The Sound of Salesmen: Rush at Cricket Pavilion July 27
Better Than: A Rush of Blood to the Head, without a doubt.
WOW! RUSH WAS, LIKE, SO AWESOME! GEDDY LEE WAS PROBABLY THE BEST BASS PLAYER EVER! AND NEIL PEART WAS AMAZING! IT WAS SO COOL! AND THEN THEY PLAYED ‘TOM SAWYER’ AND IT WAS AWESOME! BEST SHOW EVER! THEY HAD PYROTECHNICS AND LASERS AND EVEN A REALLY HOT GIRL WHO CAME OUT AND BASTED THEIR CHICKENS AND…
Oof, sorry about that. Sometimes my little brother gets a hold of my computer thinking it’s one of them super-fun Speak ’n’ Spells and he just makes such a mess. G’wan, git! Ye rascally scamp.
Anywho. As someone who generally thinks still-existing classic rock bands are by and large old, fat, greedy, boring corporate thunder lizards who deserve to be swept off the face of the planet to make room for fresher bands, I’m basically required to hate Rush. But then again I know the best way to destroy any pretenses of trying to be hip is to say they were great. And that’s the flat truth that I’m dealing with on this grey morn: I basically liked ‘em. In spite of the corporate rock trappings, in spite of the hype around their musicianship, in spite of the cheese…they rocked hard ‘n’ heavy.
I had a teacher in high school who found out that I was into classic rock and who henceforth stiffened up whenever he saw me and shouted, “Rush! Geddy Lee! Rush! YEAY-UH!” Coward that I was, I never had the heart to tell him I thought that Rush, with the exception of 2112 and a few other cuts, was the biggest pile of lame I ever laid ears on. Operatic concept album virtuoso prog hell. Well, fuck all that. They’re playing way better than a bunch of Canadian geezers persevering this long should be, and they’re wisely mining the hard rock vein that served them so well in their early years. For the most part, their new stuff kicks the heads off squirrels with loose and muscular ease.
Geddy Lee’s vocals, still the worst thing about Rush in my humble opinion, haven’t deteriorated a whit, and he’s still able to yelp like an operatic gopher with the best of ’em. (“Of SAYUHLS-MEN!”….Jesus Christ.) He bopped around the lower registers quite nimbly as his main man Alex Lifeson gave up the riffs and took vaguely psychedelic excursions into reverb-filled astral planes. Neil Peart Greatest Drummer Alive looked bored as a department store dummy, if not just fundamentally pained to be in the heat. Most of the aging classic rock fans and starstruck stoners goggled and swooned just to be in his holy presence, but he didn’t play any more creatively than you’d expect someone encased in a thick bubble of snares, toms, hi-hats, cymbals, and electronic beat-pads would. Functional and more virtuosic than 9/10ths of the drummers you see, yeah maybe, but mechanically so. Not one smile.
Their new album is called Snakes and Arrows and they used this as a kind of weird brand-name theme in their stage show (Neil Peart Greatest Drummer Alive was decked out in S&A swag, but no one else) in conjunction with some dragons-and-swordplay visuals that really got on my nerves, but many of the new songs were fairly solid. Theirs is the tight interplay that you can only get from a trio, and it particularly grabbed me by the face when they clicked into a pummeling lockstep near the end of The Main Monkey Business. Malignant Narcissism was nice feedback-laden instrumental roughhousing, and The Spirit of Radio, Passage to Bangkok, and the other usual suspects also made effective appearances. My main complaint: the bastards left out the 2112 Overture. …whuh, listen to me, I almost sound like a Rush fan.
Personal Bias: Are you kidding? It’s fuggin Rush on a fuggin LiveNation corporate rock tour.
Random Detail: At one point that sneak Geddy Lee tiptoed up behind his buddy Lifeson, who was so engrossed in his axesmanship that he failed to notice ol Geddy lurking three inches behind and staring intently at his face like it was a particularly tasty piece of cheese. No gnawing ensued, but my stomach did flip-flops.