Monday, July 05, 2010

Rush Still Giddily (Geddily?) Rocking to the Power of 3

Concert Review

July 3, 2010
Marcus Amphitheatre, Summerfest
Milwaukee, WI

I love Rush. If that makes me uncool, not hip, musically deficient, nerdy or anything else, so be it. Nothing I haven't heard before.

Mind you, I am not nearly as hardcore as many of the Canadian power trio's famously rabid fans. There are a number of Rush songs, both old and new, that I don't particularly enjoy and while I respect the band's right to indulge their own tastes by playing a healthy dose of obscure tunes in their concerts, this tendency has made their shows of late rather hit-or-miss affairs.

But given how much I like their 1981 album, Moving Pictures, as well as 1980's Permanent Waves--I still recall getting both on vinyl upon release--and other concert staples like 2112, when it was announced that Rush would be playing Moving Pictures in its entirety on their current Time Machine tour, I jumped at the chance to see them at Milwaukee's Summerfest (for a good bit less than tickets and parking cost for their shows tonight & Wednesday at Chicago's Northerly Island).

While there were a good deal more women at the show than might be expected--even Rush joked in a post-show video that seven is a record--and a good smattering of people under 25 or so, most of the audience were presumably longtime devotees, as indicated from the vast assortment of old concert tees on display. And from the response of the crowd (not quite packed, but well-sold), it would appear that most in attendance enjoyed Rush's performance as much as I did, if not more.

The first set of two was a bit heavy on lesser-known songs (see the setlist here), but once notoriously high-voiced lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee got past a bit of screechiness that opened The Spirit of Radio--the first song of the show, which followed a cheeky video showing that the band really does have a strong sense of self-deprecating humor--he settled in nicely to his now a-bit-lower register and everything sounded good.

As Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart are all fantastic musicians, the music itself was note perfect and when the Moving Pictures play-through kicked off the second set, the show really kicked into high gear.

Perhaps not for everyone's taste, but I loved it. Unapologetically.

Here's a bit of video I shot of Free Will, followed by a video on YouTube of Camera Eye, which I found to be a surprise standout (the video is actually from their Albuquerque show a few days ago).


In conjunction with going to see Rush, I also made a point of watching their just released documentary DVD (it also has been playing on VH1 and Palladia), Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage.

Featuring plenty of music and interviews with the three band members, their associates and famous fans like Trent Reznor, Billy Corgan, Les Claypool, Gene Simmons and others, it really was a fascinating look at the band's career. While seemingly devoid of the drug-infused drama that made for the best Behind The Music episodes, the band's beginnings and long run offers more than enough of interest, including how they dealt with the death of Peart's daughter and wife.

If you are a Rush fan like me, this is certainly worth your time. And if not, perhaps even more so. Available on Amazon and elsewhere, I heartily give it @@@@@.

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