Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rush - Philadelphia - 10/12/12

Rush is one of my favorite bands, and I have been fortunate enough to see them twice before, both at various times on the Snakes and Arrows tour for their last album. They are touring this fall in support of their newest album, Clockwork Angels. The new album is somewhat of a concept album, and going into the show last night I liked it, but didn't love it the same way that I have the previous album. It is musically complex and interesting to listen to, but it is far from a "catchy tune singalong album". When this tour was first announced, Dave and I discussed going, as did my neighbor Anthony, but I was already lined up to see Asia next weekend at the Keswick, so concerts on back to back weekends seemed perhaps too much of an indulgence.

Fast forward to last week, when Anthony raised the idea again, to a somewhat lukewarm reception on my part. I wanted to go but still didn't know if I wanted to do another concert. Then we all went to the Bull Riding event at the Wells Fargo center last Friday, and they were advertising upcoming events heavily, such as Rush... We talked. I caved. We bought tickets on StubHub. And last night, off we went...

Show time was 7:30pm, which we both found unusual, so we left home a little after 5:30, and headed down to the arena. We got there before 6:30, and had time to listen to some Rush on the car stereo and have a beer or two before heading in. We grabbed a quick meal of stadium food (decent but ridiculously over priced, of course), and got to our seats promptly at 7:30, just in case they started on time. We were on the short end of the arena, second level; pretty far away but facing the stage head-on, which for a Rush show is perfect given the amount of video that they show on the huge screens behind the stage. Section 207, row 10, seats 8 and 9 to be specific.

The band took the stage after their usual pre-show video, and launched into Subdivisons, followed by Roll the Bones. Neither of these are favorites of mine on the studio versions, but both are very good live, especially Subdivisions, with Geddy Lee rolling through a nice fluid base line while playing keyboards and singing. I'm not sure how he does it. My jealousy knows no bounds... The rest of the ten-song (65 minute) first set was a mix of older stuff, such as Grand Designs, The Pass, Force Ten and The Analog Kid. One of the highlights for me was the last song, Far Cry, off of Snakes and Arrows.

One bit of between song banter from Geddy had the band promising a long night, and after a 15 minute intermission, they returned to the stage for the second half of the show. We had looked up a set list from a recent show to get an idea of what else the band had in store for us, and there were another 12 or 13 songs in store before an encore. The whole first part was basically the vast majority of the new album (nine songs by my count), backed by an eight piece head banger string section. It was a cool sound, and funny to see violins, violas and cellos rocking out behind the drum kit. As I said, I wasn't totally in love with the new album before the show, but I am after. It was amazing to see practically the entire album done live. The remainder of the second set was Dreamline, Red Sector A, a drum solo, and then two highlights of any Rush show, YYZ (their best live song for my money), and Spirit of the Radio.

After Spirit of the Radio, they left the stage for less than a minute, and came back to do a 12 minute encore of Tom Sawyer, followed by three parts of the 2112 Overture; Overture, Temples of Syrinx, and the Grand Finale.

As always, I left the show in absolute awe of the talent of these three guys, and the amount of sounds they can put out. It was well worth paying more than face value for the tickets, and I am very glad we made the decision to go at the last minute. My only complaint, if there is such a thing, is that they didn't do two of my old favorites, Limelight or Freewill. Or Closer to the Heart for that matter. Or The Trees. Or Red Barchetta. I'll stop there. The first two I saw on the last tour... The other three I have not yet seen live. Maybe someday.

Now that I am playing more guitar, and own too many of them, I watched what Alex Lifeson was playing with a lot of interest. He is a 100% Gibson guy. The majority of songs were played on a black Les Paul, sometimes with a whammy bar. A number of other Les Pauls were trotted out, including natural finish and a dark cherry red. For Far Cry at the end of the first set, he used a bright white hollow body, that judging from the picture here (under "Variations"), may have been an AL-355, or something similar. From what I remember noticing, Geddy use two different Fender Jazz basses, a black one most of the time, sometimes switching to a dark turqouisey blue one. I seem to remember way back in the day that Geddy used Rickenbacker basses, but not any more.

My sister in law posted a link to something on Facebook the other day that could never be more true than right now: nobody ever spoke their last deathbed words as "I went to too many concerts..."

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