Live In Concert: Rush, Reign

The Agora, August 26

By Mark Kmetzko, Northeast Ohio Scene, August 29-September 4, 1974, transcribed by pwrwindows

I really don't see what all the excitement over Rush is about. They're just another "high energy" rock band who prides itself on its ability to "boogie." Big deal. I can stay home an listen to Foghat if I want that.

From what I observed Monday night, Rush's Forte is supposed to be the vocals of bass player Geddy Lee. He doesn't have a good voice" but it's one that's hard to forget. Shades of Steve Marriott, Dennis T. Menass and even, at times, Robert Plant can be heard in Lee's screeches. The latter unfortunately has led to comparisons between Rush and early Led Zeppelin. How ludicrous. Rush's too simple compositions and lack of dynamics killed any possible comparison early in the show.

As for the rest of the Canadian trio, I was most impressed with drummer John Rutsey [sic - Neil Peart!]. Though not an especially inventive drummer (they never are in this type of band), he did keep a strong undercurrent going, and was able to insert a few nice fills here at there.

Alex Lifeson's guitar playing might have been okay, but I couldn't hear him through most of the set. He was constantly buried under Lee's screams of "Oooooo-yeaah."

My comments aside, the crowd ate it up. They loved hearing Lee soar into his soprano register and make neat contorted faces. If that's what it's about, then I guess they succeeded.

Opening up for them was the Cleveland-based Reign. I was pleasantly surprised to see they weren't doing the same half-assed copies of other groups material they were doing when I saw them a couple years back.

Reign have their own tunes now, and most of their Agora set was devoted to them. The songs were in many cases better than the performances. Bits of a Todd Rundgren influence can be heard in Reign's material, but unfortunately they don't have a Todd to sing it. In fact, the singing often ruined what could have been a fine song. But with a little polish, Reign could probably get somewhere. They're a damn sight more original than the band they opened up for.