Rush Comes On Strong

By James McLinden, Wisconsin State Journal, January 31, 1978, transcribed by pwrwindows

England's New Wave rock 'n' roll bands may be the darling of the critics, though the heavy metal rock bands are the ones that incessantly pack the concert halls.

The freshness and vitality of the New Wave, exemplified by the Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello and Graham Parker and The Rumour, Is molding rock's future. But you'd have trouble selling that Idea to most of the 8,000 persons who caught the Canadian trio Rush at the Dane County Coliseum Sunday night.

This Toronto based group derives its power from an array of sophisticated gadgetry - double-necked bass and eleclric guitars, mini-moogs, chimes, bells, cymbals and bass-pedal synthesizers - all amplified to ear piercing volumes.

Three persons can produce a lof of noise if they put their minds to it. And Rush certainly has used noise to concoct a highly successful formula, pulling itself with the best of the heavy metal rock bands and forcing Its detractors to envy at least the band's prosperity.

Rush plays a heady dose of thunderclap rock which it complement with a fog-enshrouded stage, explosions of blinding white light and smoke bombs, and a rainbow of light beams. The boys use these effects well, following the visual explosions with aural ones of deafening dimensions. The mainly teenage audience responded equally to each kind.

One element setting Rush apart from others in its genre is its lyrics. Much of the group's songs are mini-science fiction tales, complete with characters named By·Tor and Kublai Khan, and places named Xanadu and the Black Hole of Cygnus X·I. But the lyrical concepts lake a back seat to the dynamism of the musicians and their music.

The guitarist is blond-haired Alex Lifeson. His guitar solos are a bit muddied and elementary, tending to cheapen his obvious electronic wizardry. His prancing partner Is Geddy Lee, the bassist and sole vocalist, who also plays a synthesizer with his feet. His vocal style is a nightmarish falsetto shriek, which makes understanding the words a trifle difficult. Best to learn the lyrics before the concert. Lee's thumping bass line, an integral component of Rush's sound, are felt in the pit of the stomach; it feels like you're standing on the rim of a simmering volcano.

Neil Peart, the drummer who writes most of the group's lyrics, marshalls a small army of percussion instruments. Unfortunately, his delicate touch with the bells, triangle and temple blocks is often lost In the flood of volume from the guitars. This was the case with "Xanadu," a song from Rush's latest album, "A Farewell to Kings."

The group played numerous crowd pleasers, from the concert opener "Bastille Day" through "Lakeside Park," "A Farewell to Kings," and the four-part "By-Tor and the Snow Dog."

Rush comes from the gimmick and mimic school of rock music, and how· ever unimaginative its music may be, it's clear that the band has a very good grasp of what heavy metal enthusiasts like. Fans come to a Rush concert knowing what to expect.