Rush's second New Bingley Hall gig is launched at 5.30 on a dismal Saturday afternnon. Geddy Lee (Neil and Alex are still at the hotel) is ushered unsuspectingly to a window and sees a hot air balloon hovering low over the hall. It's appearance coincides with an eruption of noisy cheering from the fans milling around the hall. Writ large across the balloon is the word 'Rush'...
Freezing darkness falls and the kids are eventually allowed to pour into the cavernous hall, being groped and searched for booze and tape recorders at the door. By nine o'clock, some substance or other has made a young guy slump unconscious by the wall. He doesn't flinch as 20,000 arms flail into the air and Rush are on the stage.
It's '2112' (natch) and a blinding yellow light is pouring from behind the band, filling half the hall. The stuttering opener slams against the back wall and the crowd is clapping along. The acoustics of this titan's garden shed muffle the edges of the sound and obscure Geddy's vocals, but that's no deterrent to this word - and note - perfect crowd. The poster 'guitars' are out and they profer their obeisance as Rush stride dynamic and stylish through the piece. Even I get a weird erotic tingle at the searing climax, when Neil's voice booms out that apocalyptic announcement.
'Bangkok' and it's dope litany draws the usual knowing applause. Apart from those classic gattling-gun drumrolls, Neils drumming seems sparer (hint, hint) behind Geddy and Alexs' fiery embellishments, and they even include a spasm of reggae (hint, hint) in the middle of the song.
After Beefcake Barton's onomatapoeic celebrations, what more can be said of 'By-Tor And The Snow Dog'? They charge it with the relentless motion of a machine and the wild energy of a storm. The complex range and diversity they imbue it with here is, however, a good signpost of the direction Rushmusic is taking.
A starfield is expanding on the back-projection screen behind the band and the crowd is going apeshit. Gothic sci-fi atmo electronics introduce 'Cygnus' as a star nova's onscreen. A rocket swims out through the cluster of planets and Geddy is spotlit, stage-centre, powering out a stormy riff and pushing the trio into maximum thrust. You wouldn't believe the hysteria going on down in that throng as a collapsar seethes on screen and the band goes thundering into it.
Clouds of mist part to reveal two cerebral hemispheres (no, you don't get a record token). 'Hemispheres' has followed the abovementioned signpost, and they bowl through the epic aflourish with energy, drama and contrast.
A raunchy 'Working Man' encasing Neil's stunning drum solo, concludes the set. Blinding white floodlights are turned on the crowd, revealing a frightening surreal mass of arms, like animated meat, waving in the nightmarish glare.
The din brings Geddy back to the stage. Somehow, the band have found out that a young guy died in a car crash en route to the gig. They decide to dedicate their encore, 'La Villa Strangiato', to him and proceed to turn in the finest performance of the song I've yet to hear. The crowd roars in applause and, perhaps, homage.
The concert ends with a weird sort of crowd elation. Bakstage the band are pleased but subdued. The crowd swarms out into the darkness quietly. The only testimony to night's events is a few fires and tents spotted about nearby fields at one in the morning.