In The Coke Snorting, Pill Popping, Dope Polluted Eighties, Rush Are As Clean And Wholesome As Mom's Apple Pie
When the Rush circus hits the roads it burns rubber for nine months or more - and the band have to build up the stamina of Olympic athletes, keeping their brains unclouded.
The strange thing is that they don't need to work that hard anymore. After a series of mega platinum albums, they could well afford to go down with a severe attack of Zeppelinitus and stay off the road for a year or more.
But Rush are fanatical workaholics and almost every year brings a lull scale British tour with absolutely no signs of wear and tear. This time they might come away with a little profit, even though they've lust forked out 20,000 dollars in air freighting charges before putting a foot on stage.
Rush are the true intellectuals of heavy metal, Yes meeting Motorhead down a dark and windy alley. Lots of crash, bang and dry ice to be sure, but just listen to those themes and lyrics.
If God had wanted a soundtrack when he gave Moses the Ten Commandments then he would have commissioned Rush to do it. Heroic themes stoked and fried by the constant pulse of life and the forces of nature.
Your average Rush fan turns up in a slightly less faded brand of denim than his mates - and although he may bang his head with the best of 'em his ears are alert to the words and he'll stand lovingly In homage to the longer songs.
Tonight the Hammersmith Odeon is transformed from four cold walls into a sauna bath with 3,000 customers.
Actually, I think it must be said that Rush do go on a bit. Sometimes labouring a point 10 times when five would do. But just when you're nodding off Geddy Lee hits all the right notes, sending tongues of fire leaping from your toes to the tops of your legs.
There are drum solos and drum solos. Neil Peart mixes his with some weird synth combination and the noise is not unlike a selection of chirpy chipmunks being wacked over the head. Not a skin is left unflayed as he twists and turns on the stool, veins bulging in his neck with the effort of it all
EVERYBODY gets to be a star in the great Rush show. Banks of white light illuminate the crowds as they play phantom guitars. Every song is a universal epic especially .2112' with its tale of high priests trying to stamp out music until one day somebody finds a guitar. What a film idea, sell it to somebody quick.
Naturally Rush play 'The Spirit Of Radio', pure cosmic surf music. An open road of sun and fresh air that latches quickly into your consciousness.
There isn't a laser in sight In the Rush lighting arsenal, but who really cares" The lighting guy has lightning fingers flicking on spots with every changing note. For me, the best moment is 'La Villa Strangiato' where Alex Lifeson gets down to some serious melody in a criss cross purple haze.
The show ends with a nuclear explosion of white light down front, before our heroes depart with a wave and a smile.
Backstage the visitors include the Batman and Robin of heavy metal Brian Robertson and Jimmy Bain, Brian's wife Dee Harrington in hot pants, and several members of Motorhead not in hot pants.
A rather bizarre mixture of friends for Rush to have surely There's Jimmy drunkenly telling everyone how he's been gardening all day and Brian locking himself in the toilet and coming out 20 minutes later sweating profusely with a happy dazed look in his eyes.
"Oh I don't know," says Alex ' We stay up pretty late have a few drinks and enjoy ourselves We're private people but with close friends we do let ourselves go Brian's an old friend from Lizzy days The two bands almost grew up together it started happening for us at the same time.
"Rush work all the time because that's our tradition Maybe we could afford to take things easy, but we lust enjoy the power that an audience gives off For us, it's always gratifying playing Britain, because we've always been influenced by British bands."
What about the Yes and Motorhead analogy?
"Yeah I suppose we're something of a crossover band It's music people can dance to but we've never written songs that just go 'C'mon baby rock me all night long.' We tend to go for more cultural phrases.
THESE days though we're getting a little more direct 'Hemispheres' was period. It's gratifying to loosen up as did on 'Permanent Waves'."
'The Spirit Of Radio' just one step away in Britain from becoming a monster hit was inspired by a Toronto radio station. While other stations have gone into for massive programming, even playing certain songs at certain appointed times, the station remains independent and Rush decided to pay tribute to it.
SUCH stations were the life blood of Rush in their early days. Rush also owe a hell of a lot to the lowering of the drinking age in Canada.
"They lowered the age of buying a drink from 21 to 18 says Alex. This meant that lots of new bars were opened for kids and we could go and play them."
From then on it was just a matter of time before America and Europe fell.
The next step is the conquest of Japan.
"Put it down to energy," says Alex "We were always a band that had positive ideas. We have to do things to a schedule because it's the only way to get things done." Day in day out Rush follow the same routine. They get up at three in the afternoon after a late night. Then they go to the sound check to take a break and play the concert, which is always precisely the same length. The organization is as smooth running as a digital watch and they keep a permanent road crew where everyone is a specialist.
When the Rush boys decide to record an album they head for the country vibes. Not for them a sweaty studio in a grimy city. They used to use Rockford studios on the Welsh border but now they've moved back to their home territory and a little place in the Laurentian foothills.
"The studio is situated at the end of a lake and every day you can cross to it from a house at the other end," continues Alex. "Such surroundings give us peace of mind we can do an album in five weeks. 'Jacob's Ladder' on the Permanent Waves album was inspired by that time of quiet after a storm, when shafts of light start coming through the clouds.
"When I take a break from recording, I'll go out and fly my radio controlled model aircraft. I crashed it into a field of cows. They didn't seem to mind, they're such dumb beasts."
It's getting to that early morning silly time when the band begin to reveal their innermost thoughts and feelings. Geddy Lee's wearing a fascinating T-shirt emblazoned with a fat cat singing 'Love them little mouses, mousies that I love to eat, bite they little heads off, nibble on they tiny feet.'
"I'm a cat fetishist," he says. "I love the little beasts. I've got a Himalayan cat, it's a very rare breed. All the cats come round to my place saying, 'Hey guys, this is a cool place, let's hang out here.' Where I live we have quite a problem with catknappers. They kidnap your cat and hold It to ransom. People who do that must be failed bank robbers or something.
"I thought one of ours had been kidnapped once, but it turned out it got locked in one of our neighbor's houses. I was walking down the road one day and I saw it up in the window going 'weoooo, wow."
"I really miss them when I'm do the road. Every time I come back and they're waiting at the door for me, saying 'Welcome back. Hey dad - what have you got us for dinner'."
Damn, I forgot to ask what the significance of Rush's music was.