The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.
Tickets: $16.50, $15
Rush is an anomaly in arena rock. The band draws basically the same crowd as, say, Van Halen or Motley Crue, and yet it puts on a jazz-based, laid-back, sophisticated show. Aside from a few lasers and videos - little more than you'd see at on upscale disco on Friday nights - the Mercury act offers neither sturm nor drang, yet excites the fans every bit as much as all David Lee Roth's acrobatics.
Rush's Feb. 5 show at the Forum was the first of two soId-out nights for the Canadian trio. The group started right off giving a note of humor to its often pompous, political image: they came onstage to the strains of "Three Blind Mice." Then they went right into "Spirit Of Radio" and continued to sing of self-determination, nuclear war and capitalism.
The enduring mystery of Rush is why the band has succeeded with such an unlikely vocalist as bass player Geddy Lee; the man is forever reaching after a note that doesn't exist. But as for why Lee was chosen as the bands vocalist in the first place, that was answered when guitarist Alex Lifeson made a brief stab at harmony. Alleycats sing better. Drummer Neil Pearl, mercifully, kept his mouth shut.
Vocal weakness hardly kept the audience from responding to the band. They responded, mainly, to strong individual musicianship and the complexity of the songs themselves. When Rush ended the show with a rocker in 4/4 time, it was a shock to the ear. The rest of the material is all in off-the-wall time signatures-although the material often manages to sound alike despite that.
Rush's worst vice is that the band can be, well, just plain boring. But it's also refreshing to see an act in the heavy rock genre that can satisfy its fans without pondering to them. And if Geddy Lee's voice can be considered cruel and unusual punishment to some, there were also more than 30,000 people who considered that they were given their money's worth and then some. Which, at today's ticket prices, is a feat.