Integrity Of Music Remains Intact Tuesday

By Chris Payne, University of Houston's Daily Cougar, February 21, 1992

"One likes to believe in the freedom of music, but glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity." -Neil Peart

Nearly 20 years old, and forty- something, the indomitable rock dinosaur, Rush, crafted a dazzling concert experience of sound and sight before a sold-out crowd Tuesday in the Summit.

Say what you will about Rush, but the Canadian trio has outlasted its many critics and, admirably, has avoided what few big act bands manage to avoid - compromising its integrity. No small achievement in today's vapid market of top-40 fodder and pandering, style-over-substance commercialism.

A music industry anomaly, Rush has remained steadfast and faithful to drummer/ lyricist Neil Peart's sweeping philosophical insights and bassist/ keyboardist/ vocalist Geddy Lee's and guitarist Alex Lifeson's unique musical arrangements.

At the same time, the band has evolved and innovated with he stylistic trends punctuating modern music since the early '70s, but always retaining the trademark Rush sound, the mechanical fluidity, dramatic time-stop arrangements, Peart's awe inspiring percussion mastery, Lifeson's signet chord virtuosity and Lee's amazing fusion bass-and, of course, his oft-criticized, keening, nasal falsetto.

But Rush still sells a few tickets, as evidenced by the loyal, mostly twenty-something, hoards of hooting fans present Tuesday night.

Once past the opening act, Primus, which was interesting at best, proving, in nothing else, they are quirky and adept musicians, Rush's understated, yet technically-elaborate stage show opened before ecstatic, eager spectators with "Force Ten," form the '87 Hold Your Fire release.

And from the onset, it was apparent the band was honed, loose and in fine form. Every dead spot in the Summit seemed enveloped with suprising clarity of bombast, and even Lee's voice, which doesn't hit the high notes as it once did, was bold and piercing, sounding better than ever.

It was apparent, as the band broke into such crow favorites as "Limelight" and "Freewill," that technology would not serve as a barrier. The performance at once took on a footloose, intimate quality, as if the band, aware of its fond cult following, played right into the amorphous bond between artist and fans with heartfelt, rambunctious sincerity.

Lee frequently addressed the crowd, inciting rapt reactions with his offbeat humor.

Indeed, Rush used its expensive lasers, sound sequences and the rear projection screen, playing ingenious introductory interludes and footage above Peart's astounding percussion station, as and efficient, but not too overbearing, compliment in an altogether-brilliant sonic and visual experience.

Among the show's many highlights, some of the more notable numbers were the title track off the band's latest release, Roll the Bones, Peart's shimmering ode to the walk of life, and "The Big Money," a streamlined, masterful juxtaposition of mechanical music, which catapulted itself into the synaptic recesses of the crowd with powerful verve and ease.

Peart, quite simply, has to be one of the greatest percussionist who has ever lived. His solo was beyond description, leaving one baffled as to how one man could possibly have the power, stamina and inhuman dexterity to generate such sound from his shiny, myriad array of toys and trinkets.

Also worth mention were "Dreamline," from Bones, Peart's wistful, poetic commentary on wanderlust and the dreams of youth and "Xanadu," from A Farewell to Kings, with Lifeson's soaring guitar, wailing with perfect, striking sonority.

The only disappointments were the encore numbers, in which the band teased the audience with a jumbled medley of some of its older, classic tunes, leaving one with a feeling of dissatisfaction.

Nonetheless, for Rush fans, the show was more than worth the price of admission - and, for the truest of fans, the integrity of music still breathes.