Up until now I've had doubts about light shows at a concert. I have always thought that it detracts from the music and serves simply as a glitzy gimmick. Even when Rush came here with the Roll the Bones tour, I thought its light show - which included lasers - detracted greatly from the concert itself.
However, I've never seen a light show as tastefully spectacular as that which complimented the recent Rush performance. Shedding the dark, mysterious magentas and purples conventionally used by most rock shows, the lights were perfectly choreographed with the music to create an overall effect that can only be described as "art." And the lights were only a tiny aspect of the concert.
Probably the most important difference between this concert and the Roll the Bones tour was the presence of amps on guitarist Alex Lifeson's side of the stage. In keeping with the organic production of Rush's latest CD, Counterparts, Lifeson actually used real amps instead of going directly into the sound board. The first couple songs - especially "Spirit of the Radio" [sic] -provided mostly fuzz, due to his high-end being turned up too high, but the problem was corrected quickly, yielding a thick, throaty sound. This major improvement in guitar tone was enhanced by the use of a twelve-string acoustic on parts of "Closer to the Heart" and "Nobody's Hero."
Lifeson and Geddy Lee (bass, vocals, keyboards) were in playful spirits throughout the concert, allowing their fun to ripple down into the crowd. This was especially evident when Lifeson stole Geddy's microphone to introduce a song and proceeded to tell a few jokes, refusing to cede back the mic. The frivolity soon subsided and evolved into a medley featuring "The Trees," "Xanadu," "Cygnus X-1:Book II" and "Tom Sawyer."
Rush is definitely a band on the upsweep, as can be testified to by Counterparts and this tour. Getting back to their roots by simply dropping most of their electronic equipment and using amps could be the best thing they've done in the last five years.