The members of Rush have never been ones to revel in past glories, but this year, they're making a tentative exception.
For starters, they recently remastered their entire early catalogue of studio albums - from the 1974 self-titled debut through 1987's Hold Your Fire - and prepared a pair of best-of anthologies. And for their current tour, which arrives at the Corel Centre on Friday, they've decided to take advantage of the three-hour "An Evening With Rush" format to revisit some of the band's neglected past.
That means alongside material from their latest album, Test For Echo, they'll play the entire 1976 conceptual epic, 2112, drummer Neil Peart says.
"It's the first time ever in history. When it came out in 1976, we were still an opening act with a 25 minute set, so giving 20 minutes of that 25 minute set (to 2112) wouldn't work, so we had an abridged version. Then other albums came along and (2112) got shorter and shorter," Peart says backstage prior to a New Jersey concert.
Before a question has scarcely been posed, Peart darts off with an articulate, well-reasoned response - not because he's on interview autopilot, but because his mind is as quick and finely tuned as his drum-work.
"There's interesting things when you go back," he says of reconsidering the trio's track record for the current tour. "Some things don't sound the way they are catalogued in my mind."
It's a point best illustrated by a trawl through the Rush catalogue, too. Taken as a body of work, the remastered CDs chart the trio's fascinating evolution. They started life as a not-very-inventive boogie band on 1974's Rush. By the time they recorded 1975's Fly By Night, Peart had replaced original drummer John Rutsey and was edging the band into a more cerebral direction. By 2112 and 1977's A Farewell To Kings, the music became more complex and the lyrics began to draw on influences as diverse as philosopher/novelist Ayn Rand and fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien, before finally arriving at the less didactic, thoughtful songs of recent records like the latest, Test For Echo.
"The nicest thing anyone has ever said is that the band has been a soundtrack to people's lives. Because it is such a direct reflection of how we really are," says Peart.
"A lot of bands are making up a mythology and writing songs to suit it, being 'the rock guys.' Or writing to a formula for the radio or whatever popular taste happens to be. For us, it has been like a diary.
"As our tastes have changed musically - and certainly for me lyrically - that has always been reflected for me. As I have questioned different values and the passing of time and what that is all worth, all that has been reflected in the music in a very direct sense. It has sort of been like the diary of growing up, like Adrian Mole."
Rand's me-first philosophy colored early Rush work like Anthem and 2112, but the rhetoric has softened into a more humanistic approach on recent Rush albums. But when music represents such a direct reflection of Peart's own state-of-mind at any given time, doesn't he run the risk of performing songs with ideas he no longer holds?
"Those would be ones that we would disavow. There were songs suggested we play, but we said we wouldn't be able to relate to that, more musically than lyrically," he says.
"The lyrical growth has been a process of expansion. There's nothing I would recant. But musically there are things that make me cringe. Those were ones that, when they were brought up, we would say, no, no. Not that."
So what songs can Peart, Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson not bring themselves to perform now?
"That's nobody's business, really," he says.
"Every song we do play is one we want to play. Even one as popular as The Spirit Of Radio, we felt stale on it and we put it out of the set. We retired it for awhile."
Over the course of 23 years, Rush has toured and recorded relentlessly, and always managed to attract a new, young audience while maintaining a core following. Despite those years in the public, they have jealously guarded their privacy. Peart still sounds angered by rampant, false Internet rumors last year that claimed he was dying of brain cancer. Even after all this time, Peart says he is still mystified by celebrity - a topic he tackled in the 1981 song Limelight.
"And how poignant it becomes onstage every night! I look out at people singing that song and I wonder how deeply it resonates. How much do they understand?
"It was an effort to try to explain something that seems to be unexplainable. No matter how many times I go over it, it leaves bad feelings or leaves them mystified. Since that song, I have left the subject alone," he says.
"Doesn't anyone else think this is weird, to be treated like that? Set apart like that and treated in such an inhuman way? Little kids can see it. When my daughter was small and would see people treating me weird, some stranger coming up to me on the street, she would think that was so weird.
"It is weird. It is unnatural for a stranger to come up to you that way. It remains a strange feeling unless you numb yourself to it or play along with it, as I see a lot of people do. 'You love me? I love me too!' You have a choice of responses, and I always get embarrassed, because it is a very unnatural position to be in. It could never be otherwise."
After this tour, the drummer expects another studio album, followed by a live album drawing from the current and previous tour, as well as a 1979 BBC recording that never made it to broadcast. And then, most likely, more touring. Surprisingly, Peart says it was the thought of playing the same songs night after night that originally pushed the group to explore arcane, challenging song structures. That challenge drives the group to this day.
"The good thing is, a song like Tom Sawyer (from 1981's Moving Pictures) is challenging enough and remains challenging enough, that it is never going to be easy to play and it is never going to be boring.
"We never have that albatross some bands have of being tired of their songs and endlessly having to rearrange them in some weird way, just to keep your own interest alive.
"We were writing songs to play them live night after night, so we were aware of making them challenging and exciting in personal terms. Over 20 years, that stands us in good stead."