Rush Gives Fans The Works At Molson Amphitheatre

By John Powell, Jam!Showbiz, July 1, 1997

Sometimes the cards need to be laid out on the table. The mirror held up to our faces so there is no possibility of us looking off and avoiding the inevitable truth.

Canada has the world-wide reputation of being a hard country/venue to play. We contain our energy. We restrain our excitement until everyone joins in en masse. Is it that British conservative influence? Aye, Governor.

Case in point. There was a gathering at the Molson Amphitheatre in downtown Toronto tonight and would you believe it...a concert broke out. A passerby wouldn't have known it judging by the complacent but appreciative fans seemingly staple-gunned to their seats.

What does it take to get us, the Rush fans, off our fannies? Alex Lifeson's amp spontaneously combusting? A freak Lake Ontario tidal wave submerging Ontario Place? An out of control airplane from the Island Airport crash-landing right on top of us?

An Order Of Canada winning rock band (As unusual a sight as a purple-feathered Canada Goose), a variable Canadian institution, playing their guts out for their hometown crowd and except for momentary lapses of reason and seemingly reckless abandon, we sit stock still bobbing our heads like we're starring in some retarded Wayne's World parody.

Stand up, I say. Cast aside the polite-as-can-be Canuck stereotype and be boisterously proud of your local boys made good.

"It's always a great pleasure to play in our hometown," said bassist and lead vocalist Geddy Lee, "We've got about 6 million songs to play". No word of a lie, folks.

Rifling through their distinguished album collection, Lee, lead guitarist Alex Lifeson and undisputed professor of the skins, Neil Peart, cranked out past hits and selections from their new disc Test For Echo, for ninety minutes before The Trees had the crowd on their feet. Peart's sly critique of the Internet--Virtuality--and the soul-stirring Nobody's Hero had butts a resting.

Showing no signs of slowing down, the trio fulfilled many a fan's dream by playing the full version of the classic 2112 complete with video accompaniment. A shimmering red pentagram reflected in a pool of water on the screen, and the familiar disembodied, emotionless voice intoning "We Have Assumed Control" through the speakers left a haunting impression.

Hitting the stage following a short break (Neil Peart undoubtedly resting his bandaged right elbow) satellite dishes beaming green laser beams over the heads of the audience preceded Test For Echo. Split-screen images of the O.J. Simpson trial, Jean Chretien and Bill Clinton spouting hot air, intermingled with the Easter Island monuments, pyramids and Buddha statues visually supported the title track's meaning. A white refrigerator littered with magnets, two large disco balls (Stolen off the back of a U2's equipment truck?) and two signs straight out of the Half The World video also competed for space with the hard-driving band.

Lifeson's quirky mannerisms and the inclusion of dinosaur puppets (a bit of self-deprecating humor, surely) sporting Blue Jays uniforms, rocking along with the beat of Tom Sawyer atop the amps generated much laughter. They were here to play and having a helluva lot of fun doing it. Not too shabby at all for a trio of supposed dinosaurs.

The Set

1. Dreamline. 2. Limelight. 3. Stick It Out. 4. Driven. 5. Half The World. 6. Red barchetta. 7. Animate. 8. Limbo. 9. The Trees. 10. Virtuality. 11. Nobody's Hero. 12. Closer To The Heart. 13. 2112 (The whole thang!!)


14. Test For Echo. 15. Freewill. 16. Red Sector A. 17. Roll The Bones. 18. Resist. 19. Where's My Thing? 20. A revised Rhythm Method (Neil Peart drum solo). 21. Natural Science. 22. Force Ten. 23. Spirit Of Radio. 24. Tom Sawyer.