Rush opened their first tour in five years at Hartford's CTNOW.COM Meadow Music Center Friday night June 28th. And what a show it was. With no need for an opening act, the band took the stage promptly at 8pm.
Leading off the first set oddly enough with "Tom Sawyer," they danced along the years playing songs like "New World Man," "YYZ," "Roll The Bones," "Distant Early Warning," "Big Money," and one song "Earthshine," from their latest record Vapor Trails, released this May. They even pulled a few rabbits out of the hat with some songs not heard live in a few tours, such as "The Pass," "Vital Signs," and "Between Sun and Moon" off 1994's Counter Parts. That last one has never been played live before this tour and was dedicated to "a fallen comrade," The Who's John Entwistle, who passed away just days before the show. "Natural Science" from the record Permanent Waves brought the first half of the show to close in a stunning performance. During that song, I saw Alex Lifeson do something I've never seen him do before --Not only did he walk off the stage in front of the barrier from the crowd, but he kicked a security guard in the back to get his attention. He handed the pick he was using to him and pointed to a girl in a wheel chair by the front of the stage, but the dope he handed it to tried to just hand it off to the first kid in front of him, which got him another kick in the back and a stern look as he pointed repeatedly to the girl in the chair. Nice touch Lerxst, very cool...
The second set had more surprises than Christmas morning. Their latest single, "One Little Victory," punched opened the second set with a flurry of pyrotechnics (musically and visually for that matter), and was followed by 1996's Test For Echo>'s "Driven." Then on to two more from the new record, "Ceiling Unlimited" and "Secret Touch" (my personal favorite). But now things got interesting. It's been at least 10 years or more since they've played Grace Under Pressure's "Red Sector." Complete with the revolving drum riser switching to Neil Peart's Electronic kit that sits two-faced to his standard DW's as Geddy dropped his bass for ye old keyboard rig. Next up was the instrumental "Leave That Thing Alone," which of course always leads to the other main attraction of Rush shows, The Drum Solo, or to those of us in the know, the Rhythm Method. Nobody should do drum solos but Neil. If you don't believe me, pick up any of their live records and see for yourself. He even out did himself this time, playing a complete jazz style musical piece, from programmed samples of horns and the likes triggered from his drum kit. That man is not just a drummer, he's a whole friggin' band for Christ Sakes...Yet the best was still yet to come.
Giving "The Professor" a break after his awesome display, Alex and Geddy came out for an acoustic version of "Resist" before rolling the sleeves up and getting back to work blowing minds. It was now that the classics started to rain from the stage. 2112's "Overture into Temples Of Syrinx" led into "Limelight," and what I believe to be one of the finest instrumental rock songs ever written, "La Villa Strangiato" off 1978's Hemispheres (My favorite album on the PLANET!), and of course, "Spirit Of Radio." I was speechless and goosebumped at this point.
But they still weren't done. They came out for their encore call and ripped right into Fly By Night's "Bytor and the Snowdog." This song is almost 30 years old!!! But the thing about Rush that separates them from 98% of the recording industry, is the fact that if you closed your eyes in this or any song in the set for that matter, you'd hardly know the difference between now and back then. Not many bands can say that. Next was "Cygnus X-1" from A Farewell To Kings, and after that they closed the show with their first album jam, "Working Man." Just simply amazing. As always, virtually flawless, and all the while making it look so easy. It was a pleasure to watch every one of the 27 songs they played that night, and I look forward to at least 2 more shows on this tour.
Brought to you by the letter "3."
Distant Early Warning
New World Man
Roll The Bones
Between Sun and Moon
One Little Victory
Leave That Thing Alone
The Rhythm Method
Overture 2112-Temples of Syrinx
La Villa Strangiato
Spirit Of Radio
Bytor and The Snowdog