Trial Will Just Have To Wait

By Andy Coleman, Birmingham Evening Mail, August 11, 2004


Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson today promised Birmingham fans the band's forthcoming NEC shows will definitely go ahead - despite a court case hanging over his head.

The 50-year-old musician says he was due to appear in a Florida court in September but a deal has been done to postpone the hearing until October, after Rush's UK tour which plays the NEC on September 9 and 14.

The battery charges he faces stem from an incident on New Year's Eve at a Florida hotel in which a police officer was injured.

"The trial was actually set for mid September but everyone has agreed to move it to October," he says. "However, I'm still hoping it won't go to court. It is not going to be pleasant for anyone if it does."

Police claim an officer was pushed downstairs during the fracas while Lifeson says police were brutal, zapping him with a stun gun four times and breaking his nose during the New Year party attended by him and his family.

The news that the band are still coming to the UK will be a relief for fans who have not seen Rush in concert in Britain for 12 years. The UK even missed out on their 2002 Vapor Trails tour.

"We tried to get over to the UK on the last tour, we had every intention, but we left it too late and missed the window of opportunity. Many venues were already booked up," says Alex.

"We could have come back later but it would have been six months after the original tour had ended so it really wasn't worth it."

It was vocalist Geddy Lee who insisted that Britain was included in the schedule for the 2004 tour which celebrates Rush's 30th anniversary.

"Geddy said that unless we visited the UK and Europe he wouldn't go out on tour," claims Alex. "So we sorted those dates out first and only then began booking shows in America. The UK was given priority."

Despite Geddy's insistence on British dates the band, who's line-up is completed by drummer Neil Peart, was worried that they'd been forgotten in the UK.

"We hoped we still had some fans there but we were completely surprised and amazed when tickets sold so quickly and extra dates had to be added," says Alex.

After 30 years of Rush, Alex says the appetite and enthusiasm for the music is still as strong.

"On the last tour we played three hour shows, this time around it's three hours 20 minutes so there's no question of cutting back. There's just so much material.

"And after 30 years it's still a great deal of fun. We're also still great friends. Geddy and I live just five minutes away from each other in Toronto and on our days off we meet up for lunch or to play tennis.

"It's a pleasure to be on stage and I reckon we're now playing the best we've ever played."

* Rush bring their 30th Anniversary World Tour to Birmingham NEC on September 11 (SOLD OUT) and Wednesday September 15.

* Tickets priced 29.50 and 32.50 plus booking fee from 0870 909 4133 or www.necgroup.co.uk/boxoffice.