Rush Hour

Rush Wall

[An update of the original post on “Confessions of a Reluctant Blogger“]:

Since stumbling across the “Overture” (YouTube video) to Rush’s 30th anniversary tour concert in Frankfurt on YouTube late last year I began devising subtle schemes to get my mitts on a copy of the R30 deluxe edition DVD/CD set. Thanks to Santa Claus Amazon.com, I was able to do just that, and it did not disappoint.

For 25 years I have been a fan of Rush, the Canadian progressive rock band. To me, early Rush clearly carries influences from Led Zeppelin (though, I confess, I am not a big Zeppelin fan), and were known early on for conceptual pieces based on science fiction, fantasy, and classical literature. Some of their music has been criticized as being lyrically pretentious. Returning to it with a more critical eye twenty-plus years on, I can definitely see that. I can also better appreciate how Geddy Lee’s voice is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, Rush’s use of odd time signatures, intelligent lyrics, and rich musical textures always more than made up for these “faults” in my mind.

Rush has long since moved on from their early conceptual days and has really made a career out of reinterpreting their sound without losing touch with their roots (sort of reminds me of U2 in that way, though they are completely different musically). The R30 DVD is good enough in itself and it is a lot of fun watching these guys play together. Geddy Lee’s voice has not held up especially well (the more generous among us would say his voice has “matured”) but, given all the high-pitched wailing he did during the first couple of decades, it really isn’t all that surprising. He has to transpose some of the earlier music down an octave (or six) and sometimes can’t even quite manage that. But the fun comes in watching these guys that I *sort of* grew up with, and in watching them having a good time, too.

So this has also given me an opportunity to think about rebuilding my Rush collection (most of which is still on vinyl in the attic). Most, if not all, of their earlier work has been reissued on remastered CDs, something to listen to while reading Neil Peart’s Ghost Rider, an account of the drummer’s journeys by motorcycle following the tragic deaths of his daughter and, not long after, his wife.

Yep, they’re all fifty-somethings now – both Neil and Alex look a little heavier and more middle-aged and I’ve already commented about Geddy’s voice – but we’re not getting any younger, either. But we can still enjoy some of the same things we did all those years ago, if colored by more experience, both good and bad.

Postscript:  Since writing the original post last January I have filled in the holes in my collection and have all of Rush’s studio albums on CD, including their most recent, Snakes and Arrows.  I’ll have to say that my previous appraisal of Geddy Lee’s voice was not very generous and, while he is not able to hit some of the notes he could in his twenties, he and his band-mates have acquired a more ‘experienced’ sound that resonates with those of us of a <ahem> certain age.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

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8 thoughts on “Rush Hour

  1. I had the good fortune to attend a recent RUSH concert at an outdoor venue near Washington, DC. It was an amazing show and I will say that Geddy Lee’s voice was incredible. He also thoroughly enjoyed playing his guitar for us.

    They included some great visual accents to the concert via the large screens-such as the apple tree blooming on one screen and then a computer generated tree blossoming with an apple computer on the other screen. My favorite part was when they showed a clip of RUSH appearing on South Park and they start to sing “Tom Sawyer” but he changes the lyrics to be singing about travelling down river on a raft. The “Geddy Lee” character says he’s trying to be more true to the book about a boy and an old man floating down the Mississippi-“That’s Huckleberry Fin!” they shout before RUSH actually jumps into “Tom Sawyer.”

    I haven’t been able to discover why they had a rotisserie oven with real chickens cooking on-stage. Does anyone know? (The R30 tour had an actual washer and dryer on stage.)

  2. Hey, Elizabeth! Thanks for stopping by!

    It’s great that you were able to see Rush in person. I had hopes of being able to see their show in Massachusetts, but the timing was bad for me and I missed it.

    From what I have read the washer and dryer bit is their humorous way of balancing the stage presence of Alex Lifeson’s amp and speaker stacks. Something to do with the way Geddy’s bass is amplified doesn’t require the on-stage setup. This leaves room for the washer, dryer, carousel vending machines, and chicken rotisseries as well, I guess.

    I’m hoping they put out a “Snakes and Arrows” tour DVD (pretty good bet) so I can set what the shows were like. One of the things I like most about the R30 DVD is seeing how much fun the guys really seem to be having together on stage.

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  4. I went to see rush last night in newcastle
    The show was pretty good!
    and i found out that the washing machines were infact his amps it said in the show guide that we bought that had a interview with geddy in it. He was sick of people asking about the washing machines so decided to change to ovens with chicken in it.

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