Is R40 a Farewell Tour for Rush?

Rush R40

Updated: Read the R40 Tulsa Review

Rush fans everywhere began mapping out dates and clearing calendars after the announcement today of the R40 tour starting in May.

However, in all the excitement, many who jumped to the dates and places may have overlooked a notable sentence in the press release:

Rush is ready to celebrate with the most loyal fans in the world by embarking on their 21st tour, one which will most likely be their last major tour of this magnitude.

It’s certainly not definitive, leaves a window open for future plans, but the comment is telling and quite indicative that the band is closing in on calling it a career. While many Rush fans hoped for at least a new album or two and maybe even an R50 tour, it’s likely not the case.

Singer Geddy Lee recently said the band had enough “mojo” to put forth another album and he seemed bit with the itch to write new music and play live. But drummer Neil Peart, who hardly embraces the touring regime, clearly wants to spend time with family especially his young daughter. In an interview with Prog magazine this month, he said touring is a “true dilemma” and that he doesn’t like to leave his family. But last year, guitarist Alex Lifeson told Rolling Stone “I also think it’s going to be a long tour” when discussion future plans for an anniversary tour.

But all that is old news. The current news is Rush is indeed touring and many believe (or is it fear?) this is their curtain call. The planned tour is certainly not long – 35 shows – during the course of about three months but it looks to be geared towards the true Rush fan as old songs might be dusted off and songs never played could get the live treatment. One outlet is already reporting this to be the band’s last. Yahoo.com posted an article by the French news agency AFP entitled Rush to Mark 40 Years With Final Big Tour though it feels more like a rush to judgment especially with the silly comments on politics.

The band members are in their early 60s, certainly not old especially if you consider that 60 is the new 40 (or something like that) but the exertion it takes to hit the road and play a two-hour plus show every other night is a young man’s game.

If there’s a silver lining to not saying goodbye just yet to Geddy, Alex and Neil it’s in the wording of the press release. “…the last major tour of this magnitude.” Perhaps a little look at how U2 (no spring chicken themselves) is scheduling their 2015 tour offers a glimpse of what Rush could do in the future. Reduced travel and play multiple dates in one city. If there is a future for Rush beyond the R40 tour it’s likely a handful of dates in select markets.

For now, freeze this moment a little bit longer – Rush R40 Tour Dates below:

May 8, 2015 Tulsa BOK Center
May 10, 2015 Lincoln Pinnacle Bank Arena
May 12, 2015 St. Paul Xcel Energy Center
May 14, 2015 St. Louis Scottrade Center
May 16, 2015 Austin Austin360 Amphitheater
May 18, 2015 Dallas American Airlines Center
May 20, 2015 Houston The Toyota Center
May 22, 2015 New Orleans Smoothie King Center
May 24, 2015 Tampa Amalie Arena
May 26, 2015 Atlanta Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre
May 28, 2015 Greensboro The Greensboro Coliseum
May 30, 2015 Bristow (DC Area) Jiffy Lube Live
June 8, 2015 Columbus Nationwide Arena
June 10, 2015 Buffalo First Niagara Center
June 12, 2015 Chicago United Center
June 14, 2015 Detroit Palace of Auburn Hills
June 17, 2015 Toronto (I) Air Canada Centre
June 19, 2015 Toronto (II) Air Canada Centre
June 21, 2015 Montreal Bell Centre
June 23, 2015 Boston TD Garden
June 25, 2015 Philadelphia Wells Fargo Center
June 27, 2015 Newark Prudential Center
June 29, 2015 New York Madison Square Garden
July 9, 2015 Kansas City Sprint Center
July 11, 2015 Denver Pepsi Center
July 13, 2015 Salt Lake City Maverik Center
July 15, 2015 Calgary Scotiabank Saddledome
July 17, 2015 Vancouver Rogers Arena  
July 19, 2015 Seattle Key Arena  
July 21, 2015 Portland MODA Center  
July 23, 2015 San Jose SAP Center at San Jose  
July 25, 2015 Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena  
July 27, 2015 Phoenix US Airways Center  
July 30, 2015 Irvine Meadows Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre  
August 1, 2015 Los Angeles The Forum  

Concert Review: Gin Blossoms at Snoqualmie Casino

A rather lazy crowd greeted the Gin Blossoms first show of 2015 on Friday at the Snoqualmie Casino in Snoqualmie, WA where the band played a 16-song, 90 minute set in front of about 600 people.

A large portion of those in attendance remained seated for much of the concert including folks in the front rows which even singer Robin Wilson tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to get to their feet throughout the course of the show.

Granted Gin Blossoms’ music isn’t hard-charging rock but, hey, it’s still the Gin Blossoms.

The band from Tempe, AZ opened with “Follow You Down” from 1996’s Congratulations I’m Sorry and tapped into their latest album No Chocolate Cake, now more than four years old, with “Somewhere Tonight” and “Miss Disarray” during which the audience took to the seats and stuck a lot of the show’s energy under their chairs.

Wilson brought the acoustic out for “As Long As it Matters” but guitarist Jesse Valenzuela stole the spotlight on this one with some great soloing. The always fantastic “Found Out About You” from their multi-platinum New Miserable Experience brought the crowd back to its feet which solicited Wilson’s first comment about the audience mailing in their excitement.

Robin Wilson

Robin Wilson

The anguishing “Until I Fall Away” displayed Wilson’s heartbreaking vocals at their finest but the pace proved too slow for this audience to stand. “Learning the Hard Way,” one of many gems off of 2006’s Major Lodge Victory, but sadly the only tract played from the album, brought another rocking Valenzuela solo and a solid jam from everyone on stage. The band returned to their breakthrough album with “Lost Horizons” and “Allison Road” before stringing off three straight from No Chocolate Cake starting with the upbeat, but a bit silly, “Dead or Alive on the 405” which even Wilson said at the end, “I don’t understand the meaning of that song.”

Wilson finally managed to get the crowd back on their feet with the fun “I’m Ready” but it didn’t last long once “Wave Bye Bye” got going despite more great vocals. The band closed out the set with “Till I Hear It From You” and the always popular “Hey Jealousy” one of maybe three songs the band still gets airplay on local radio. The encore included “29” and the cover “A Million Miles Away.”

Overall, it was a solid set and the band played well. Wilson’s vocals were sharp. Their newest drummer Scott Hessel, who joined in 2012 and looks a lot like Dave Grohl, pounded out some good rhythms. Valenzuela and guitarist Scott Johnson compliment each other well and trade off performing solos.

Scott Johnson

Scott Johnson

But, the audience doesn’t deserve all the blame for their lackadaisical temperament. The Gin Blossoms seem content on squeezing as much as they can with their singles and a handful of other songs from the past. They showcased no new music which isn’t much of a surprise since Valenzuela said in an interview a while back that he’d be happy to record a single here and there and just play live shows for the next 20 years.

The band is planning a summer tour with other notable acts from the 1990s like Toad the Wet Sprocket and Smashmouth as they’ve done the last few years but for the most part hop around the country playing small venues. Two years ago at Spirit Mountain in Oregon in a venue twice the size and a whole lot more people, the band seemed on the cusp of regaining some of their 90s magic and popularity. This time around it was hardly a sell-out.

However, if they want to be a touring band, a la REO Speedwagon and Styx, it would do them well to at least release a few more albums. Sure, their catalogue of work holds up for a 90 minute show but they clearly have the energy to play and youth is on their side to release a few more LPs. Valenzuela seems ready to bust out some hard rock chords at a given notice and even Bill Leen, who seems oddly uncomfortable at times on stage, cranks out a pounding bass guitar.

Ironically, it was David Swafford, Wilson’s roommate when he was 20, who filled in for Leen on the final song, and provided some much-needed stage personality but to a cover song.

Gin Blossoms Setlist at Snoqualmie Casino

  1. Follow You Down
  2. Somewhere Tonight
  3. Miss Disarray
  4. As Long As it Matters
  5. Found Out About You
  6. Until I Fall Away
  7. Learning the Hard Way
  8. Lost Horizons
  9. Allison Road
  10. Dead or Alive on the 405
  11. I’m Ready
  12. Wave Bye Bye
  13. Till I Hear it From You
  14. Hey Jealousy
  15. 29
  16. A Million Miles Away

Written By: AndrewT