Review: Rush – Time Stand Still (Documentary)

rush-time-stand-still

So you’re saying there’s a chance?

However high, or low, the possibility, Rush fans shouldn’t hold their breath for their beloved members of the famed Canadian rock group to return to the stage, though the door wasn’t exactly slammed shut during the documentary of Rush Time Stand Still shown nationwide on Thursday for one night only in select theaters around the country.

The much anticipated film chronicling what’s believed to be the band’s final major tour picked right up where R40 left off in 2015 – sold out – albeit in a movie theater. After an animated short and a 20 minute introduction titled “Salute to Kings” featuring interviews with Gene Simmons of KISS, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart (with Nancy describing Rush music as a dog whistle only heard by males), and Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters, among others “Time Stand Still” began with a backdrop of the concert from Portland, OR and some haunting words from Rush bassist and vocalist Geddy Lee when he said walking away from it is not fun before cutting to Lee in the backseat of a car heading to the first show of the R40 tour.

Time Stand Still (available Nov. 18 on DVD and Blu-Ray) follows in the same vein as 2010’s Rush – Beyond the Lighted Stage but proved less about the band’s history, as the first documentary covered quite well, and more about now. Narrated by actor Paul Rudd, the film followed Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart from opening night in Tulsa, OK to the final show on Aug, 1, 2015 at The Forum in Los Angeles with various snippets and interviews in between.

A handful of super fans were featured including one gentleman with a 90-plus page of documented Rush memorabilia he owned, the founder of RushCon and one of the more emotional moments talked to fan George Summers from Scotland who survived a brutal car crash and used Rush’s music, specifically the fantastic “Everyday Glory,” (finally gets its due!) to help him through injury and recovery.

But the stars of this movie of course make up the stars of Rush. Lee, Lifeson and Peart re-told a few stories of the past – some rather comical – “The Bag” – others touching – Lifeson finding out the lead truck driver was getting married and stopped the caravan to bring some champagne and celebrate with the engaged couple in the cab – and one hilarious – the speed metal arrangement for “Subdivisions.” But most accounts discussed the rigors of touring, the love of the band from devotees and touring personnel, and a mostly unwilling embrace of the inevitable end.

Surely, time is the infinite jest on Rush and their fans.

Age knows no boundaries even when it comes to childhood heroes who seemingly return every few years like clockwork for nearly half a century. Peart struggled through a painful foot fungus during the R40 tour and Lee and Lifeson recounted seeing the drummer’s hands during the final shows which were cracked and calloused. The men laughed at their own expressive demeanor when it came to their personal pain threshold over the years but marveled at Peart’s stoicism. Lifeson, too, struggles with arthritis which Lee described as a ticking time bomb.

Time Stand Still neared tenebrific at times in terms of any future dates to the stage. Peart said he was done with touring after the band’s first tour. And, not until the Clockwork Angels tour did he feel happy about a tour. In fact, R40 was an 11th hour approval after the mates got together to discuss the band’s future – Peart was out with a slight window –  and it was Lifeson who said, “Let’s do it one more time” that fully opened it.  Lee appeared genuinely doleful, at times.

Time Stand Still was well-done and felt like a Part 2 or continuation of Beyond the Lighted Stage. Yet, Donna Halper, the woman credited for bringing Rush to the United States was nowhere other than a camera shot of a poster thanking her, and perhaps a bit too much time committed to the RushCon founder. You have to wonder who got left on the cutting room floor.

The end of touring enveloped the hour and 40 minute long film, yet, still no one broached the subject of Rush creating new music, a topic not asked or really discussed during interviews of the band members since their “retirement.” Lee and Lifeson have indicated a willingness to move forward together with Lee saying their music would sound like Rush without Neil. But writing and recording a new album is something easily done with today’s technology allowing Lee, Lifeson and Peart to collaborate from the comfort and confines of their own homes. If they so desire.

Indeed, a glimmer of hope remains to freeze the moment of Rush a little bit longer. “If there’s more there’s not a lot more,” said longtime manager Ray Danniels and as “The Garden” from Clockwork Angels somberly played while the cameras followed Lee and Lifeson off The Forum stage into the backroom, before the screen went black, Lifeson perhaps nudged the window slightly ajar.

But it wasn’t enough to diminish an overall presentiment of closure.

Written By: AndrewT

Album Review: Rush – R40 Live CD

Rush is never going to get a #1 album as long as they continue to release a much anticipated new album the same day someone else, who has a wider fan base, releases theirs.

R40 Live has ZERO chance of going #1 against Adele’s new album and it is pretty rare for a live album to top the charts but this album proves what everyone who attended the sold out shows during the summer discovered – Rush has way too much left to call it a career.

Released on its own or as a combo with the video version on DVD or Blu-Ray Rush R40 Live captures the full essence of the band’s sold-out live performance this summer and fully rectifies the abysmal Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland that featured a less than stellar vocal performance by singer Geddy Lee. Though it should be noted the DVD of that tour proved otherwise.

Filmed and recorded during the two night stand in Toronto, Canada, R40 Live in fact should put an end to any debate about Lee’s vocal range and his ability to sing Rush songs into his 60s. It’s a near masterful performance considering his age, years of singing and the altitudes he reaches on those early tracts that come after two hours of singing. Lee reportedly practiced for months getting to a vocal range that compliments what he left behind after the 1970s.

Of course he doesn’t reach the falsetto of those early records, he probably couldn’t 20 years ago, and even if you’re not a fan of those years because of his vocals, the polished performance he produced cannot be denied.

R40 Live showcases the widest catalog of Rush material ever recorded and does a solid job of providing a souvenir for those who caught a show and giving those who didn’t a glimpse into what they missed. The performances are nearly flawless on every level. The recording sounds unprocessed and is an accurate reflection of what came out of the amps those two nights.

The live album starts off with “The Anarchist” and while it doesn’t show-off Lee’s coming vocal performance (a bit garbled at times) it does feature his hard-thumping bass guitar which often takes the limelight throughout the entirety of the album. The band stuck in the emotional “How It Is” on Disc One as the primary offering from Vaper Trails even though “One Little Victory” routinely got the nod during the tour. That song got placed on Disc Three.

R40 Live follows the concert setlist starting with newer songs off 2012’s Clockwork Angels and tracking back in time to 1974 finishing with “What You’re Doing” and “Working Man” off the band’s self-titled debut album. Rush also played on the tour this album commemorates, for the first time live, “Losing It” off Signals and brought Ben Mink the original electric violinist from the album. His performance is featured on the opening disc and the performance by Jonathan Dinklage who played with the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble on the 2013 tour is on Disc Three.

There’s little sense in going through the album song-by-song but the standouts include “Headlong Flight,” “Losing It,” “The Camera Eye” and all the tracts from the 1970s. Guitarist Alex Lifeson’s blistering solo on “Working Man” roars to life despite not “being there.” And no your ears don’t deceive you, drummer Neil Peart’s traditional solo is present and accounted for but it’s no longer the eight minute marathon, instead coming midway through “Headlong Flight” and a longer second solo on “Cygnus X-1.”

The version sold at Best Buy comes with a Rush R40 pocket flashlight, otherwise save a few bucks on Amazon or get a package deal through the Backstage Club that comes with one of the tour shirts.

Grade: A-

Rush R40 Live CD Disc 1 Setlist:

  1. The Anarchist
  2. Headlong Flight
  3. Far Cry
  4. The Main Monkey Business
  5. How It Is
  6. Animate
  7. Roll the Bones
  8. Between the Wheels
  9. Losing It (with Ben Mink)
  10. Subdivisions

Rush R40 Live CD Disc 2 Setlist:

  1. Tom Sawyer
  2. YYZ
  3. The Spirit of Radio
  4. Natural Science
  5. Jacob’s Ladder
  6. Hemispheres: Prelude
  7. Cygnus X-1/The Story So Far (drum solo)
  8. Closer to the Heart
  9. Xanadu
  10. 2112

Rush R40 Live CD Disc 3:

  1. Lakeside Park/Anthem
  2. What You’re Doing/Working ManOne Little Victory
  3. Distant Early Warning
  4. Red Barchetta
  5. Clockwork Angels
  6. The Wreckers
  7. The Camera Eye
  8. Losing It (with Jonathan Dinklage)

Written By: AndrewT

Rush Is Alive and Well – No Plans to Retire

Attention all Planets of the Solar Federation:

Rush’s Alex Lifeson Says There’s Life After R40 Tour: ‘I Don’t Think It Is the End’

Rumors of Rush’s demise have been greatly exaggerated — at least according to guitarist Alex Lifeson.

The Canadian trio’s R40 tour earlier this year — documented on the new R40 Live CD and home video set due Friday — was accompanied by reports that it would mark the end of Rush, mostly owing to physical ailments suffered by Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart. It may well prove to be the last tour of its kind for Rush, but the band is still very much alive and ongoing, as far as Lifeson is concerned.

Read more here plus check out Lifeson’s comments on a new album at the end of the article!

Concert Review: Rush at The Forum – The Final Show

There will never be another Rush.

This much is true.

The trio hailing from Toronto, Canada closed a large chapter of their 40 year + career to a sold out crowd on Saturday at the Forum in Los Angeles. The final concert of the 40th anniversary tour is quite certainly the last of its kind but whether it is indeed their last of all time only the future knows or at least Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart.

It was another stellar evening with Lee in strong command of his vocals along with a very present bass, Lifeson, ever the virtuoso on guitar, in pristine form, and Peart the professor behind the drum kit. They kept it straight, no extra songs, nothing different than what’s already been played since they embarked on the R40 tour on May 8 in Tulsa, OK.

The final show got “Losing It” off Signals. This time Jonathan Dinklage, who played with the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble during the last tour, took violin duties. Who would have thought the violin could rock so hard?

When it was all over the three stood arm-in-arm. A site I’ve never seen before. Peart didn’t bolt off stage, instead he stuck around. Lee’s concluding remarks: “And I do hope we meet again sometime.”

To say it’s time to hang up the guitars and put away the drum sticks is not only unfair but a false premise. Now in their 60s, nary a glitch accompanied the nearly three hour sets and nothing but positive reviews about the live show. Lifeson’s struggles with arthritis, now pretty widely known, he showed no ill effects. Lee reached back and brought to life a vocal range he hadn’t hit since the 70s. And Peart, sure his drum solo got cut in half from past tours, but he still puts on a clinic.

It’s an odd thing to say goodbye. It’s not like they are family. But in many respects they are. To legions of fans this band represents a porthole into their past, the feel good of the present and a lifeline when the future was looking dark. Rush told us we’re the ones who have to shine; but they provided the electricity.

All good things do come to an end or in the case of Rush, all great things. In the chronicles of rock history good luck finding a band so, well, like Rush. Somehow they found each other.

So loved. Respected. Admired. That professionalism. The raw talent. Fully embraced for their music and as people. At least by those who understand what it is all about. Perhaps a debt of gratitude then is owed to the detractors of so many years ago, who by the way, no one remembers. In many respects, it was those people who fought the fire, while feeding the flame.

Rise from the ashes a blaze of everyday glory. Or at least from the Down the Tubes tour.

Wow, didn’t they?

Saying goodbye or at least acknowledging the time has come to get prepared to say goodbye is not easy. Rush means so many things to so many people. Surely it would be easier if Mr. Peart had departed long ago and Alex and Geddy trudged on. Or, Mr. Lifeson went solo or joined another three-piece as Geddy and Neil moved forward with a new lineup. Mr. Lee’s solo album? Let’s face it. Sounded a bit like Rush but in many respects it didn’t. Something was missing. Yes, the singer is always the benchmark of a band. But can you imagine: “Featuring the voice of Rush – Geddy Lee!” Nope. Rush is and always will be GAN.

Saying goodbye means closing the door on my childhood. The preteen years. The teenage years. My 20s. My 30s. Saying goodbye means reminiscing on all those memories takes a whole different perspective.

Like that time I got my dad to take me to Music Plus so I could purchase Signals and Exit…Stage Left. Back then “live” albums were always more expensive. I settled on the studio album and informed my father I wasn’t going to spend the money required for the live version. As we drove away in the car, Signals in hand, my dad insisted on playing whatever he picked up, probably Neil Diamond. Actually, it was Exit…Stage Left.

It’s important to note my dad is not, will not, nor will ever be a Rush fan. And he also doesn’t get my fondness for the group that has been in my life longer than anybody sans my immediate family. He’s really not even into music for that matter.

I also have vivid memories of nearly every album purchase or, in the case of Grace Under Pressure, acquisition. My fifth grade classmate told me he went to a swap meet and they were giving away Rush albums. Huh? One of those was 2112, the other was one I did not have or even one that sounded remotely familiar.

So I told him to bring me the unfamiliar one. The day I arrived home with it my brother was on his way to, what else, Music Plus to buy the new Rush album. You mean Grace Under Pressure? Ha Ha! You see I already had it. Thanks to a guy named Keith. To this day I don’t know what the real story was behind those giveaways.

Sweet memories.

How about a literally midnight hour plan for a 24 hour turnaround trip from Portland, OR to San Jose, CA to catch the Counterparts tour with a friend who wasn’t much of a fan? I convince well. The Rush songs at my wedding. My wife recognizing Rush is not music for morons. The girls in fourth grade who told me about that new band that was better than Rush? Yes, Duran Duran is still together but…

Seeing them at Red Rocks? Check. Would there ever be a better concert than the wind-driven Snakes and Arrows show at the beautiful The Gorge in George, Washington? A sound Memorex could never reproduce. Little did I know, that night would meet its match many years later as I sat third row during the R40 tour. Celebrating my birthday with Rush at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Did that too. I wish I could live it all again.

I could go on. And on. So could any fan. Check that. Authentic fan.

What is it about this band? One concert is never enough. We get amped up at the very hint of time spent in the studio. Any “limited edition” item is an immediate sell-out. Do we have some type of common denominator? Were we all cast outs? Or all Second Borns? Is Rush to our ears akin to how those with a refined palate appreciate certain delicacies? Did my nine years as a trombone player help me appreciate their craft? No one understands the bass cleft!

Maybe it is Authenticity.

If one word could sum up Rush, perhaps it is authenticity. Rush is the equivalent to rock music as “what the players wear” or “on-field apparel” is for fans who wear football or baseball jerseys. What fan buys a replica jersey for half the cost? I want what the players wear! Therefore, I want what the musicians play and the musicians play Rush.

As the songs ticked off on this final night, would this be the last time? That dreamy solo on “The Main Monkey Business.” One of the most complete rock songs in “Distant Early Warning.” The opening to “Far Cry.” That ending to “Jacob’s Ladder.” The beautifully long intro on “Xanadu.”

Just imagine what they’re going through on this trek through the past as the evening comes to a close. This is the last time we play “The Spirit of Radio” together. “Subdivisions” too. “One Little Victory” means so much, will it turn into one more? Should we have played “Fly By Night” or brought out another one of our missing “children” on this, our final night as a band. Even more apropos now then during the Time Machine tour – “Time Stand Still.” But it was left off, maybe because it reminded them and that we must mold a new reality. Our old friends are growing older.

But that’s what we all want. To freeze this moment a little bit longer. And make each impression a little bit stronger.

Rush started off the R40 tour with everyone believing this was the last chance to watch three living rock legends. Though they didn’t actually say it. Then possible future albums were mentioned. Geddy said the band wasn’t breaking up. And touring was still on the table though for sure the large scale multiple city effort was in its last days. Fair enough. We’ll come to you now. Just invite us. Please.

So, perhaps they’ll give that to us. Remain immortal just a little bit longer. Maybe Geddy and Alex will finally give Neil his wish albeit 25 years late. We’ll take a few more albums sans the big tour won’t we? You know what? Two more studio albums (Feedback doesn’t count!) and two more “live” albums gives Rush the most appropriate stopping point. 21-12. Yes, wishful thinking but it would at least hold off the inevitable and provide us a few more years.

Because as long as Rush enters the studio or takes the stage we’re still 10. Or 12 or 21. Or whatever slice of life that so defines the Rush years. It gives us one more opportunity to feel that excitement shiver up and down our spine. Before it’s gone. Forever.

A new album, a new tour even on a small scale means we’re still young, wondering the face of the earth and wondering what our dreams might be worth.

The world could use their beauty, for a while longer. Besides, I’m not ready to say goodbye.

I hope they aren’t either.

Rush R40 Tour – Los Angeles (The Forum) Setlist:

  1. The Anarchist
  2. Headlong Flight
  3. Far Cry
  4. The Main Monkey Business
  5. One Little Victory
  6. Animate
  7. Roll the Bones
  8. Distant Early Warning
  9. Losing It
  10. Subdivisions
  11. Tom Sawyer
  12. Red Barchetta
  13. The Spirt of Radio
  14. Jacob’s Ladder
  15. Cygnus X-1 and X-2 Medley with Drum Solo
  16. Closer to the Heart
  17. Xanadu
  18. 2112
    1. Overture
    2. The Temples of Syrinx
    3. Presentation
    4. Grand Finale
  19. Lakeside Park
  20. Anthem
  21. What You’re Doing
  22. Working Man

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Canada Bids a Farewell to Their Kings

Alex and Geddy Feature Photo

The One Direction fans that filled BC Place Stadium on Friday night have no idea what they missed.

But the Rush fans who filled Rogers Arena sure do.

Now on the tail-end of their R40, and possibly final tour, celebrating 40 years, Rush played the remaining scheduled date in their home country stopping off in Vancouver, BC and played a 23 song, nearly three hour long set delighting old and young fans (who didn’t go across the street) with a strong setlist featuring a whole bunch of older songs but quite a few newer ones too.

The youngsters from Toronto opened with two each from their last two albums starting with “The Anarchist” and the driving “Headlong Flight” from Clockwork Angels released just three years ago, and then “Far Cry” and the superific instrumental “The Main Monkey Business” off 2007’s Snakes and Arrows which featured one of many blazing solos by guitarist Alex Lifeson. The 2000s came to a close with the defiant “One Little Victory.”

Alex Lifeson on Guitar

Rush Guitarist Alex Lifeson

By now, whether it’s your first introduction to what the tour comprises or you already know what’s literally going on behind the scenes, Rush is stepping back in time ticking off a song or two from their albums along the way. Meanwhile, stage hands quietly slip on stage and begin removing props that the dedicated fan base knows represents different tours.

Not present on this night Test for Echo, Presto, Hold Your Fire and Power Windows, the latter album getting serious stage time a few years ago on the Clockwork Angels tour. But the rest of their 15 studio albums (not counting the covers album Feedback) stretching back to 1974 all got the live treatment for at least one song.

Representing the 1990s, just two songs, the bass heavy “Animate” off Counterparts and the fun title track off Roll the Bones. Rush simply rocked out to “Distant Early Warning” one of the finest rock songs of the 1980s that just doesn’t get much radio play for some reason.

Then it was what everyone was waiting for. The rumors were confirmed weeks ago. But what night(s) would the song so many thought should have been played on the last tour that featured a string ensemble? Tonight was one.

Geddy Lee Singing

Geddy Lee singing and on bass guitar

Famed violinist, fellow Canadian and resident of Vancouver, Ben Mink appeared and one of Rush’s most emotionally driven songs came to life. “Losing It” never played before this tour completed the evening and the show wasn’t even half over. Long ago Rush’s reputation for their dedication to and remaking so accurately live the songs on their albums helped build their rapid following. This performance proved why.

It’s an interesting song to bring to what’s billed as a final large tour. Much speculation has arisen about Rush’s future. Singer and bassist Geddy Lee, drummer Neil Peart and Lifeson are now in their early 60s but are far from losing it. Fans and critics agreed, for once, embracing their latest, Clockwork Angels, and the band is playing just as strong as they did during the Snakes and Arrows tour perhaps the pinnacle of their career when it was noted that Lee was not simply singing but performing.

No longer is Lee’s higher range vocals a concern as far as the longevity of the band. He hit all the high notes and even managed to raise the bar reaching back to his 70s register when he sounded like the damned howling in Hades. Though he certainly was stretching his limits on “Lakeside Park” which sounded a bit raw as did “Anthem” but then he brought it home for the 41 year old “What You’re Doing” and “Working Man” all four in that order, for the encore, ended the night.

However, it’s Lifeson who hardly plays like some managing arthritis but indeed it’s this ailment that even Lee believes could ultimately end the band. He’s been dealing with it now for 10 years and it’s progressed into his feet but you wouldn’t know it as he carried around double-neck guitars on “Xanadu” playing one of the best openings to a rock song ever recorded. His blistering solo on “Working Man” yes at the end of three-hours of playing is what should make Eric Clapton want to burn his guitar.

Neil Peart Vancouver

Drummer Neil Peart

Rush followed “Losing It” and closed out the first set with “Subdivisions” both off 1982’s Signals. They opened the second half with “Tom Sawyer” and the airport-code instrumental “YYZ” before playing half of Permanent Waves the first album released in 1980. Audience and radio favorite “The Spirit of Radio,” musician’s favorite “Natural Science” and the rumbling “Jacob’s Ladder.”

The “Cygnus” medley comprising portions of Cygnus X-1 and Cygnus X-1 Book and incorporating a Peart drum solo followed, then “Closer to the Heart,” “Xanadu” (combined technically half of A Farewell to Kings!) and finally the song that in many respects started it all, 2112, closed out the second set with the band playing four of the song’s seven “suites” with another shredding solo by Lifeson to close it out.

There were a few flubs on the night though unless you were in the rows closest to the stage you’d probably never know it. The opening to “Roll the Bones” was a bit rough so was “Distant Early Warning” and there was an obvious issue with Lifeson’s guitar on “Jacob’s Ladder” as he was clearly agitated trying to get something working and got a bit of technical assistance. The song sounded in order, but once the problem was fixed the missing chords were very apparent.

All quite easily overlooked considering these three control all the sounds coming through the speakers.

It was an evening of mastery. Three musicians who, along with a lot of natural talent , put in a lot of hard work, refined their craft and established one of the longest running careers in rock history.

A stark difference to the manufactured pop that was happening just a stone’s throw away.

Rush R40 Tour – Vancouver, BC (Roger’s Arena) Setlist:

  1. The Anarchist
  2. Headlong Flight
  3. Far Cry
  4. The Main Monkey Business
  5. One Little Victory
  6. Animate
  7. Roll the Bones
  8. Distant Early Warning
  9. Losing It
  10. Subdivisions
  11. Tom Sawyer
  12. YYZ
  13. The Spirit of Radio
  14. Natural Science
  15. Jacob’s Ladder
  16. Cygnus Medley with drum solo
  17. Close to the Heart
  18. Xanadu
  19. 2112
    1. Overture
    2. The Temples of Syrinx
    3. Presentation
    4. Grand Finale
  20. Lakeside Park
  21. Anthem
  22. What You’re Doing
  23. Working Man

 

Rush R40 Tour – Seattle, WA (Key Arena) Setlist:

  1. The Anarchist
  2. The Wreckers
  3. Headlong Flight
  4. Far Cry
  5. The Main Monkey Business
  6. How It Is
  7. Animate
  8. Roll the Bones
  9. Between The Wheels
  10. Subdivisions
  11. Tom Sawyer
  12. The Camera Eye
  13. The Spirit of Radio
  14. Jacob’s Ladder
  15. Cygnus Medley with drum solo
  16. Close to the Heart
  17. Xanadu
  18. 2112
    1. Overture
    2. The Temples of Syrinx
    3. Presentation
    4. Grand Finale
  19. Lakeside Park
  20. Anthem
  21. What You’re Doing
  22. Working Man

Rush R40 Tour – Portland, OR (Moda Center) Setlist:

  1. The Anarchist
  2. Clockwork Angels
  3. Headlong Flight
  4. Far Cry
  5. The Main Monkey Business
  6. One Little Victory
  7. Animate
  8. Roll the Bones
  9. Distant Early Warning
  10. Subdivisions
  11. Tom Sawyer
  12. Red Barchetta
  13. The Spirit of Radio
  14. Jacob’s Ladder
  15. Cygnus Medley with drum solo
  16. Close to the Heart
  17. Xanadu
  18. 2112
    1. Overture
    2. The Temples of Syrinx
    3. Presentation
    4. Grand Finale
  19. Lakeside Park
  20. Anthem
  21. What You’re Doing
  22. Working Man

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Rush Rolls Back Time in Tulsa

Rush R40 Tour Tulsa

You’d think a band celebrating 40 years of touring and making music might sound a bit like a band that’s been touring and making music for 40 years.

Not so with the seemingly ageless Rush who is arguably more relevant now than at any time of their career.

The power trio hailing from Toronto, Canada that may or may not be calling it quits at the end of their current R40 tour got off to a stellar start on Friday at the BOK Center in Tulsa, OK in front of a mostly sold-out crowd that watched them stroll back through their extensive catalog of albums starting with the present and ending in a makeshift high school gym.

Geddy Lee R40 Tulsa

Geddy Lee was masterful all night in Tulsa both vocally and on bass guitar

Singer Geddy Lee, at 61 years young, rocked his vocals the entire night and seemed to be having way too much fun on bass as he traded-out guitars on nearly every song. Lee recently started a bass guitar collection and he clearly brought them on tour. The unassuming, always under-appreciated and better than most Alex Lifeson ripped it all night on guitar and the band’s newest member Neil Peart handled the drums proficiently.

As if to say their current music is just as important as their early tunes, Rush started off with not one or two songs off their most recent album Clockwork Angels, but three, the most of any albums represented on the night. After a clever animated film chronicling the band’s start from 1974 to open the show, complete with wardrobe upgrades and hairstyle changes, Rush kicked off with the title song from their 2012 masterpiece, then “The Anarchist” and the absolute rocking “Headlong Flight.”

At this point in the show stage crew began removing and or replacing some of the band’s props eliminating some of the more prominent Clockwork Angel pieces from the last tour for the Snakes and Arrows tour. “Far Cry” was next and then the very overlooked and only instrumental of the night “The Main Monkey Business” both off 2007’s Snakes and Arrows.

The hard fought “One Little Victory” from 2002”s Vapor Trails came next followed by the early 90s in “Animate” off Counterparts and “Roll the Bones” from the same titled album of 1991. Test for Echo, the last album of the 1990s for the band, was only represented by the inuksuk on Peart’s shirt and the last three albums of the 1980s got no love though Power Windows got its due on the last tour. Stage hands continued to remove or replace props throughout the evening and the band finished the first hour-long set with the always great “Distant Early Warning” and finally “Subdivisions” representing the start of the band’s keyboard era off 1982’s Signals.

After a 20 minute intermission which included showing outtakes and bloopers from videos played on the last couple of tours, Rush returned with a different stage set featuring a towering stack of amps, reminiscent of the early 1980s, behind Lee and Lifeson, and Peart added a second bass drum to his kit. Rush, of course, would never not play the iconic “Tom Sawyer” off the iconic Moving Pictures which opened the second set and the second tract and perhaps best song from the album, “Red Barchetta,” followed.

No surprise that “The Spirit of Radio” came next from Permanent Waves released on Jan. 1,  1980 but a big surprise in that “Jacob’s Ladder,” the closer to Side A of that album and a song Rush had not played live in decades finally got stage time. The lasers came out for this one and was a welcome addition to a setlist that so far featured much of the the same material on the previous three tours.

Rush R40 Tour Tulsa Lasers

Lasers were just a part of the stellar show and performance by Rush at Tulsa

The backward trek through the past continued with a medley of sorts starting with Cygnus X-1 Book 2 from Hemispheres that melted into a drum solo and ended with “Cygnus X-1” off A Farewell to Kings. Now knee deep in the 70s, Rush added two more from Kings with “Closer to the Heart” and the double-necks came out for “Xanadu.” The title track to the band’s breakthrough album 2112 a 20-minute seven part suite got reduced by more than half as the band closed out the second-set with the primary radio fare of the song, the third section entitled “Discovery” and the “Grand Finale.”

Once the band left the stage for the encore, a video featuring fellow Canadian Eugene Levy as a tour promoter projected on the large curtain in front of the stage and he introduced the “opening band” Rush and the threesome returned to the stage that by now lost most of the amps, featured a simple drape backdrop, Lee acting like a youngster and even the sound came off somewhat rough just like in the old days.

“Lakeside Park” from 1975’s Caress of Steel started the encore followed by “Anthem” the opening tract off 1975’s Fly by Night the band’s first album with Peart and then as the stage morphed into the Rod Serling High School gymnasium complete with a disco ball, Rush closed out with “What You’re Doing” and “Working Man” off the self-titled debut Rush now more than 40 years old.

Alex Lifeson R40 Tour Tulsa

Alex Lifeson continues to prove he’s one of the best guitarists of all time

 

All told, Rush played for nearly two and half hours with abundant energy and never let up, playing each song with the precision they’re known for. They were tight, sounded flawless except for a bit of excessive treble and distortion at the start, and had no wrinkles to iron out considering this was the tour’s opening night. If they did, the band certainly covered it up well. And, whoever came up with the idea of stripping away the years as the band marched backward in time deserves some extra credit. It certainly added to the overall entertainment package of the R40 tour and kept the audience guessing.

Lee’s bass playing was particularly striking throughout but especially chunky on “Far Cry” and “Roll the Bones.” He sounded just as strong vocally at the onset of the show as he did at the end hitting the high notes without seemingly any difficulty. In fact, he commanded the lyrics just as strong as he did 25 years ago.

Lifeson seemed a bit aloof, not particularly engaging the crowd as he often does, instead focusing on his craft playing with some serious intensity all night. His solos on “Headlong Flight,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” and “Working Man” are something to behold and he really drives “The Main Monkey Business.”

Geddy Lee and Neil Peart

Double bass on Neil Peart’s drum kit

 

Perhaps most notably absent on the R40 tour is the length of Peart’s drum solos. A long-time signature at Rush concerts, Peart pounded out a short one in the middle of “Headlong Flight” but the primary one featured between “Cygnus” wasn’t even half the length of his usual seven to eight minute numbers but still quite impressive especially considering earlier this year it was revealed he battles chronic tendonitis (maybe its arm pump from all the motorcycling) in his arms.

Rush billed the R40 tour as the last of its kind for the band in terms of magnitude which many quickly translated into a farewell tour. All three members seemed to enjoy the time off from their last tour that spanned over two years but now in their early 60s, despite the high level of playing all three manage to perform, it’s clear the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees cannot continue as most of their fans would like.

However, Lee said a few months ago Rush was still a band, seemed to indicate some type of future and while the comical video that concluded Friday’s show could be interpreted as the band walking away from it all, “R40+” displayed prominently on the stage curtain as the crowd dispersed.

Rush R40 Plus

Does this mean more Rush isn’t quite done yet?

 

Rush R40 Tour Setlist in Tulsa, OK

  1. Clockwork Angels
  2. The Anarchist
  3. Headlong Flight
  4. Far Cry
  5. The Main Monkey Business
  6. One Little Victory
  7. Animate
  8. Roll the Bones
  9. Distant Early Warning
  10. Subdivisions
  11. Tom Sawyer
  12. Red Barchetta
  13. The Spirit of Radio
  14. Jacob’s Ladder
  15. Cygnus X-1 Book 2/Drum Solo/Cygnus X-1 medley
  16. Closer to the Heart
  17. Xanadu
  18. 2112
    1. Overture
    2. Temples of Syrinx
    3. Presentation
    4. Grand Finale
  19. Lakeside Park
  20. Anthem
  21. What You’re Doing
  22. Working Man

Written By: AndrewT

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