Photos and Review by: Darren Eagles
Rush has hit the road on their R40 tour, possibly being their one last big hurrah of a tour. And their two hometown shows at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto proved to be some of the best work the trio has ever put together. Lithium caught the first of those shows. The band decided to take fans on a journey through their 40 odd years of rocking the world in reverse chronological order, from their newest release, “Clockwork Angels”, all the way back to the beginning.
Never a band to take themselves too seriously, the show was sprinkled with self deprecating videos and outtakes that showed the human side of one of the biggest yet more private bands in the world. As the lights dimmed, the large curtain that covered the stage served as a projection screen for these shorts. The show got rolling with three from “Clockwork Angels” that included an extended version of “Headlong Flight” featuring Neil Peart’s first killer drum solo of the night. Working though their later catalog with “Far Cry “ and the lesser known but amazing instrumental “The Main Monkey Business” from “Snakes and Arrows”, they continued with only one from “Vapour Trails” called “One Little Victory”.
The rap breakdown part of “Roll The Bones” saw film and TV stars that included Peter Dinklage, Paul Rudd, Jason Segal, Tom Morello, Corey Taylor, and The Trailer Park Boys lip-syncing the iconic verses on the video screens. Geddy Lee welcomed the fans said “we’re going to continue going back in time” as they kicked off “Distant Early Warning” from “Grace Under Pressure”.
Throughout the show, red coverall dressed stage hands, reminiscent of the movers on the cover of the bands album “Moving Pictures”, moved about while the band was playing, and rearranged the props and amp stacks alongside Peart’s kit. Beginning with the same set design as used in the “Clockwork Angels” tour, slowly the steam punk themed pieces were replaced with older set designs, like the Geddy’s clothes dryers from the “Snakes and Arrows” tour and Alex’s Hughes and Kettner amp stacks. Neil was using a front facing drum kit only as well, no revolving rear electronic kit for this tour. The first set finished up with their mega hit “Subdivisions” from “Signals”.
After a 20 min break the fans were treated to a video montage with included bloopers, outtakes and unprocessed green screen scenes from previous tour videos. And then the curtain rose as “South Park’s RUSH parody had the crowd laughing, to “Tom Sawyer” and “Red Barchetta” from “Moving Pictures”. During the break, the stage crew build Alex’s signature Marshall Stack wall, Geddy’s Ampeg bass amp wall, and changed out Neil’s drum kit for the double bass kit that was his ride of choice in the pre and early 1980’s. And that included the full rack of acoustic chimes standing guard behind him. There are a few songs that the chimes add an integral accent part and to see Neil stand and hit them for real again was a wonderful piece of the show.
“The Spirit Of Radio” and a powerful version of “Jacob’s Ladder” were the selections from “Permanent Waves”. Alex and Geddy were their quirky playful selves onstage at the same time pulling off their sonic magic to near perfection. The show then moved into the realm of the hardcore RUSH fan, as the keyboards were taken off the stage leaving the guys to take flight with “Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres Part I: Prelude” from “Hemispheres” and the raw and driving “Cygnus X-1 (Book One: The Voyage Parts 1” from “A Farewell To Kings” that gave us the second of Neil’s drum solos.
“Xanadu” saw the first glimpses of Alex and Geddy’s massive double neck guitars from days gone by. And then, Side One of their breakthough album “2112” closed out the second set. Now the stage was reduced to a single stack of amps on either side of Neil, which means we were almost back to the beginning.
Another short break next up was a 1970’s Eugene Levy in a white tuxedo on the screen introducing the “next band”, a new band only together for a few years, who had opened for KISS. And that maybe they would become more popular if they added a few more members, maybe some horns to give their music more “pop”. As the curtain rose, the stage gear had been reduced to Neil’s kit, one vintage guitar amp and one vintage bass amp, each sitting on a single wooden school stacking chair while two red stagehands stood each holding a short tower of stage lights. The video screen opened to show “Rod Serling” high school’s gym as a backdrop. We were back in the early 70’s and the stripped down band offered up a no nonsense hard driving four-song rock concert from their first three albums, ending off with the one that started us on this lifelong love affair with RUSH, “Working Man”.
Someone said it might have been a show for the ages, with one last big budget kick on the world’s stage. And if they choose to pack it up for smaller pastures in the future, they’ve given the fans more than most bands for longer than most bands. And that’s fine with us.
Click on images to enlarge. Set list included below.
The World Is… The World Is (film)
Headlong Flight (with “Drumbastica” mini drum solo)
The Main Monkey Business
One Little Victory
Roll the Bones
Distant Early Warning
No Country for Old Hens (film)
The Spirit of Radio
Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres Part I: Prelude
Cygnus X-1 (Book One: The Voyage Parts 1… more )
Closer to the Heart
2112 Part I: Overture
2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
2112 Part IV: Presentation
2112 Part VII: Grand Finale
Mel’s Rock Pile starring Eugene Levy (film)
What You’re Doing