Rush still creating a buzz


Photo by: (Courtesy)

The Rush fan is portrayed with the use of this one word. Some may find it a bit insulting, but it’s true. As one of those nerds, I can personally vouch for the title’s soundness. Rush is a – no, the – cult band, and it’s relatively easy to find a word to describe the fans:
So 20,000 of us nerds – many average white guys in their 40’s – piled into American Airlines Center on Wednesday night with a giddy (or rather “Geddy”) feeling in our hearts, ready to hear likely the most unusual music being played by Officers of the Order of Canada, ready to pay a full hundred dollars for that black-and-red Rush baseball jersey reading “1974-2112” (well, almost ready to), and ready to finally put into practice our long-refined air drum fills.
What we got was a brilliant show of musicianship, from the opening synthesizers of “Subdivisions” to the closing insanity of the “2112” Grand Finale. Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, and Alex Lifeson’s skills at their respective instruments has not faded with time, and – with the exception of a dropped twirled drumstick towards the beginning of the show – the execution of their music was flawless.
Peart played two full-length drum solos during the concert. The first, midway through the jazzy instrumental “Where’s My Thing?,” was a traditional Peart solo, while the other had an 80’s electronic vibe to it. Both, however were splendid.
Rush, aided by an eight-man string section, played 26 songs over three hours, minus a short 15-minute intermission. Ten songs were played from the June release Clockwork Angels, omitting the heavy “BU2B” and its shorter, quieter sister “BU2B2.”
Some Rush die-hards may have left left a little disappointed, as most of the setlist was from the band’s 1980’s-era work, including three off of their Power Windows album, leaving off prog gems such as “Cygnus X-1” or the epic, nine-minute instrumental “La Villa Strangiato.” However, most of the classics – or the closest things to “classics” Rush has – were still a part of the show: “Subdivisions,” “The Spirit of Radio,” “YYZ,” “Tom Sawyer,” and “2112.”
The presence of the Rush cult atmosphere became undeniable: playing of all sorts of air-instruments (even synthesizers) was heavily popular; members of the crowd shouted “Hey!” during “2112” without cue and clapped along to the chorus of “Spirit of the Radio;” and I could quite easily hear people singing to the instrumental “YYZ.”
There are few things to equate the experience to, and maybe that’s why Rush is so strange to the outsider. They don’t even neatly fall into their own genre, with 80s synth playing alongside Jimmy Page-like guitar solos and the Canadian Buddy Rich. Meanwhile, the guys up on stage look just as normal as the guys in the crowd – sorry, not “guys” in the crowd, nerds.
Maybe a nerd like me should find a more normal band, one that fits into the mold of what music is supposed to sound like; one that isn’t so incredibly weird.