Rush Live At The Ottawa Bluesfest

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Tuesday, July 20, 2010 @ 2:47 PM

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This was a pretty fun-filled itinerary for a Sunday afternoon for me: Watch Spain defeat the Netherlands to claim its first World Cup trophy at a meeting place in Ottawaís Little Italy, celebrate the event with a good several hundred Spanish expatriates and their families gorging on calamari, knocking back cans of imported Estrella and chanting "Viva EspaŮa!", then go and catch the sounds of Canadaís premier powerhouse trio consisting of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart just down the street at Bluesfest.

With an elaborate stage show that was 3 hours long, there was no way anyone could accuse Rush of not being working men. Their current DVD Beyond The Lighted Stage is a culmination of the band on one of two extensive North American tours they did for 2007ís critically acclaimed Snakes & Arrows which was overseen by the band members themselves and when the band werenít touring for that album they were busy writing material for the follow-up album Clockwork Angels Ė of which two new songs "Caravan" and "BU2B (Brought Up To Believe)" were debuted at this show. There were also the brief cameos that the band members made in a few well-known movies as well (Alex Lifeson playing a cop in Trailer Park Boys: Countdown To Liquor Day, the band playing themselves in I Love You Man) and somewhere in between Neil Peart honed his jazz influences even further in his already stellar playing, releasing a couple of instructional DVDís that highlighted his musicianship along the way.

And this just took place over the past 3 years, so, yeah, I can forgive a few yearsí absence considering I stalled on getting a ticket on time for their last Ottawa show in September 2007. This time, I chose free will and decided that my first way-overdue Rush concert can coincide with Spainís first World Cup.

Opening the 3-hour show was a cleverly made self-mocking video montage of the band as strange period characters at a talent show being held at a Yiddish delicatessen. With the wild fretwork of Alex Lifeson opening "The Spirit Of Radio" from 1980ís Permanent Waves, the trio took to the stage and opened the Ottawa date on their Time Machine tour which as the title suggested was indeed a journey through the decades that personified Rushís growth as a band into the musical entity whose number of gold records sold is third to only the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. The fluctuation from albums of less critical acclaim such as Counterparts and Presto to their best-known work such as 2112 was deliberate yet as well-played as the musicianship that accompanied it and it included a special treat for diehard fans in the form of the performance of entire Moving Pictures album. Geddy Lee acknowledged that the band had "a zillion songs" that they were eager to play that night and with the 25,000-strong audience mesmerized to the sounds of Lifesonís sweeping riffs and Peartís solid drum work those 3 hours seemed more like minutes. With a giant screen as a backdrop showing as many, well, moving pictures as possible to coincide with the lyrical meaning behind the songs that were played and an extravagant light and pyro show, Rushís performance always kept the audienceís attention at ease. The 3-D animation during new song "Caravan", for example, rivalled the special effects off of anything from the Will Smith box office bomb Wild Wild West; the clever-sequenced images showed while introducing "Limelight", "Red Barchetta" and "YYZ" showed an obvious Monty Python influence; and the rapid succession of video shots of New York and London during "The Camera Eye" was straight out of the video from the Smithsí "The Queen Is Dead" (if it hadnít been for the shots of London during the song Iíd assumed they were playing "Manhattan Project" instead).

As eye-catching as the visuals were during the concert, Rush always made sure that the music also left an impression on fans both young and old as they incorporated different intros and time changes to tried and true classics like "Closer To The Heart" and the closing number "Working Man", which was highlighted with a funky reggae tinge during the first and second chorus before it broke down into the solid driving extended guitar solo that personified it, demonstrating the old adage that an approach of all work and no play wouldíve made Rush a dull band that night. And to prove how much they donít take themselves too seriously, the members appear in a clip at the end with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel backstage reprising their roles from I Love You Man who steal Neil Peartís sandwich and get Paulís double-necked bass guitar signed after some awkward bluffing and an imitation of Liam Neeson attempting a Jamaican accent ("You sound like a leprechaun!" Ė Alex Lifeson on Paul Ruddís "Slappa da bass!" catchphrase).

Itís always all in good fun for Rush which is why their quirky sense of humour has stood the test of time along with their music over the years. Simply moving.


  • "The Spirit Of Radio"
  • "Time Stand Still"
  • "Presto"
  • "Stick It Out"
  • "Workiní Them Angels"
  • "Leave That Thing Alone"
  • "Faithless"
  • "BU2B (Brought Up To Believe)"
  • "Freewill"
  • "Marathon"
  • "Subdivisions"
  • "Tom Sawyer"
  • "Red Barchetta"
  • "YYZ"
  • "Limelight"
  • "The Camera Eye"
  • "Witch Hunt"
  • "Vital Signs"
  • "Caravan"
  • Drum solo
  • "Closer To The Heart"
  • "2112 Overture/The Temples Of Syrinx"
  • "Far Cry"
  • "La Villa Strangiato"
  • "Working Man"

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