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Rush in Houston, TX

By A Headbanger, Do You Bang Head?
Saturday, October 2, 2010 @ 2:37 PM

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Reviewed "Glam Chowder"

With this last outing, I have seen Rush six times beginning with the "Permanent Waves" tour. My favorite remains the following year's "Moving Pictures" tour, a set list any fan of classic Rush music would salivate over. I really don't care for much of their catalog post "Signals," and Rush always includes a hearty dose of material from all eras and usually several songs from their latest album. Although Rush was not touring a new album on the current "Time Machine" tour, they did play two new songs.

The title of the tour refers to the fact that Rush is performing the "Moving Pictures" album in it's entirety, which compels any classic Rush fan to immediately secure tickets. For brevity I won't post the entire set list which can be found easily elsewhere, I'm sure. It appears to be the same in all cities.

After a brief comedy video featuring the members of Rush in hilarious characters, the band opened with "The Spirit of Radio." The capacity crowd erupted. Geddy's voice was a little shaky on the opening number, but quickly warmed up by the middle of the first set. As is with my experience from many Rush shows of recent time, momentum was quickly lost with songs from albums like "Presto," "Hold Your Fire" and recent offerings. This went on for probably about seven songs, and ended as the band launched into "Freewill." Once again the crowed roared and sang along, especially on the familiar chorus line "I WILL CHOOSE FREEWILL!" Equally received was "Subdivisions." The band took a brief break and played another video. Now was what everyone had come for. The band launched into "Tom Sawyer" and played the entire "Moving Pictures" album in order, start to finish, without one word spoken in between. As James Lipton might say, it was magnanimous. "YYZ" was one of the best versions I have heard them play. "Witch Hunt" is always a treat, as was the rarely-heard "Camera Eye." This was followed by a new tune, "Caravan" which was actually well-received.

The professor then favored us with a drum solo. God, I love Neal Peart, but this was not one of his best. Okay, the guy is 58 years old. Playing drums for 150 minutes is not easy, and playing 150 minutes of Rush music has to be the Iron Man Competition of drumming. But after having seen him so many times before, one could not help by be disappointed. He just didn't seem as into it and animated, and this was for the whole show, not just his solo. Maybe it was just an off night. But, a 85% Peart is still light years ahead of most drummers.

Geddy Lee on the other hand was a monster. Stalking the stage and playing some licks on his Fender Jazz bass only he could crank out. Alex Lifeson, as always, was the glue that held everthing together. Tasteful guitar at its finest in both performance and tone, and I don't think he misssed a note all night. He interacted with the crowd, often smiling and making funny faces. As great as the "Moving Pictures" tunes were, the highlight of the evening may have have been "Overture" and "Temples of Syrynx" from "2112." While Geddy can't screech out those vocals anymore, the music alone was mesmerizing. The crowd loved it. I thought this would be the last song, but they followed this with a tune from the last album, "Far Cry." Weird choice - the crowd was in a frenzy and then another lull to end the show. The band came out for an encore and closed the evening with the classics "La Villa Strangiato" and "Working Man," although toying with the versions interjecting reggae and polka. (The same was done earlier with "Closer to the Heart.")

I don't think there is a such thing as a bad Rush show. But this one had a weird feel to it at times. But still worth every penny, because you get 2.5 hours of music and musicianship most can only dream of. (Some headliners now barely play an hour.) Unfortunately, Rush set that bar early in their career, and in 2010 many expect those great shows from the past. This wasn't a true "Time Machine" back to 1980, but damn close. "Magic music," indeed.

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