April 11, 2011

Rush: Time Machine Tour

Last night, I went to Madison Square Garden to see a concert by one of my favorite bands of all time: Rush!

This legendary rock trio's first release came out in 1974. Then, after the departure of their original drummer, John Rutsey, the other founding members (bassist/vocalist, Geddy Lee, and guitarist, Alex Lifeson) rounded out the group with the talents of drummer extraordinaire, Neil Peart, and it's all been history since then. Always ready to move in different musical directions and try new ideas, the band proceeded to produce a long string of classic albums that did not begin to taper off in quality until the synthesizer-laden late 80s. Tucked into their vast catalogue of material are several pieces that I regard as absolute masterpieces: "Hemispheres," "2112," "Permanent Waves," "Moving Pictures," and "Caress of Steel," to name a few.

I'm happy to report that almost 40 years after their initial appearance on the music scene, Rush is still rockin' and putting on amazing concerts! Always pushing the boundaries of entertainment, this tour features several humorous video clips that show the band's quirky, playful side. When the lights first go down, the screen behind the stage shows a fictional polka band named "Rash" playing "The Spirit of Radio" on accordion and tuba. The audience gets to enjoy a few minutes of inside jokes before Geddy, Alex, and Neil take the stage. The group sounds great these days and performs with high energy, though I have to admit that the song selections for the first half of the concert feature mostly newer material and the night began a little slow for me. I lost interest in Rush during the 90's and their more recent music is unfamiliar to my ear. A few memorable moments in the first half include "Freewill" (in which Geddy surprised me with his ability to still sing the high notes in the third verse) and the classic anthem "Subdivisions."

After an intermission and another video skit, the band once again takes the stage to play their classic breakout album "Moving Pictures" in its entirety. Now this is the Rush that I grew up with and the music that I love! It was great to hear rarities like "Camera Eye," "Red Barchetta," and "Vital Signs" electrifying the air at Madison Square Garden. From this point, the concert shifts into the classics and the band plays through most of their big hits. In all, Rush stays on stage for over three hours. The evening concludes with another skit showing what happens backstage after one of their concerts. With one last good laugh and a hearty cheer, the lights went up and I walked out of the Garden feeling satisfied and thoroughly entertained. Oh! What a Rush...

"I will be filled with joy because of you.
I will sing praises to your name,
O Most High."

~Psalm 9:2