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Jul 18 2004

Rush: 30th Anniversary Tour

A good friend and avid fan of the classic rock group Rush has written an incredible review of Rush's now ongoing 30th Anniversary Tour. While there may be a greater Rush fan, although it's hard to imagine, there probably is not one who is as intelligent and articulate. Reading his review brought back memories of my own Rush experiences as he recounts the band's history through the songs they play, and don't play, during the concert. Below is JR's review:


I have been a fan of the band for most of their 30 years. The first time I saw them was on the Moving Pictures tour. It was Independence Day at Alpine Valley ("acoustically designed by Mother Nature" - ask if you want to know) and the Joe Perry Project was the opener. I remember enjoying the show immensely, even though (or maybe because) I had some drinks thanks to my older cousin who wasn't drinking age himself.

I have seen the band at least once on every tour since then. The band could do no wrong for a while. They always seemed to play the favorites and most of the new album when they came to town. And they'd usually bring along a good opening act (Gary Moore, Marillion, Primus, Mr. Big), so I could act cool (just an act, though) because I knew and/or liked the opener. Hey, it was the '80s.

During the mid to late '80s, the band made good music even though it didn't do as much for me as other stuff (Power Windows & Hold Your Fire are good records - I just preferred their bookends much more). They seemed to want to experiment more and, I feel, they lost touch a little bit with their essence as a rock band. I liked Presto and Roll the Bones (hell, I like all of the records - even the one with John Rutsey). When Counterparts came out, it was a revelation for me. They ROCKED again. The only problem with them as a touring act was that their back catalogue was becoming too large for a normal set and they were going to be leaving out more and more as they continued forward.

They read my mind and starting with the Test for Echo tour, they played 2 sets and, in a sense, opened for themselves (and it's cheaper that way, I'd imagine). Now. if they'd just kill off some of the big radio hits and open up the set for the freaks like me, I'd achieve nirvana (or Xanadu)...

The band is celebrating 30 years as a touring act and they refer to this as their birthday party. A few days before the show, I looked at the songs in iTunes and picked out material they haven't played forever or for a while and left out the hits. I gave up at Hold Your Fire because I had about 40 songs...


I saw them in Chicago with a long-time friend and in Milwaukee with another group of people while some long-time friends were in the audience.

Show time was 7:30 and they started just about on time (better than many airlines, I might add). There was a video montage which featured all of their album artwork morphing into one another and was very cool. Then we discover a short film featuring the world's oldest RUSH fan, Jerry Stiller. As he does a skit and as implores the guys to get on stage, Alex Lifeson rushes on to the stage and the band launch into a medley of snippets which has the crowd in a tizzy. We go from Finding My Way to Anthem to Bastille Day to Passage to Bangkok (yes, that song) to Cygnus X-1 to Hemishperes/Prelude. As the crowd (and Jerry Stiller) roar their approval, Alex Lifeson starts playing the famous intro to Spirit of Radio and off we go again. As the band and crowd catch their collective breaths, the taped intro to Force Ten breaks the chronological order of the set and hurtles us into a later phase of the band's career. Next up was Animate, a personal favorite of mine and one I was happy they wheeled out (it was not played on VT tour). Old studio/live favorite, Subdivisions, gets the crowd excited. A VT song, Earthshine is up next and features some excellent video work as stars appear to be shooting from the guitar during the solo. (Cynical comment alert) The crowd, weaned on today's Classic Rock stations which ignore bands current material and, thus ensures an aging and potentially dwindling listener base, heads for the bathrooms. I hope they washed their hands before they ran back to hear Red Barchetta (for the first time since Power Windows tour, I think). After Bravado, they play YYZ (sans drum solo) and The Trees. They have a new CD, Feedback, out now which features RUSH covering some '60s & '70s tunes and we get their take on The Seeker (The Who) before One Little Victory heats things up again and the band head off and take a well-earned break.


After 15 minutes or so, another funny video montage starts and leads us into Tom Sawyer. Secret Touch (VT) is an impressive live song and is noticeably heavier live. My other favorite for the evening was Between the Wheels which I may have never seen live (can't remember them playing it on GUP tour). My only real complaint about the show was that they played Mystic Rhythms and followed it up with Red Sector A. I really like these songs - I just felt they stunted the momentum that was building. After Neil Peart's drum solo on his wicked looking new kit, we get Resist and Heart Full of Soul (cover #2) acoustically with Geddy Lee playing a Taylor (a man after my heart!). In the band's defense, they may have slowed down the pace because they increased the energy at the end as they ripped through Overture/Temples/Finale, La Villa Strangiato, By-Tor and the Snow Dog, Xanadu (ALL of it), and Working Man. Whew. Did I mention they weren't done? Sorry 'bout that.

For an encore they played a couple of covers and another song you might know. We heard Summertime Blues, Crossroads and Limelight before Jerry Stiller and the band's light set said "Bye bye."

A tremendous evening of awesome music played by people passionate and talented for a very partisan crowd. Besides Camera Eye, what else could I ask for...

For anybody that was wondering, we heard something from every album except Presto.

If you made it this far, thanks.

Any complaints, you've got the e-mail address. Just remember, this is one-take with no overdubs or tapes used. Just spell check.

Special thanks to Murph Dog (for asking me to do this) and to Randy and Dave for always being there as 2 shining examples of what friendship is truly about as well as tremendous RUSH fans.


Posted by Don |


  1. #1
    Brad said on July 23, 2004 | Reply

    Nice review - a very nice read - can't wait for my 5 shows in August in the NE.

    Just a comment that it'd be great to add photo credit to Andrew MacNaughtan :)


  2. #2
    Don said on July 24, 2004 | Reply

    "...it'd be great to add photo credit to Andrew MacNaughtan"...you just did! Five shows...that's pretty hardcore.

    Actually, you've hit upon one of my many failings, not providing photo credits where available. I've seriously thought about doing it, but my putting off actually doing it has become a de facto decision that I won't do it. I rationalize it by this being a non-profit, amateur, personal blog, and that somehow makes it OK. I know I'm wrong, but that's the way it is.

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