My brother wrote a way better post about the show than I’m going to, so go read his review… But short version is, the Rush show in St. Louis was a lot of fun.
(Fair warning — This post is kind of random and choppy, but I’m not going to clean it up. Sorry. I’m tired.)
The set list was a nice mix of old and new and the “time machine” format led to a lot of nice surprises like “Marathon,” “Presto,” “La Villa Strangiato” (in the ENCORE, no less!) and my personal favorite instrumental piece of theirs “Leave That Thing Alone” creeping into the set. There were some audio problems on the lawn that detracted a little bit. It was a really tinny mix for a lot of the show. So much so that even though it wasn’t very loud, my hearing’s a little dull today. (And I’ve survived Motorhead!) It was so bad that some sounds were clipping out entirely. At one point that even led me to speculate, “Does Neil seem a little bit off to you guys tonight?” Oops. Upon realizing that was impossible, I apologized to the Gods of Rock and continued enjoying the show. 🙂 (The second set and encore were much better mixed and put any of my doubts to rest. I think the venue just didn’t know how to handle a three-piece that has the layers of a nine-piece and it clipped out.)
The guys in the band were in true form. Though I initially doubted Neil Peart (what is WRONG with me?!?) he certainly shut my mouth with his drum solo. And…okay… Drum solos suck. They’re boring. They’re self-indulgent. They rarely display any real talent and sound entirely random and wanky. They’re as long as two or three songs and leave you wondering why they didn’t play a couple more and tell the drummer to suck a sausage. (Mmm…sausage.)
Neil Peart is the ONLY drummer whose solos are worth watching. It seems almost impossible that so much sound can be coming out of one man and that he’s playing so many things without it just sounding like mush. But he does it. His solos, though played on a rhythm instrument, seem to have melody (the musical abstraction, not my newborn niece—she’s cute, but she sucks at drums) and harmony flowing through them. And yes…they’re wanky… But until YOU’RE Neil Peart (looking at YOU Mike Portnoy), you’d best just sit there and watch it happen. You’ll be glad you did.
Alex Lifeson was over on his side of the stage doing what he does, too. A lot of people overlook him. It’s not his fault. He’s in the same band as the greatest living drummer and bass player in the world. The guitarist is bound to be shorted. But Alex is probably among the best guitarists out there, too. I don’t think he’s the best—that’s still David Gilmour—but I’d say top-five. Maybe top three. He doesn’t just go out there and masturbate all over the stage like a lot of the prog-rock guitarists (looking at YOU John Petrucci). He goes out there and “GASP!” serves the song. He stays out of the way, yet produces the backbone of the song. It’s almost a role-reversal between him and Geddy. Until the guitar solos, anyway. They guy can shred with the best of them…but until “Working Man” comes along, he just doesn’t. He’s not about that. He’s about producing beautiful, weaving parts that are at the same time moving and also HUGELY rich in sound and tone. (Seriously…best guitar tone this side of Gilmour. I’ve been trying to rip it off for a couple of years…) So…not much else to say about him…but go Alex!
Then there’s Geddy. Long time hero of mine. I’ve played bass since I was like 13 and as soon as I was able, I started learning how to play Rush songs. (I can still rock “Red Barchetta,” “Fly By Night,” etc, etc from memory even though I haven’t actively practiced them in years.) His voice isn’t as high as it used to be. It’s apparent that they’ve dropped a key or two for the live performances of some songs…but the dude’s 57 and still hits the high notes better than me on my best day. Good on him.
I think everyone there agreed that Geddy’s hip-check to the Kings of Leon was the moment of the night. He said something to the effect of (copied from Dave’s blog, because I’m too lazy to type it myself): “”So this is where that pigeon thing happened, right? Well I just want to let you know…No matter how many pigeons shit on him (gestures towards Alex) we’re not gonna stop.”
Of course, given that they’ve been going for like 35 years yet the geniuses at Rolling Stone magazine have decided (and more than once put in print) that they aren’t “significant” enough to be admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (aka – “The Old Boy’s Club”), Rush is pretty used to getting shit on. Even Steven Colbert called out the HoF on their idiocy on his show a couple of years ago when he had Rush as guests. He asked them the question (paraphrased): “Despite all you’ve done, you have still not been asked to join the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Any chance your next record will be called, “That’s Bullshit?” (The band laughed it off and took the high-road.) Last night’s show was more than proof enough that they deserve to be there. It was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at a Rush show. Haven’t seen the band in about 10 years and somehow they’ve gotten popular in that time, I guess. Used to be you could decide on the day of the show that you were going to go see them and you’d still be able to get a pretty good seat. There were only three of us going and there was nothing under the pavilion available to fit us. We had to settle for the lawn.
Which is really my only complaint about the show—even though I’m really happy that they’re drawing that kind of crowd thee days. The venue STILL sucks. It sucked when it was Riverport (one of the few things Axl Rose and I agree about) and it sucks now. In some ways it sucks WORSE since they no longer even have kids directing traffic in the parking lots. But we did manage to park and make it out of there in not TOO unreasonable a time-frame. Still…”sitting” on the lawn (which we didn’t actually do since the grass was still kind of wet and we forgot to bring anything to sit on) still blows and is just for the kids. My back and knees are both still stiff and shaky. But physicality aside, the show itself was great as per-usual from the guys.
Of course, I bought the requisite t-shirt. I wanted a different one though. They have a cricket (the sport, not the bug) shirt that I really liked. (I’ve decided that, being a fat guy, I’m going to start wearing more athletic-looking stuff. Why? Because it stretches.) The booth we went to didn’t have the size of the cricket shirt that I needed and it was too close to showtime to go to a different one, so I settled for a cool grey one that I like almost as much—and cost less. (In fact, the entire NIGHT cost me less than HALF of the cost of just the t-shirt I got at the Iron Maiden show in Chicago. Seriously…what the f**k, Bruce Dickinson?) So I walked away happy with that.
I wanted to go into greater detail about the two new songs they played (“Caravan” and “BU2B”) but that will have to wait, because this is already ridiculously long. Short version is that I liked “BU2B” better than “Caravan” even though it’s about being an atheist and how stupid Christians are… In fact, expect a full post about that topic next time. Same blog space. Same blog…uhh…template?
Additionally, none of the pictures I took are any good because my phone’s camera sucks. Seriously, the last phone I had didn’t work most of the time, but at least it took good pictures and had a “zoom” function. For a “smart phone” this camera’s pretty stupid. So no pics. Sorry.
Oh…and it’s nice that after 20 years, they’ve finally vindicated me in my pronunciation of “Peart” by means of the show’s closing video, where Neil himself informs Paul Rudd and Jason Segel (yes…those guys showed up in video form…long story…) that it’s pronounced “Peer-t.” So suck on that everybody that’s said (and spelled it) “Pert” over the years! (Just seems to me that if you respect someone, you should at least know how to say and spell his name.)
Okay. Sorry that was so long and probably boring for non fans. You should’ve read Dave’s post. I did warn you.