Though I've been basically MIA this summer from 'round here, I just had to sing the particular praises of this particular show, one that was scheduled just a week in advance of attending it 'cause I've tried (to little avail, LOL!) to reduce the number of shows seen and paid for and these guys were going to be one of the (few, LOL!) bands that I had decided on not to spend any monies on this year after seeing them multiple times on every single tour since Power Windows '86. But thanks to my bud Daniel and his "in"@PNC, Jerrelle, for scoring us and two other friends comped 20th row tickets plus beverage tickets (which I used for much needed water...:). So that pretty much took care of the "cost" factor, all we had to do was to get there in time (no gimme on the Friday of Labor Day weekend!) and after a stop to pick a friend up in a town next to the venue and a brief stop to pick up some food, we did arrive 'bout an hour before showtime to allow us to, ummmmm, "prep" for the show...;)...and boy did I, knocking back quite a few stiff ones besides the many obligatory visits with the one and only Uncle Bob before, during and after the show.
As advertised, this was a tour to promote to perform the Moving Pictures album form cover to cover but figuring I wasn't going to attend this year's tour, I did look at the setlist from the beginning of the tour and immediately felt that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach after I had finished perusing it. Not only were they going to perform The Camera Eye for the 1st time in 27 years (last performed on the '82-'83 Signals tour), they were going to bust out a bevy of songs in the 1st set either never ever performed live (the title track from the late-'89 album Presto and Faithless, a personal favorite from their last studio album released in 1987, Snakes and Arrows) as well as more personal favorites such as Stick It Up (last performed 13 years ago on the Test For Echo tour), Time Stand Still (last performed 16 years ago on the Counterparts tour) and Marathon (last performed 20 years ago on the Presto tour). Forget 'bout that sinking feeling I spoke about earlier, what I really wanted to do was either puke and/or destroy my laptop (either one which I didn't do, thankfully, LOL!). But despite their performing bascially a dream-like 1st set I stuck to my guns to the very end, didn't purchase a ticket and was rewarded for my patience. Thank the Good Lord, it REALLY REALLY REALLY would have hurt if I had not gotten to witness it...:D
This show ROCKED, opening musically (many videos before and during the two sets, they were all great as usual) with the Spirit of Radio. Time Stand Still followed then Presto. Everything was right so far, excellent seats, excellent sounds, excellent friends to hang with and excellent neighbors who were INTO what was being presented to us for our audio and visual pleasure. Those of you who have seen them before know what I mean, they are as multi-media as virtually any band gets, mixing the videos in seamlessly with the songs.
Stick It Out was next and seemed a little grungier than usual, Alex coaxing his guitar while Neal attacked the skins and Geddy handled the double-duty of singing as well as he ever has (how the hell does he do it, LOL?!?!?) while reminding us why he is one of the premier Bass players to ever grace both vinyl (yeah, I'm old school!) and stage. Workin' Them Angels (another personal fave) from S&A followed then the instrumental Leave That Thing Alone! off the Counterparts gave Geddy a vocal cords rest.
Another 1st timer, Faithless, was next and thrilled me to the hilt followed by a brand new song, BU2B, which at the time sounded pretty good for a modern-day Rush song. They then concluded with the 1-2-3 punch of Freewill followed by Marathon and ending with Subdivisions. Easily one of the most satisfying 1st sets ever to my ears, both setlist and execution-wise. All three plus the crew were on top of their game and I was one very exhausted but extremely happy fan-boy...:D
After 'bout a twenty minute intermission they roared back onto the stage with the Moving Pictures album. Though I had already gotten what I had walked for, I was intrigued as to how the audience would react to the presentation that most of them probably walked in for and I believe I can say that no one that I saw as far as I could see was disappointed in any way, shape or form with the appx. 50 minutes that was the album. Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, YYZ and Limelight, how could they go wrong, LOL, a perfect album side if there is such a thing though I've heard all four so much either live or on the radio that I didn't pay a heck of a lot of attention to them, taking the opportunity while they were playing the "hits" to watch the audience and the visuals being presented on the big screens.
But that all changed once they got to the 2nd side of the album, starting with the song that many (but not I, admittedly) have been clamoring for: The Camera Eye. Never one of my faves but I gotta say, they won me over on this night with it. Flawless. And the crowd eat it up for all that it was worth and apparently it was worth a LOT to many among the assembled masses, the roar of the crowd said it all...;)
That and the rest of MP were easily the highlight of the 2nd set. Witch Hunt, one of my all-time faves, again thrilled me and both it and Vital Signs were monsterous in their respective presentations.
The 2nd of the two new songs, Caravan, was next up employing a heavier sound than the previous new song but still very valid as a modern-day Rush song. Then followed Neal's Drum Solo and I will tell you that out of all the ones that I've witnessed it was the most different from any previous tour and it was my favorite, something I don't always say 'bout drum solos, LOL!
Next was a re-worked Closer To The Heart followed by the 2112 Overture/Temple of Syrinx, of course not the full 2112 but it seem to thrill the fans nevertheless though personally I'm not a fan of doing less-than-full-versions of songs. Far Cry off S&A ended the show but though I'm a fan of the song I felt this was the only mis-step of the show as it felt like it ended with a thud and not with the usual flourish that they are known to end shows with.
But that was quickly corrected with the encore and the 1-2 old school punch of La Villa Strangiato into a VERY rocked out version of Working Man. All in all, a legitimate three very full hours of music was presented and the band was as good as I've ever seen/heard them ever and, execution-wise, couldn't possibly have asked for any more than what they gave, they left it all on the stage and this fan-boy couldn't have been happier that at the 11th hour I was given a opportunity to witness the majesty and glory that is Rush live and in your face...:)