Sunday, July 25, 2010

Time Doesn't Stand Still

Rush came to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC)--a scant mile from my house--Friday night; fortunately, the monsoon-like rains stopped about an hour prior to show time. They are doing construction on the Geyser Road bridge so I was unable to walk to SPAC and was stuck driving. Grr.

Anyway, the tour is dubbed the "Time Machine" tour, and is designed to be a stroll through the Rush ages (kind of like any Rush concert, really), with particular emphasis on the 1980s.

The stage set was designed with a "steampunk" theme. Steampunk, if you are not a regular visitor of Boing Boing, is a sub-genre of science-fiction that imagines the future as it was envisioned in the past, typically in the Victorian era (i.e., when steam power was prevalent); think of H.G. Wells, or the 1960 movie version of The Time Machine (but not the wretched 2002 remake which, coincidentally, was partially filmed in the Saratoga Spa State Park), Jules Verne, or even the great 1960s TV series The Wild Wild West. Basically, this meant lots of large vats, tubes and pipes, and occasional billows of steam. Neil Peart's drum kit, built especially for this tour, was absolutely beautiful, even if it wasn't as sprawling as it usually is. (His epic drum solo also had a kind of brooding sci-fi feel to it.) Occasionally, a stage hand would push a grocery cart on stage and toss a bunch of rubber chickens into a large cistern to the Geddy side of the drum riser. Okay. (It bears mentioning that amongst the Rush faithful, when describing where seats are, they are not stage left or stage right, but rather on the "Alex side [left] or Geddy side [right].)

As for the performance, it was the usual tour de force. They resurrected a few obscure tracks from the 80s that work better live than on record (I'm thinking anything from Power Windows or Hold Your Fire, which are my least favorite of their 18 studio albums. Oh, and after the intermission, they performed Moving Pictures, one of the greatest albums ever recorded, in its entirety. Paradise, really.

They also previewed two new tracks from their forthcoming Clockwork Angels album, "BU2B" (aka "Brought Up to Believe") and "Caravan." The record is apparently a science-fiction concept album; as Neil Peart wrote in the tour program, "these days an 'album' is an abstraction dearer to artists than audiences," which is why they are breaking with the timeworn pattern of recording an album and then touring behind it. I liked the new songs (they are available on iTunes), even if they still seem a little embryonic; they got mixed reviews from the folks I was hanging out with before the show (a friend of a friend is a moderator on and had organized a meet-up of regulars from the forum who, it bears mentioning, had not even been born when I went to my first Rush concert!*)

The band changed the arrangements of a few songs; "Closer to the Heart," tends to be the more protean of their songs, and "Working Man," dating from the pre-Neil Peart era, opened with a kind of reggae arrangement; it was more like "Working Mon." The opening bit of "La Villa Strangiato" sounded almost polka-like!

Unfortunately, I had waited too long to buy tickets, so I had really crappy seats and could not see any of the rear-screen projections, which were apparently very funny. I guess I'll have to wait for the DVD. I did manage to catch the one thart ended the show which went on wa-a-a-a-y too long.

All I can say is that I am glad these guys are still around. The Saratogian review is here. I also heartily recommend the recent Rush documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage.

The complete set list was:

Spirit of Radio (Permanent Waves, 1980)
Time Stand Still (Hold Your Fire, 1987)
Presto (Presto, 1989)
Stick It Out (Counterparts, 1993)
Working Them Angels (Snakes and Arrows, 2007)
Leave That Thing Alone (Counterparts, 1993)
Faithless (Snakes and Arrows, 2007)
BU2B (new--Clockwork Angels, 2011[?])
Free Will (Permanent Waves, 1980)
Marathon (Power Windows, 1985)
Subdivisions (Signals, 1982)


Moving Pictures (1981)
Tom Sawyer
Red Barchetta
The Camera Eye
Witch Hunt
Vital Signs
Caravan (new--Clockwork Angels, 2011[?])
Drum solo
Hope (Alex Lifeson acoustic guitar solo; Snakes and Arrows, 2007)
Closer to the Heart (A Farewell to Kings, 1977)
Overture/Temples of Syrinx (2112, 1976)
Far Cry (Snakes and Arrows, 2007)


La Villa Strangiato (Hemispheres, 1978)
Working Man (Rush, 1974)

I wonder if they'll tour in 2012 for the "100-year preanniversary" and play 2112 in its entirety...

*1982, for those playing along at home


曹彥均曹彥均 said...


Ticketwood said...

It will be awesome to see RUSH perform MOVING PICTURES in it’s entirety. I was able to see Rush 3 times on the original Moving Pictures tour, Max Webster opened for them in Louisville Ky, It was so awesome!! Thanks for offering me discounted Rush Tickets . They were using a movie screen behind them that projected really cool images during the show. They were so far ahead of everyone else at the time… and still are.