There’s a brief hold up to the start of tonight’s show, the second of Rush’s short UK tour. Apparently the delay has been caused by a fox loose in the building – who knew they had such good taste in music?
In fact there are only two types of people (or animals) in this world.
1: Those who really love Rush
2: Everyone else.
Rush are the marmite of Rock and it’s only been really fairly recently (after 40+ million album sales and over 40 years together) that they’ve been getting anywhere near the recognition they deserve from the press and media. The fans however have always been loyal and selling out the O2 at £85+ per ticket is only further proof of their on-going longevity.
After a typical (slightly weird) Rush intro video the band arrive onstage and start fittingly with fan-favouite ‘Subdivisions’, it sounds remarkably fresh for a song written over 30 years ago. Apart from the three musicians the stage is fairly sparse, there is popcorn machine popping away and a big brain in a jar.
Geddy Lee rotates between bass and keyboard duties while singing, nailing every note, every flange, every modulation. Drummer Neil Peart is deep in concentration, some people would say he looks grumpy, but there is the occasional between band smile that shows he is loving every second.
Guitarist, Alex Lifeson seems as equally pleased to be here, no ego, his guitar is bang on the money. It always amazes me how much noise just three people can make, they must have been a nightmare when they were kids! My only gripe tonight is that the sound in the O2 is a little muddy and some of the intricacies of Rush’s wall of music are lost in the upper reaches of the high ceiling. This is more noticeable some of the tracks I am less familiar with, as my brain can fill in the blanks for the others.
Part one finishes with a drum solo from Neil and after the interval (Rush, I think are the only band in the world to support themselves) are joined by ‘The Clockwork Angels String Ensemble’ a rock n’ roll string quartet. Much of ‘Clockwork Angels’ is performed and the classical musicians perform enthusiastically, adding yet another dimension to the tapestry of sound even if it is a tad low in the mix.
The intensity of the light show and steam-punk backdrop videos are ramped up too, we even have fireworks and flames, I can feel the heat from where I am, the cellist must have a very hot back.
You’d think at their age they would be writing less intense music, or at least stuff that was less challenging to play, but Rush seem to enjoy pushing themselves further musically and this is probably why they are so respected by other musicians, professional or otherwise.
They close with an unbelievably good version of THE classic ‘Spirit of Radio’, the sound of Rush fans spontaneously combusting across the venue is clearly audible. They come back again to play ‘Tom Sawyer‘ followed by the three parts of the 2112 story: Overture, The Temples of Syrinx and the Grand Finale. Twenty eight songs played. Job done. Thank you London and goodnight.
Another strange video plays, the lights go up and the throngs vacate fuzzy eared and happy. This tour started last September and will finish this August, not bad for three guys aged 60, 59 and 59 years old respectively. You just wonder what they will be like when they get the hang of it.
All photos by Mark (@theflob) Ireland.