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I had the chance to see Rush at Jones Beach Theater over the weekend and just thought I’d share some impressions. Rush is my favorite band and this is not the first time I was seeing them, but I thought the show was enough of a stand out to warrant a little writing.
I cannot quibble with the guys performance. For a band that formed in 1968, these guys still seem to be at the top of their game. I can’t imagine they have many decades left to tour, but I also can’t see them quitting anytime soon either. They rocked the place and the crowd loved it.
On a less positive note, and I’ve seen this mentioned on the boards, there seemed to be sound issues. Before the intermission, I noticed instruments drifting in and out, sonically. They would never go mute, but the levels seemed to be moving up and down a lot, which was very distracting. Also, it seemed like Geddy’s keyboard had even more trouble, I think it was during the song Marathon (but I can’t find a Youtube video to confirm so it could have been another one). Anyway, it got so quiet you almost couldn’t hear it and he seemed really pissed and missed a vocal cue by a few bars, almost as if he was trying to make his crew notice his displeasure. Neil and Alex just kept playing, and I assume, waiting for him to start singing again, which he eventually did.
Later, Alex completely missed one of his vocal cues in the song Subdivisions. You could tell he was embarrassed but totally laughed it off with the guitar techs.
After intermission, they seemed to have fixed whatever sound problems had plagued the first half of the show, and there were no more sound problems. It was still a little too noisy to my liking, but fairly good. Of note was how strong the sub bass signal was, almost like being in a dance club with a really good system. Every bass drum hit or bass guitar pluck hit you squarely in the gut.
There were two major highlights in the show for me. One was the performance of The Camera Eye in its entirety. Since they were playing the entire Moving Pictures album, I knew this would be in the set list and that was a major motivation for me to attend the show. If you are not familiar with this song, it’s very New York and London centric, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been walking around the city when it comes up on the old iPod and I get chills. Anyway, Saturday night, Geddy seemed to put extra emphasis on the words New York and Manhattan and the crowd ate it up. I just settled in for the ride, and was a bit beside myself that they were really playing it after all this time.
The second highlight was the inclusion of La Villa Strangiato in the encore. Again, for those unfamiliar with Rush tunes, it is a super complicated song which they couldn’t even record in the studio the first time without first breaking it into three different takes. It was such a momentous recording, it cause the band to change their whole direction with the following album and lead to the development of the band I like so much. It’s also one of those songs I never expected to hear live, so it was a real treat to see them bring it back.
Neil’s drum solo was great. I didn’t see the Snakes and Arrows tour, so I don’t know if this version is new for the Time Machine tour, or if it’s what he played last time, but it was very different from any of the solos I’ve heard him do before, like he’s evolved it again into a new direction. Same quality as ever, but with a new composition.
As to the crowd, everyone around me was very well behaved. Others have noted the young kid in the second row, and I noticed him too, air drumming in unison with all the adults around him. One can’t imagine he’s had the time in his short life to get so familiar with these old tunes, but clearly he has. I’d love to know his story, but imagine one or both of his parents must be huge fans. Like me, lol.
It was a great show. I didn’t even mention the filmic bits that tied the whole time machine theme together, or the walk-on performances of the rubber chicken man or the Beir Madchen who were ‘moving pitchers’ of beer, or the updated video graphics used throughout the show, because that’s all just icing on the cake. The band played great, reaching deep in their catalog at the same time playing their latest releases and everyone seemed to have a blast, and I was one of them.