Finally getting a chance to sit down and write some thoughts about seeing Rush on the R40 tour this past weekend in Denver. I missed the band due to my travel and didn’t want to let this tour pass without catching them. I heard nothing but great things about the set and the production and all the cool old stuff they were playing. If this is the last Rush tour as a lifelong fan I had to see it! So I flew to Denver for the sole purpose of seeing a band I grew up with on what appears to be a well deserved victory lap tour celebrating 40 years of amazing music. It’s important to note that like most fans of any band I certainly would not say I love every era of Rush. But I have massive respect for all of it and how they did things on their own terms and essentially built one of the biggest cult bands in music history. A cult that somehow FINALLY got the mainstream recognition in recent years with the Rolling Stone cover, HOF, etc. But if you are a true Rush fan these things are nice, but really we knew what everyone else is just discovering all along; Rush rules! And the reasons why they rule are many. Who else keeps the same band together 41 years? Who else makes music that fans embrace fully, played brilliantly, and never compromised for radio. What other trio can generate that much music, all real and extremely honest? Few bands have the connection to their fans like Rush. Why? Because they are three amazing musicians who are also real relatable people. Never putting themselves above the fans and never resorting to the trends of the business that make fans feel like they are being fleeced. Rush isn’t playing the Farewell Tour card. Why? Because its just not a Rush thing to do, and they don’t know what they are going to do next. And they are pretty much one of the most honest and transparent bands out there at their level. They also have an amazing sense of humor, which if you follow closely (just watch any of the recent concert videos!) resonates throughout. It is beyond special what these guys have been able to achieve. How many headliners do you go see where there are 2 openers and the main band does 65 minutes? Rush has no opener, still packs an arena, and plays 3 hours! If this is the final tour I have never seen a band go out as strong.

Rush are performing a set which I’m sure you have heard by now goes backward in time. Now that sounds cool but it has to be seen to be believed. When I say goes backwards I mean EVERYTHING goes backwards! The set changes after each era while the band is playing to reflect what the stage looked like at that time. Right down to the instruments, amps, amp heads, lighting. It is an amazing work of production art. By the time it ends with encores from the first albums the set resembles a high school gym with the amps on chairs. The sound and lighting are perfect. The playing as perfect as you would imagine from Rush. No need to state the brilliance of Neil, that’s well documented and obvious. Alex on the other hand may be one of musics most underrated players. He is a master that often gets overlooked I feel in the discussion of all time greats. But the real revelation for me was Geddy. He will be the first to tell you in recent years singing some of the high pitched stuff has been a struggle. But what I saw Saturday in Denver was stunning. In a show that turns back the clock, Geddy appeared to turn his own clock back 30 years! And I’m not talking about some freaky plastic surgery! He is in amazing shape and bouncing around the stage like a man half his age during a 3 hour set. But what really stunned me was his voice. I have not heard him sing this well live in decades. Even the ultra high “Lakeside Park” sung perfect in it’s original key. And that song is 41 years old! The more recent “Headlong Flight” featured vocal acrobatics I couldn’t believe I was hearing. It was that good and put the entire thing way over the top. The songs touched on every era. For me highlights were “Headlong Flight”, “Far Cry”, “Animate”, “Distant Early Warning”, “Xanadu”, “Natural Science”, “Jacobs Ladder”, “Cygnus”, and a cool arrangement of “2112”, and pretty much everything else earlier. The video segments were hysterical as always and very clever. My favorite was the very end where the band is shown trying to get into it’s dressing room after the show but it’s occupied by the characters from the covers of their albums, including the puppet from the Farewell To Kings album who opens the door. If you catch a show do NOT leave early and watch this. It is great classic Rush!

I had the very special opportunity to watch the band soundcheck and also hung with Geddy and Alex (Neil does his usual run out right when the show ends) after the show. Geddy told me changes to his diet has really helped his voice as well as 36 hours of rest (as in not talking at all) before show days. It shows big time! I also interviewed Alex for about 20 minutes before the show. I think you guys will enjoy this and Alex does address the potential future of the band. This will premiere in my syndicated FM show this weekend (starting on Q104.3 NYC and WAAF Boston 11PM ET this Friday, both stations stream) and on all affiliates over the weekend. The complete audio will then be in my podcast posting 7/23, free to all as usual on Itunes or at www.podcastone.com . I’ve been lucky to have done lots of stuff with Rush over the last 20 years. I’ve interviewed all of them many times even before That Metal Show for VH1 Classic, including an hour once with Neil. Geddy has been on TMS twice, Alex once. Countless radio stuff too. Always the nicest most regular people you could meet. I can’t tell you how many bands we all love that don’t actually like each other. We all hear of the politics, ego, in fighting, money and credit battles, battles over name ownership, merch. It is everywhere and has become the norm. None of this you ever hear about Rush ever. Another reason why Rush rules. I want to stress that what I am writing would be the same exact review I would write if I paid for a ticket and sat in the rafters. Anyone who follows my history knows I don’t ever pull punches. Hell I heard all about it from the Rush faithful when I said I didn’t like the 80’s synth period (which Alex agreed with by the way haha, watch the doc!). I don’t know if this is the last tour, Rush doesn’t really know yet. But as you will hear in the Alex interview there are still more projects and maybe shows to come. But do yourself a favor, see this show at all costs if you were ever a fan. I flew almost halfway across the country to catch it and I am so happy I did! Hell I’m almost considering a quick trip to Vegas for one more it was so good. And if it is the end I have never seen a band go out in better form, with a cooler show, and with the amazing level of class and dignity that has been a hallmark of their entire career. Thank you Geddy, Alex and Neil and congratulations on 40 amazing years and counting. Simply stated Rush rules!

PS: Special thanks to Meg, Andy, Donovan and all at SRO as well for the hospitality.


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  • S M on

    Such a great show/tour, looking forward to hearing what Alex has to say and wrote my own little story if you’re up for a read http://ztpmag.com/rush

  • john tison on

    It seems like def leppard have that kind of brotherhood too, although I use to think the same thing about queensryche before it all blew up!

  • Richard Nelson on

    Haven’t seen Lakeside Park on Youtube done in Denver yet, but where I have heard it elsewhere in 2015 made me cringe. From what I have heard, it seems like a big stretch to say he hasn’t sung better in decades. I respect your opinion but have to put in context your review having the kind of relationship you do with the band. Don’t mean to damper the celebratory lap Rush are on as you put it, but you are exaggerating. I did listen to Tom Sawyer in Denver and isn’t even attempting to hit the high notes originally done on the studio album – not that I would expect him to necessarily, but to say he hasn’t sung better in decades, c’mon…..I even cringed many times on this song. I admire Geddy and any musician wanting to remain performing and go out on top, but his voice isn’t “stunning” me in 2015. All, listen for yourself….

    • Eddie on

      Geddy has struggled a lot in the last 20 years in my opinion. Is his voice exact to the studio songs? No. Is it WAY better than it’s been in a very long time? Yes. As far as my relationship with the band and it tainting my review I explain that in what I wrote. But I guess that just won’t work for some which is fine..

    • Richard Nelson on

      Sorry I missed the bit about you addressing your relationship with Rush else I wouldn’t have mentioned it so my fault for not reading your blog in its entirety. Glad though that you enjoyed the show so much. Certainly, I was spoiled by seeing the Hemispheres tour in Jan ’79 in Boston. I haven’t seen them live since then. He just seems to be struggling to be what he once was and it is a little harder to enjoy in hearing that struggle – to my ears anyway. Thanks for the reply and post.

    • Robert Garner on

      Dude, you havnt seen Rush since Hemispheres 1979? Congrats thats before my time,….but you are really missing out. I cant take your Geddys struggling comments seriously if you havnt seen them live in… 36 years?!?!?!?!? HELLO??? Geddys Not struggling at all, he’s kicking ass and taking names.

      Im at 8-10 shows over the last few tours, I cant get enough!!! they simply get better every time. This tour is proof!!!

  • Brian Schultz on

    I saw them in Chicago Eddie and I couldn’t agree more. The setlist was incredible and it’s beyond amazing how good they sounded. I was totally blown away.

  • MetalMania on

    Eddie, you’ve pretty much echoed all of my feelings about Rush, and this tour’s show in particular, except for the personal parts as I’ve never had the good fortune to meet any of them. I keep having to tell people when I’ve said that they (especially Geddy!) still really do sound THAT good, that it’s not through rose colored glasses because they’re my favorite band, they really are still performing at or close to their peak. Also, it’s great to see you mention some of their more recent material as highlights in your review. So often with bands with this kind of longevity, a lot of “fans” ignore the new material and all they want are the classics (I have friends who love Rush but haven’t listened to anything newer than “Counterparts”). I understand that, especially when the “old stuff” is what the fan base is founded on, but with Rush I think their most recent material is some of the strongest they’ve done in many years. I mean, my God – “Headlong Flight” flat out rocks – it has to be one of the heaviest songs in their entire catalog! There are other songs on “Clockwork Angels” that are cranked up to 10 as well. These guys aren’t settling into rocking chairs as they age! Even the keyboard years, though ultimately not my favorite Rush era, still have a bunch of really great songs that I consider indispensable to their legacy. I never understood criticism saying their music is bland and unemotional. I’ve always found a level of depth both musically and lyrically in Rush beyond typical rock fare, maybe it’s not for everyone but thank goodness they’ve never been just another “Hey let’s party!” mainstream rock band. There’s nothing wrong with kicking butt intelligently.

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