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.


21 Responses

  1. eddie,i caught the show in ny, 16 row.geddy sounds great.lakeside park was awesome.distant early warning was song along to by the crowd on the floor,was so f n cool,to hear fans singing along to that track.the electronic rush is what got me really into rush.love power windows and grace under pressure,red sector a.yes alex lifeson is underateted,he simply is awesome.mr. peart is the best,geddy is multi talented,bass,sings,keyboards,you can never say anything bad about a guy who does 3 things at once.3 hour show,not 3 hour just music,complete show,video,pyro n all that great music,red barchetta was my favorite.i am so glad they went out on TOP.geddyyz.good job eddie

  2. So this was my FIRST Rush concert. Although I fell in love with the band in high school, I must admit as I’ve gotten older (50 now!) and being a female my taste in music has led me to other genres and I hadn’t really followed them much since the early/mid 80’s. My husband, a huge fan, has seen them 10x now & felt I must experience them at least once live. I AM so GLAD I waited till I was 50 and went to see them for this tour! If I could have written my own review, it would have said all the same things you have said, Eddie! It was undeniably the most professionally, well done show I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen my fair share of concerts since my teenage years. I was blown away and would have paid well over the 100$ we paid to see them! If I could see them again, I’d pay the $, without thinking twice! Rush has earned my respect and admiration as a first class band. The guys are just down right good people! Even if you are just a fair weather fan, this is a tour you shouldn’t miss. I am so glad I got to see them. At 50 I felt like a kid back in high school again, because the show was so good, I couldn’t help but yell & scream and was on my feet the entire time! It was a show that went above and beyond my wildest expectations! I love Rush more than ever now!

  3. I’m looking forward to seeing Rush. I’m flying to Phoenix on July 27 just to see them, then flying back home the next day. My only concern is how great a view I’ll get to see of them. Tickets were very limited at the time I bought mine, but I’m in the upper deck at the US Airways Center. I’ve never been in that arena, so I have no idea what I’m in for come the night of the show.

  4. I saw them in NJ and was blown away so much that I had to see them again at MSG. Rush was a huge influence on me (I’m a full-time musician/bass player) and I guess I didn’t want to regret not seeing them if this is their last run. They are playing as strong as ever! It’s always going to be the vocals that are the tough part on a band with a history as long as theirs, but Geddy is sounding strong. I mean, he can still do a huge portion of their catalog justice without lowering the keys, etc. The first Rush show I ever saw was on the Presto tour. I’ve seen them a bunch of times since then and they’re always killer. This might have been the best of the 10+ times I’ve seen them over the years. No hyperbole.

  5. I agree that Geddy’s voice was in the best shape it’s been in a long time. The band sounded incredible, the stage sets were very cool, the crowd was going nuts, my throat hurt from singing along to damn near every song, my arms and shoulders hurt from air-drumming. It’s one of the best concerts I’ve seen in years, probably one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. The set just got more classic as the night went on. The second set and encore were incredible! If this is it for them touring-wise, then what a great way to end it! I saw that concert at the end of May, I’ve been to three big concerts since that concert but Rush is still what I think about the most. It was special.

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