As you can see by the stellar image quality from my Motorola Q, last night I stepped back into my high school days and did something that I've only done on a pair of occasions now since I told myself in 1993 that I wouldn't ever do again: I went to a rock concert.
Strike that. This was no ordinary rock concert. This was my second go-round (the only band I've ever spent concert ticket money on twice) for Rush. On the ride over, my three concert-mates (and neighbors) and I were trying to do the math as to the age of Geddy, Alex and Neil. Their first album was released in 1974. If they were 17-18, that puts them in AARP range now. Of course, they're Canadian, so maybe it's CAARP, but you get the picture. Let me just state this for the record: THEY STILL ROCK.
Watching these "old" men run around on stage, play their music (my buddy Jake says each has a doctorate in music), work the crowd, inject some emotion and basically blow the roof off the arena was pretty cool. This was also the first go-round for me seeing parents bringing their kids to a concert that wasn't sponsored by the Wiggles or Nickelodeon. Nate told me today that he wanted to go "to the concert next time." Well, if the energy Rush displayed last night was any indication, he may be taking his kids.
They started off the set with Limelight, and ended it with YYZ (I think...they threw in A Passage to Bangkok somewhere at the end). They played a bunch of stuff off Snakes and Arrows, their latest studio album, and then gave the mass of humanity what they wanted with Tom Sawyer, Spirit of Radio, a nice long Neil Peart drum exhibition (anyone who says he's not the best drummer on the planet is obviously smoking some sort of illegal substance and should be beaten about the cranium), the Trees, Subdivisions and many other darn good songs.
Biggest disappointment: NO songs off Power Windows. Only one off of Grace Under Pressure (although it was "Between the Wheels" which is excellent). Only one off of Hold Your Fire...and in my opinion, not the best one (but again, a good choice with "Mission".)
Some cool things: As they headed off for an intermission, Geddy says, "since we are no longer "sprrrrring chickens" we need to take a short break." Frankly, I couldn't stand for the nearly three-hour set anyway, and needed a "sprrrrring chicken" break, too. In between sets, they would run this little video story with the bandmembers as the actors. The opening sequence had Alex in bed dreaming of snakes, awakening in a sweat. He leans back and says "honey, I had a dream about snakes. Why am I dreaming about snakes? Honey?" Neil Peart emerges from the other side of the bed--they look at each other and scream. Then they run a bit about Tom Sawyer with the South Park cartoon. Cartman has long Geddy hair and sings, "Monday warrior, today's Tom Sawyer, he floated down a river with a black guy." Then he says "that's what the book says, I read it...and I'm Geddy Lee, I'll sing whatever lyrics I want." It's that kind of stuff that helps you realize that this trio gets it. They're not self-righteous egoists. They're musicians. I really liked Alex's acoustic/electric solo--and during Neil's extended drum work, the pictures in back paid homage to Buddy Rich.
You know what the coolest thing about them is? They play music. Sure they let their opinions come out in that music, but it's not in-your-face politics, just make-you-pause stuff. And they didn't cuss all night. In fact, I've never heard a cuss word in ANY of their songs. No sex. No swearing. Just good music played by three guys who know their way around their instruments. If I could pair them with Kepa Junkera on some sort of something, I'd be in music nirvana.
I'd go see them again. Tonight. If I could.