Words & Images by: Joe Roman
Rush :: 04.08.11 :: Giant Center Arena :: Hershey, PA
Rush played to a nearly sold out Giant Center Arena (home of the Hershey Bears). Rush is currently playing the second leg of the Time Machine Tour, which features the album Moving Pictures in its entirety (see the JamBase review of the first leg here). As the tour's name implies, Rush is playing music from every generation during the shows, pleasing fans new and old. For the Hershey show, it rained for nearly 24-hours straight, which cancelled many of the tailgating plans and left a mess of traffic out on the roads just before show time, but neither the weather nor the roads deterred the hordes of Rush fans from having a great time.
|Geddy Lee by Joe Roman|
In this economy, fans want more for their money, and you cannot ask for much more from Rush. This was an "evening with" show that lasted over three hours (including set breaks), featured 26 songs, and included one of the most impressive stage setups on any current tour. At any price, the fans are getting what they pay for on this tour.
As with every Rush show, there is always a bit of quirkiness and built-in humor. In between sets a mockumentary was shown on the big screen that documented the history of a polka band named "Rash," which played polka versions of Rush songs. When the darkness lifted, the band took the stage and Geddy Lee appeared in a mock "Rash" concert t-shirt.
On previous tours the stage sets have included laundry machines and chicken rotisseries. This tour turned the stage into a time machine and also featured a sausage maker that actually put out links. A gorilla periodically refilled the faux-sausage maker with rubber chickens. While there is a whimsical side to Rush's stage setup, the production quality was impressive.
The stage lighting was one of the best (small/medium-sized arena) setups I have seen in the industry. The center overhead lighting rig was a complex claw-like structure that mechanically moved around like fingers to accent songs visually. They used a seemingly endless supply of cameras onstage for projecting on the large screen behind the band, enabling the audience get to view nearly every angle possible during Neil Peart's drum solo. The show also included pyrotechnics that threw fire into the air, explosive blasts during strategic parts of songs, and pressurized steam that rose from the time machines onstage. This tour’s impressive production can't be matched by many bands today.
The first set was bookended by the classic Rush hits “The Spirit of The Radio” and “Subdivisions,” but songs like the instrumental "Leave That Thing Alone" from Rush's 1993 album Counterparts are what really sets this band apart from the herd. Peart's driving beats, Geddy Lee’s thumping bass, and the jangly, anthemic guitar of Alex Lifeson make that song a contemporary classic for them. After "Leave That Thing Alone," Lee noted that the song always gets them loose and he was ready to rock.
|Alex Lifeson by Joe Roman|
Rush is currently working on their 19th studio album, tentatively named Clockwork Angels, and played the songs "Caravan" (second set) and "BU2B" (first set) from it.
During the intermission, a counter, much like you see on a gas pump, was on the screen scrolling through the years of Rush, eventually stopping on 1981. For a moment, fans were stuck in a time machine vacuum in the year 1981, the year that Moving Pictures was released.
The first seven songs of the second set were the album Moving Pictures played in order. While some of the songs on the album like “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” have been Rush setlist staples for years, songs like "The Camera Eye" have rarely been included in setlists. From the first notes of "The Camera Eye" until the end, fans were at their peak excitement - until “Parts I and II” of 2112 were played later. Fans all around were perfecting their air guitar and air drumming. Lifeson played an inspiring solo intro to "Closer To The Heart" on a 12-string guitar before breaking into the iconic opening acoustic riff.
The encore was a monster compiled of “La Villa Strangiato” and “Working Man.” The latter featured a reggae intro and a portion of “Cygnus X-1” in the outro.
The production of the show was incredible if not breathtaking, and the song selections were particularly strong. The tour is currently scheduled to continue through July 2, 2011, giving fans ample time to catch a ride on this Time Machine.
First Set: The Spirit of Radio, Time Stand Still, Presto, Stick It Out, Workin' Them Angels, Leave That Thing Alone, Faithless, BU2B, Freewill, Marathon, Subdivisions
Second Set: Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, YYZ, Limelight, The Camera Eye, Witch Hunt, Vital Signs, Caravan, Drum Solo, (Acoustic 12-string guitar solo intro) Closer To The Heart, 2112 Part I: Overture, 2112 Part II: The Temples Of Syrinx, Far Cry
Encore: La Villa Strangiato, (Reggae intro) Working Man (Cygnus X-1 outro)
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