RUSH : : 30 YEARS AND STILL STRONG

Rush :: 07.29.04 :: Sound Advice Amphitheater :: West Palm Beach, FL

Rush blew into West Palm Beach's Sound Advice Amphitheatre on Thursday July 29 to celebrate their 30th anniversary as well as Geddy Lee's 50th birthday, and like every Rush show this reviewer has seen for the past 15 years, they did not disappoint. Changing things around slightly, the band started the night off with an instrumental medley, usually found at the end of the second set or in the encore. Featuring tried and true Rush workhorses like "Anthem" and "Finding My Way," this medley also featured classic takes on "Passage to Bangkok" and instrumental portions of "Cygnus X-1."


Peart and Lee :: 7.29 :: Florida
After 30 years, Rush obviously knows how to get the train rolling, and were soon embarking on a rocking version of "Spirit of the Radio," although it took singer Geddy Lee a few versus before he began to find his voice, one of the most unique and recognizable in all of rock history. The first set leaned heavily towards mid-80s/early 90s era Rush, heavy on the synth, with versions of "Force 10," "Subdivisions," and "Roll the Bones" standing out.

One of the things that has made Rush one of the most well respected of the "prog rock" bands is their ability to change the pace of their music at the drop of a hat. "YYZ," from the Moving Pictures album, is a perfect example. A blistering version on this steamy South Florida summer night found bassist Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart exploring the stop/go rhythmic structure of the song with perfect timing.


Lifeson and Lee :: 7.29 :: Florida
Rush closed out the first set with two vastly different songs that represented two of the early stages of their career. "The Trees," from 1978's Hemispheres, is one of those songs that would become a rite of passage for every teenage Dungeons and Dragons geek who ever spent time in Middle Earth pitting trolls against wizards. The song holds up well in the current environment we live in today, a tale of class struggle between the haves and the have-nots. A rocking version of the Who's "The Seeker" from Rush's latest release, a collection of '60s cover tunes titled "Feedback," harkened back to the early blues-based rock beginnings of the band.

Rush came back for the second set with their most well known song "Tom Sawyer," and then played another series of songs from their synth-heavy days, including the ultra-rare "Between the Wheels," of which Geddy Lee noted "There are songs you all want to hear, and their are songs we want to play, and sometimes there are songs that fall through the cracks. This is one of those."


Neil Peart :: 7.29 :: Florida
Neil Peart, in this reviewer's opinion, is definitely one of the most talented men ever to sit down at a monster drum kit, a kit that actually revolves around him as he plays. His drum solo for the next eight or nine minutes showed why. Like a master carpenter, Peart assembles each tour's drum solo from pieces of solos past. Any lifelong Rush fan will tell you the shit's about to go down once the cowbell starts ringing. In unison, every air drummer in attendance was whacking away at the space around them, trying to keep time with the steel-faced Peart as he hit every single piece of equipment that surrounded him. God forbid you should be playing air drums and the steroid abuser in front of you chooses to sit throughout the entire show. I can't be held responsible for what Neil Peart makes me do.

The Rush faithful in attendance, knowing it was Geddy Lee's birthday, serenaded him with a very nice "Happy Birthday." Alex and Geddy reciprocated with a short two-song acoustic set, allowing Peart to regain some energy for what would prove to be highlight of the show.


Rush :: 7.29 :: Florida
A four-song attack featuring some of Rush's most powerful music from the 1970s closed out the second set, starting with what many fans consider to be the ultimate Rush tune, "2112," Neal Peart's futuristic take on a world without music. While the band's 2000 tour featured the entire 22-minute "2112" opus as a centerpiece, only a few parts were played tonight--the instrumental "Overture" followed by "The Temples of Syrinx," before concluding with the "Grand Finale." The ten-minute classically-based instrumental "La Villa Strangiato" again had every air guitarist maniacally emulating Alex Lifeson's furious runs. Two more D&D faves followed, beginning with a shortened version of the classic "By-Tor and the Snow Dog." When Lifeson brought out the doubleneck Gibson, the Rush fanatics knew they were in for a complete version of "Xanadu," Rush's musical take on the epic Kubla Khan by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. "Working Man," a hard charging blues fist-pumper from the band's self-titled debut album, closed the second set in fine fashion and had everyone in attendance rocking out.


Peart and Lee :: 7.29 :: Florida
Coming out for the encore, Rush covered two more songs from their Feedback album, Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" (albeit the Who's more upbeat version) and Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," the way Cream played it. Having seen Rush about ten times over the past 15 years, this is the first time I can recall them playing cover songs. Closing the night out with "Limelight," off 1981's Moving Pictures album, Rush again proved why after 30 years they are still one of the tightest acts in rock history.

From their beginnings as a blues-bases rock 'n' roll outfit to their sci-fi based prog-rock evolution, from their position at the forefront of the (quality) synth rock era to a return to their roots--for 30 years, Rush has been one of the most influential and innovative bands around and continues to do so with no signs of slowing down. Aren't bands eligible for the rock 'n' roll hall of fame after 25 years? Would someone please call Cleveland and ask what the problem is? Shit, Aerosmith is in there and they haven't written a good piece of music since 1978.

Words by: Ethan Schwartz
Images by: Dave Vann
JamBase | Florida
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[Published on: 8/11/04]

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