OK, first things first. APPLE MAPS IS A FUCKING ABOMINATION AND NEEDS TO BE SMASHED. On my way to this show, I kindly asked Siri for directions to Jones Beach, which she brought up as "Jones Beach State Park." Fine, that's all well and good, but Siri and Apple Maps need to somehow figure out that 1000 Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn is not the same as 1000 Ocean Avenue in Wantagh, on LI. In fact, they're 39 fucking miles apart! FUUUUUUUUCK!!!!
Fortunately I realized this grievous, unforgivable error before too long, but by that point I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic driving in the exact wrong direction. Uggggggggggh. Anyway, ultimately this only would have mattered if I'd gotten there late, which I didn't. *WHEW*
Ahhhhh, Rush. As a card-carrying member of the "High School Pariah" club, Rush was my favorite band from sophomore year thru early college. Neil Peart's lyrics are frequently dismissed as "middle brow" or "condescending" or even "half-baked Randian garbage," but to a miserable, friendless teenager, the words to songs like "Subdivisions" or "The Pass" or "Freewill" can be a real lifesaver, sometimes literally. Growing up I proudly (?) owned every Rush album, with the most prized treasures of my music collection being several pricey-as-hell CD bootlegs (remember those?) and ridiculously high generation VHS video boots that captured live Rush performances throughout the years.
Despite my intense fandom, I never actually saw the band live until June 2004 outside Chicago on the "R30" 30th anniversary tour. Great show, great setlist - "Strangiato," "Xanadu" and "Working Man" FTW! I next saw Rush three years later at Jones Beach, and although frankly I could take or leave the heaping helping of songs from Snakes and Arrows (the album they were supporting at the time), it's tough to argue with a setlist that includes "Natural Science," "Circumstances," and "A Passage to Bangkok."
Rush has come through town a few times since then but I've skipped seeing them each time; I really wanted to go to the show at MSG during the Moving Pictures 30th anniversary tour, but I couldn't justify shelling out the $125 or so tickets were going for on the secondary market. In fact, I only wound up going to *this* show because, after checking tix prices / availability the day before the show, I felt a good ol' fashioned $50 ticket was too good to pass up.
After said aforementioned bullshit detour, I still found myself in my seat with plenty of time to spare. Although the show wasn't sold out, it still meant that I would be spending a few hours in a large group of Long Islanders, which is something I usually try to avoid at all costs. As expected, at this show I came across several awful, obnoxious, entitled wastes of oxygen, each of whom should be burned alive. The three worst, in my humble estimation:
3.) Hideous, thickly Lwong Eyelund-accented, middle-aged, spoiled, orange tanned skank screaming at the food service attendant "I DEMAND that you tell me how much a hwot dwog cwosts!" (Predictably, the sign announcing the price of offered food items - including hot dogs! - was mere inches from this disgusting tramp's face.)
2.) Obnoxious know-it-all 12 year-old with a seat right behind me shouting unsolicited factoids over the music related to the monetary value of Rush's musical gear to his mommie and daddie. "That amp costs like four thousand dollars!" "OMG That guitar is sooooo expensive!" etc. etc. etc. Fuck you, you little twerp; I hope your entire extended family gets brutally assraped by bears with AIDS.
1.) 400-lb repulisive pasty shithead shout-complaining about a girl near him who was dancing a little too hard for his liking. "I dunno bro, I think she was on ECSTASY!" FUCK. YOU. Anyone who complains about someone else's dancing at a goddamn rock and roll concert needs to be disembowled with a rusty melon baller, ASAP.
Heh. OK. On to the music. Rush has a well-deserved reputation for technical excellence, which they easily lived up to on this evening. Face it, these songs aren't exactly "Louie Louie" or whatever. Opening with three classic early-set songs ("Subdivisions," "Big Money," "Force Ten"), they then oddly went into a trio of deep cuts off of Power Windows, which kinda stalled the momentum for me. "Analog Kid" (see video above) is a personal favorite, featuring one of Alex Lifeson's greatest guitar solos. Nearly welled up during the moving "The Pass," and instrumental "Where's My Thing" had the band showcasing their fusion-ish chops, as well as the first of the evening's THREE drum solos. I could give two shits about "Far Cry," which closed the first set, as I took a break to fill up my water bottle and eat a pretzel.
Second set opened with several songs from last year's Clockwork Angels album. While I'm not a fan of that recent steampunk-inspired epic album, I do have to compliment the stage show that accompanied these songs - it certainly seemed as if no expense was spared accentuating and illustrating the songs from Clockwork Angels with projections, animations, and, a full string section. Overall, it sure coulda been worse.
After the 40-45 minutes of new crap, "Dreamline" ushered the catalog hits back in. "Dreamline" is one of the few songs in which the notoriously synchronous Rush actually "jams" a little, with a few welcome extra bars of rockin' out during the guitar solo. After the evening's third and final drum solo mercifully wrapped up, the string ensemble stuck around for two more songs, "Red Sector A" and scorching instrumental, "YYZ." (See directly below for a video of "YYZ" which infuriatingly cuts off RIGHT before the climax of Alex's solo.)
Second set closed with all-time AOR classic "The Spirit of Radio," by which point the lightly falling rain had become considerably more of a pain in the ass. During the encore, I stuck around for the obligatory performance of "Tom Sawyer" and the first couple sections of the "2112" suite before retreating towards the parking lot in the falling rain.
So, what was my take on the show, overall? Honestly, I felt that the setlist coulda been better, but then again I probably should've expected coming away at least a little disappointed in that regard, what with this being a Clockwork Angels tour and all. On the other hand, it seems as though Lerxst, Dirk and Pratt truly enjoy playing the new stuff, and with Neil recently hinting that he doesn't know how much longer he'll be able to keep up with the physical rigors of being Rush's drummer, I'm willing to go along with pretty much whatever these dudes can do to keep themselves interested at this stage in the game.