Thursday, August 2, 2007

REVIEW: Rush at Shoreline Amphitheatre, Aug 1

Sometimes you just need a good old-fashioned rock show. You know, the kind with smoke-filled green lasers, videos and hours and hours of achingly loud, well-played, frantic music.

That's what Rush, the three-plus-decades-old Canadian art-rock band, gave its fans Wednesday in Mountain View, and will continue Friday and Saturday with shows in Concord and Sacramento.

As with the great amphitheater tours of yore, the band mixed healthy doses of old hits, hidden chestnuts, and solid new material, so strong it made me want to buy the new disc immediately. They even gave out a free poster at the end, recalling the value-added days of Bill Graham's Fillmore.

Isn't that what rock tours are supposed to do? Yet, most classic rock bands are touring on fumes, happy memories and stand-ins for the original members (some, like Journey, hiring cover band musicians to reenact original parts).

Also, Rush never scrimps on the special effects. There were great lights, lasers and South Park videos. That other trio, the Police, gave a performance that was as stripped down and thin, content-wise, as your local newspaper is these days.

Rush avoided most of the songs on its anniversary tour two years ago, pulling out chestnuts from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Many of the highlights included the new material, such as a complex instrumental, "The Main Monkey Business," and another, showing off solos, "Malignant Narcissism," which avoided the aspersion of its title with what to me was the best drum solo in a lifetime of great drum solos by Neal Peart.

He moved from lush African melodic sounds to his regular Buddy Rich tribute, with an intensity that kept even the most ardent lyric lovers and solo-haters in their seats and away from the bathrooms and snack bars. I'd see the show again for that alone.

Like the Police, these are three highly skilled musicians, who have managed to mix adventurous playing with unlikely radio hits. Unlike the Police, when Rush strays into jazz, it is still convincing and intense.

There's no smooth jazz or shopping mall music here. They are too cool to be cast out.

PS: Could some Rush fanatic please explain what the barbecuing chickens were all about behind Geddy Lee??? Those were the weirdest amps I've ever seen, not to mention the chef who kept coming out to baste the birds.

MINI RADIO REVIEW::::AS I was leaving Shoreline, I thought: remember the days when great radio stations followed big shows with sets by the bands? Too bad that doesn't happen anymore.

Then, I put on KUFX "The Fox" at 98.5 FM, and there was Greg Stone playing two hours of Rush. Now, that's what radio is supposed to be about. Staying in touch with the local community and serving their late-night needs.

Stone's nightly show defies attacks on commercial radio. It's the smartest rock show on the commercial airwaves and takes listeners back to the days when music mattered.

Here's the Rush setlist:

Digital Man
Entre Nous
The Main Monkey Business
The Larger Bowl (Bob & Doug video intro)
Secret Touch
Between The Wheels
Set 2:
Video Intro (features Alex)
Far Cry
Workin' Them Angels
Armor And Sword
The Way The Wind Blows
Natural Science
Witch Hunt
Malignant Narcissism
Drum Solo
Summertime Blues
The Spirit Of Radio
Tom Sawyer (South Park video intro)
One Little Victory
A Passage to Bangkok


Mr.Kim/Mick Bright Kim said...

Hi first vidio didn't working

James said...

Sometimes you just need a good rock review! Thanks Brad, nice to read about Rush. Since the Merc is running less and less rock stories there is less and less reasons to buy it. There are so few outlets for rock writing(remember BAM?). I'm glad to have found your blog.
Keep up the good work.

Eric said...

Yes, I agree it's nice to hear reflections on a memorable show and only wish I had gone. I probably saw the last 10 tours from Rush and was surprised how many new songs they played this time which saddens me since most probably won't ever be played again "live" in a future tour.

Curtis said...

Hey... found your blog randomly googling for Rush reviews! Anyway... the chicken rotisseries... Geddy runs his bass through a preamp and direct box straight to the PA without using any amps. Since that leave the space behind him empty, he fills it up with a different appliance almost every tour. He's had a refrigerator, commercial washer/dryers, and vending machines on previous tours. And if you notice closely, they are "mic'd". :-)

Evan said...

Excellent review of Rush. I saw them down here in SoCal (Irvine Amphitheater) 2 weeks ago and I could not agree with you more.
Curtis described the chicken rotisseries accurately. It started as a standing joke that when Geddy got rid of the amps behind him, he said he needed to add some other "appliances". They have a great sense of humor and the chicken thing was also worked into the opening video. I dont know if everyone noticed it or not, but when Alex started the show with Limelight, he stopped and pretends to be surprised that Geddy is not on stage and then Geddy comes running out with a chicken drumstick in one hand and wearing a bib and wiping his mouth.
I also agree that Neal's solo was his best effort yet. He is the best drummer alive!
Keep up the good work on the blog!


Space 2.0 said...

I was there!