Saturday, August 14, 2010

RUSH: The Time Machine Tour
(08.13.10 - Verizon Amphitheater, Irvine, CA)

I first saw Rush on December 5, 1987. Not only were they my first arena show, they were also my first introduction to the caste system within hard rock and heavy metal. Condensing what could be an entire sociology thesis into a few broad generalizations, many of us embraced heavy music as an extension of our identity, searching for acceptance from a non-judgmental ally - and when many of us didn't find what we were looking for, Rush found us.

Many of us were the geeks, the nerds, the outcasts and the castoffs. We didn't play football. We played Dungeons & Dragons. We didn't have girlfriends. We had two or three guy friends. We didn't walk with a swagger. We felt awkward.

We weren't cool, but neither were Rush - and they spoke to us.

Nearly a quarter-century later, they still speak to us - louder, clearer, and without the shackles that may have bound our formative years.

Standing amidst a packed Verizon Ampitheater at the tail end of Rush's 26-song marathon last night, the night belonged to all of us, and we shared a kinship with the music that was magical.

"Limelight" may mean something different to each of us, but all those somethings add up to a lot - and that's what we celebrated together as Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart led us through a performance of their classic album Moving Pictures in its entirety.

From the first time each of us heard Rush, until now, we have been those pictures, getting jostled through life, nicked up, patched up, color corrected and over-saturated. We were the pictures and the songs were our frames, providing us a safe haven in which to escape, or paths from which to explore. And Rush offered frames like no others - frames that were intended to guide us, not contain us.

"I will choose the path that's real, I will choose free will..."

So there we were, 10,000 Rush fans united by our passion for a band who were never afraid to be themselves, affirming that we could do the same in the midst of sprawling "Subdivisions." The opening set focused heavily on the second half of a career now in its fifth decade, tracks like "Stick it Out," "Walkin' Them Angels" and "Marathon" raising themes of faith and focus in their varying forms.

Dubbed the Time Machine Tour, the show offered just that, beginning with the more recent retrospective, continuing with Moving Pictures, and closing with arguably the strongest finale of the band's career. The set took us back, opening with "Spirit of the Radio" and "Time Stand Still" - two tracks that served as transecting dashes between the band's epic roots and more experimental sensibilities. They showed us a glimpse of their present, offering new songs "Brought Up To Believe" and "Caravan" from forthcoming album Clockwork Angels. And they dove into the future with their stalwart, 20-minute opening track to 2112.

The set zigged and zagged through the opening 11 tracks, then careened headlong into Moving Pictures, where the stage was stripped of fancy accoutrements and polish, transporting us back to 1981 with a design more Atari 2600 than Playstation 3.

When one of rock's greatest records is performed by one of rock's greatest bands, choosing highlights is akin to choosing the holiest third of the Trinity - "Tom Sawyer" needed no introduction, "Red Barchetta" was sublime, "Witch Hunt" cackled through the night air, and "Vital Signs" spun the album to its close, providing the perfect lead-in to "Caravan" and the ritual awe of Neil Peart's drum solo.

"La Villa Strangiato" rode the "Far Cry" vapor trail back to earth and eased us into set closer "Working Man," where the Time Machine Tour reinforced its resounding statement - the years may change the way we interpret music, but it's power remains the same, casting a spiritual glow on our psyche and guiding us down our chosen path.

Past, present or future, nobody illuminates a path quite like Rush.


1- Spirit of the Radio
2- Time Stand Still

3- Presto

4- Stick it Out

5- Workin' Them Angels

6- Leave That Thing Alone

7- Faithless

8- BU2B

9- Freewill
10- Marathon
11- Subdivisions
12- Tom Sawyer
(Moving Pictures)
13- Red Barchetta
(Moving Pictures)
14- YYZ (Moving Pictures)
15- Limelight (Moving Pictures)
16- The Camera Eye (Moving Pictures)
17- Witch Hunt (Moving Pictures)
18- Vital Signs (Moving Pictures)
19- Caravan
21- Closer to the Heart

22- 2112 Part 1: Overture

23- 2112 Part II: The Temples Of Syrinx
24- Far Cry

25- La Villa Strangiato
26- Working Man

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