Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Rush: Greensboro, NC 4/2/11

Because I am dedicated (and the night they were in Louisville I had to work):

There were plenty of empty seats (probably due to the postponement from Friday to Saturday) but thankfully for us it gave plenty of elbow room. The play-through of the entire album of "Moving Pictures" from start to finish was the centerpiece but actually seemed to be only a small part of the show. I was surprised when Geddy introduced a "new song" called "Brought Up To Be" but soon realized it was "BU2B", the b-side to the recently released "Caravan". The overwhelmingly male audience (average early 40s with some teens, pre-teens, and at least one grooving white-hair) seemed polite and sober. Very few of the mouthy drunks you see at most concerts. As an example, the guy sitting in front of me was engrossed in some sort of anime role-playing game on his iPhone during the intermission.

The first and second halves of the show were prefaced with short skit videos (entitled "The History of Rash (sic) Part 2" and "The Real History of Rush Part 9")with the band members playing various characters, Alex as an obese inventor of the titular time machine being the only recurrent character in each episode. The theme was self-deprecating and self-referential humor but with the volume, distortion, and earplugs involved I couldn't understand a fair amount of what was being said.

The opening skit dragged on a bit but soon enough gave way to "The Spirit of Radio" as the opener.

The early setlist was decidedly late-period heavy ("Stick It Out", "Leave That Thing Alone" with the grooving alien things on the video screen, and "Presto" with its poetically wistful black-and-white videos of magicians adding to the sweetness of the closing chorus repeat). They took a break quite early in (Geddy: "because we are very old men...")

The next video intro involved fat Alex and his time machine changing the "Tom Sawyer"-playing band alternately from kids to 70s kimono version to cavemen to chimps to others at random. This eventually led to the real band coming back out with the real "Tom Sawyer." This started the real meat of the concert and my favorite section, with "Freewill", "Marathon", and of course the "Moving Pictures" segment this began. The performance of "The Camera Eye" really opened my eyes (sorry) to the epic nature of the song I hadn't really appreciated before, with the videos of New York and London playing on the video screen as accompaniment to the lyrics. Of course there were fire poofs, fireworks, and an occasional auditory interjection (on "Marathon": "...or a lucky shot [BANG] in the dark"'s not easy to make people jump in the middle of a loud concert).

Neil really got the crowd going with his "Rhythm Method" solo (has he expanded the jazz section?).

The highlight of the encore was a blistering "La Villa Strangiato".

The last song was "Working Man" finished with a bar or two of the main riff from "Cygnus X-1". There was then one last video of two vaguely familiar actors breaking into the band's dressing room after the show, eating a sandwich sitting on a plate labeled "for Neil Peart ONLY", then getting caught by the band themselves, only to be given a signed double-bass on their way out the door. The allegory seemed to say don't be obsessive, but we're cool guys anyway. I thought this meant a second encore, but then the lights came on.

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