Monday, August 27, 2007

All the World's Indeed a Stage...

…and we are merely players, performers and portrayers, each another’s audience outside the gilded cage. (“Limelight,” lyrics by Neil Peart)

Rush took to the stage at Verizon Wireless Music Center last night in Noblesville (Indianapolis), Indiana. The concert marked my third live Rush experience, the best one by far.

The Canadian prog rock trio opened with “Limelight” (Moving Pictures, 1981), a standard on classic rock radio, and didn’t wrap for nearly three hours. There was a 30-minute intermission, but when the band retook the stage, they played some of their newest material with a renewed vigor, surprising for the aging rockers.

And the set list did NOT disappoint. They played B-sides like “Entre Nous,” “Freewill” (Permanent Waves, 1978) and “Witch Hunt,” my favorite song from the Moving Pictures album. Of course, the set was ripe with new material from the 2007 Snakes and Arrows release and crowd favorites, “Tom Sawyer,” “Spirit of Radio” and “Subdivisions.”

The second set included a new instrumental, “Malignant Narcissisim,” from which Neil Peart launched into an incredible drum solo that included his trademark snare rolls, cowbells, synthesized drums and vibraphone, all on a rotating stage. He finished it off with a jazz segment augmented by a video honoring such drumming legends as Buddy Rich. He once again proved that age has not slowed him down one iota.

In fact, Neil, Geddy and Alex all play virtually flawless, but I wouldn’t expect any less from the seasoned vets of rock. Geddy’s basswork now dominates much of the performance as the group has gotten away from their highly synthesized past. He only played a lone keyboard a handful of times. The rest of the show was balls-out, gritty, guitar-driven, rhythm-centric rock.

Verizon is a great outdoor venue and we had great seats to complement the outstanding weather. What made it an absolutely perfect night was sharing it with some old friends, one of whom camped out at Market Square Arena with me for tickets to the 1986 show. All these years later, and Rush just keeps getting better with age. I hope this wasn’t the band’s last tour.

(Click here for a complete Rush discography.)

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