Canadian rock band Rush, the holy trinity, better known as guitarist Alex Lifeson, drummer/lyricist Neil Peart and bassist/keyboardist/singer Geddy Lee returned to Southern California to celebrate the group's 40th anniversary. The R40 Tour is a marathon time machine that begins with 2012's Clockwork Angels and travels all the way back to 1974's self-titled debut. There are very few bands who could play that wide a catalog and still hold their heads up high night after night, but Rush's evolution—from Hard-Rock to intricate Prog-Rock to transforming '80s Synth-Rock and back to a straight-ahead Power Trio—has led to one of the strongest and most reliable catalogs in rock history.
Lee explained that they'd be working backwards through the catalog. They were not necessarily stopping at every album, but they touched on many of the band’s highlights as they made their way back from a pyro-fueled version of “Far Cry” and the epic instrumental “The Main Monkey Business,” both from Snakes & Arrows, to “How It Is” from Vapor Trail and Animate from Counterparts.
During the scorcher “Roll the Bones,” fans were treated to a video of celebrities sharing the vocal spotlight, including Jason Segel and Paul Rudd, revisiting their I Love You Man roles as Rush fanatics. The Canadian Rockers brought the first set to a close with Grace Under Pressure’s “Distant Early Warning” and the keyboard-driven majesty of "Subdivisions" from Signals.
After a short intermission, the band began with the South Park gang introducing “Tom Sawyer,” followed by the monstrous track, “YYZ” also from Moving Pictures. “The Spirit of Radio,” rang out next with its historical opening notes from Permanent Waves, as Lee welcomed fans to the second half of the show before returning to Permanent Waves for “Jacob's Ladder.”
As the show continued to culminate, the band moved on to “Xanadu,” which featured Lee and Lifeson both strapping on double-necked guitars and Lee taking a synthesizer solo on his Moog. The set concluded with a blistering four part rendition of “2112.”
Fans marveled at the encore of solid guitar-driven tracks. From “Lakeside Park” to “Anthem” and two tracks from the self-titled album they released before Peart became Rush-A-Fied, “What You're Doing” and “Working Man.”
The R40 Tour was quite a ride. Despite the fact that all three members of Rush are just over 60 years old, they are still as musically astonishing as they were when they began touring 40 years ago. There are few bands today that can match their musicianship, as Rush once again proves, it’s really about the music.
Text and photos by Kevin Estrada
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