Live Show Review: Rush

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Date: June 8, 2015
Venue: Nationwide Arena
Cost: $104
Merch purchased: None

By: Kris Kotlarik

Way back in 2008, when Rush was on tour supporting their penultimate release, Snakes & Arrows, I had the pleasure of seeing them in Milwaukee with my dad. It was my first real concert experience, one I will probably never forget. The set contained a fairly definitive list of Rush’s greatest hits, along with the best tunes from Snakes & Arrows (“The Way The Wind Blows” among them).

With word spreading that Rush will be significantly scaling back their touring, it seemed like as good of a time as any for the band to significantly change up their setlist and play some songs that haven’t been played in a significantly long time. Fitting the title of the latest album, Clockwork Angels, they also played their set from most recent to their oldest, a theme that I found to be quite interesting. It’s a bold approach that might alienate some of their fans who just want to hear “the old stuff.” Indeed, some of the great classics were left out. No YYZ, Freewill, Limelight, or A Passage to Bangkok. It’s hard to picture seeing Rush play an entire show without busting out YYZ, the legendary instrumental, but that’s what we got.

We also got more of the epic 2112 than in the 2008 show, as well as the marathon track “Xanadu” from A Farewell to Kings. Both of those tracks were on my personal list for Rush songs I would like to see live, as well as Red Barchetta off of Moving Pictures and the incredibily long (and fun-to-watch) Cygnus X-1 tracks, so I am hardly complaining.

What else has changed over seven years, you might ask? For one thing, Neil Peart’s kit is slightly less insane than it was back then. It is no longer surrounding Peart (although the chimes are where the remaining battery of percussion pieces used to be) and it no longer revolves and does other crazy shit. By and large, the concert experience remains the same; Peart is as stoic as ever, Geddy Lee can say anything and the crowd will get fired up, and there are some cool sketches that feature Jason Segel and Stephen Root, among others, that lighten the mood. That includes the South Park spoof of “Tom Sawyer,” one of my favorite segments of the 2008 show.

My two biggest disappointments of the show would be the following items:

  • At the end of the show, there’s a funny video in which the Rush members attempt to get to their dressing room, only to find that the room has been taken over by a clown puppet bouncer who says they’re not on the list. It seemed like a perfect opportunity for another encore; after all, the show’s not over until the band hits the dressing room, right? But then the lights were turned on.
  • The merch prices were fucking ridiculous. I’m sure that the demand is high for their shirts, and rightfully so, but there is no way in hell I’m paying $50 for a t-shirt and $100 for a hoodie. That’s just absurd.

And for a show in which there were supposedly no cameras allowed in the (massive) venue, you would think that somebody would be searching people for weed. Sure enough, a couple of Cheech & Chong wannabes decided to blaze it up during the first set and were nowhere to be found during the second set, resulting in what may very well be the single-dumbest act of stupidity I have ever encountered at a concert. Yes, even dumber than pit ninjas. Dumber still than the woo-girls screaming for no reason at a local show. Who goes to see Rush and doesn’t even bother staying around for the whole show? By all means, blaze it up on your own time, but not in a goddamn arena. The security in general was rather lax; they barely showed any interest in searching people for anything, most likely because they probably already saw all the weapons they ever wanted to see during the Chris Brown Valentine’s Day show (aka the definition of irony).

Overall: If you’re debating on whether or not you should go see Rush on this tour, I would definitely recommend it, assuming you can get around the douchebag scalpers who have completely hijacked the secondary market. The band sounds as tight as ever. You may not hear everything you want to hear, but there will also be pleasant surprises for those who are open-minded. With that said, be prepared to give up your spleen for any souvenirs. Already lost your spleen? Well good news! They also accept kidneys, testicles, and aortas.

Rating: 4.0*


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