“The time is now again…”
The demigods of Progressive Rock (if it can still be called that these days?) made their return to these alien shores to kick off the European leg of their “Clockwork Angels” tour supporting the album of the same name released last year to critical acclaim.
They are generally known as the nicest bunch of people you’d prefer to be stuck in a lift with.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for most of the past 30 years you may remember Rush in one form or other, Led Zeppelin sound-alikes, epic battles of heart and mind, flowing kimonos (move along… nothing to see…), marathon time signature changes, synth laden songs of middletown dreams to a headlong flight into the ether. The more that things change the more they stay the same can also be said of Rush. The three men of Willowdale have been working them angels nearly 40 years of overtime and it’s “Miller time”!
On Wednesday 22nd May the Rush caravan rolled into Manchester and setup their stalls to entice, delight and entertain us. The show opened with Subdivisions and quickly progressed through some of their 1980’s back catalogue. While for most diehard Rush fans anything past 1978 is considered as their lesser works without the personnel and stylistic changes early on Rush would probably have not amounted to more than a Led Zeppelin cover band that used to be big in Toronto way back when… For the members of the band the notion of time standing still is nothing short of heresy. Personally I loved the fact that they had brought back songs like The Analog Kid (they were there and rocking hard…) and Manhattan Project and Red Sector A into the setlist.
The second set was a showcase of the new songs from Clockwork Angels. Now although I had the CD shortly after it came out (thanks to my wife for getting Classic Rock magazine) I had only listened to the album 3 times in the car on the way to work. Somehow I couldn’t get to grips with what this new album was all about. Hearing the songs performed live seemed to transform them and give them a life of their own. The addition of a string section, including I may add a rather foxy looking violin player (Audrey Solomon) who was wearing thigh length boots and what looked like spray on leather pants added an air of delicacy and subtlety to the songs as well as some phwoar factor!
Amid all of this was the exemplary lighting show we’ve come to expect from the band, floating screens and pyrotechnic displays couple with the creative use of the rear screen augmenting the show. That’s one thing about going to a Rush gig in that you are guaranteed a top notch audio-visual experience that never outshone the music but adds to experience.
The final part of the second set returned to some earlier songs such as YYZ, Dreamline, Tom Sawyer and the eponymous 2112 for the shows finale.
While the band are now in their twilight years approaching their seventh decade and are a far cry from the young men trying to find the world that ought to be, the gig was proof that there’s still gas left in the tank.
The spirit may be strong with Rush however the same cannot be said for those who attended the Manchester show…
With a band that has been the underdog of the music world for the past three decades Rush fans have earned the reputation as a unique community of fans, frequently getting together to chat about Rush in the lengthy gaps between tours, holding conventions and raising money for good causes. They are generally known as the nicest bunch of people you’d prefer to be stuck in a lift with.
As many rock fans know there is an unwritten rule that when at a gig you need to stand up and rock out in support and appreciation of the artist. A band of Rush’s stature deserves a standing ovation after each song!
A standing ovation is a form of applause where members of a seated audience stand up while applauding after extraordinary performances of particularly high acclaim.
Standing ovations are considered to be a special honour. Usually, when a critical mass of a small fraction of the audience stands up (perhaps one-fifth), the entire audience becomes compelled to stand as well.
What I witnessed that night was the most lukewarm reception I have ever seen at a Rush gig. What also irked me and many others were the miserable excuses for “so called fans” telling people to sit down. Let me make one thing clear here IT IS A F***ING ROCK GIG!!!
I read afterwards in one fan forum that some people had even been threatened with violence if they didn’t sit down. If its come to this kind of behaviour at a gig then something has seriously gone wrong. I have to say that the Manchester audience were the most miserable bunch of t***s I have ever had the misfortune to be sat with. If you don’t know how to enjoy a live show stay the f*** at home and watch Britain’s Got Talent instead as you obviously have no appreciation for true musical genius!
Back in 2007 during the Snakes & Arrows tour I was in the legendary Block 102 which really showed everyone else how to rock and rock hard. Alex Lifeson loved it and kept coming over to us as the video below shows.
Verdict: A cracking live show let down by a poor Manchester audiences lack of appreciation for a class act and shameful behaviour towards other Rush fans!