Rush Clockwork Angels Gig Review – 22nd May Manchester UK

“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”!

SNV32565 (Small)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.

Clockwork Angels String EnsembleThe 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!

Audrey Solomon

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!!!

Bite Me!

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!

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3 thoughts on “Rush Clockwork Angels Gig Review – 22nd May Manchester UK

  1. Michael
    I was at that show and have been a dedicated Rush fan for over 31 years, haveing travelled alot to see the guys. Their Manchester performacne was very poor. Very badly mixed during the first section (no guitar audible) and the guys just did not seem to wnat to be there. £85 a ticket for that was a disgrace and I will be thinking twice in future.

  2. Ultimately the sound quality depends on where you are located, I was in Block 115 Geddy’s side and the sound was quite good from there. But I have read other posts complaining about the sound in other venues such as the O2 Arena http://lawblogone.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/rush-live-at-the-o2-arena-london-may-2013-review/.

    As for the performance I wouldn’t have said that it was poor as even a poor Rush concert is still head and shoulders above other bands gigs. I think if the audience had responded more the band would have played better, certainly the reports from the other gigs (see http://www.t-n-m-s.com) show that they were getting better as the tour rumbled on. Some of the video’s on YouTube (see http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOjCP8uV7noaXzMJ0oBBRwQ) shot from the front row were breath-taking.

    Steep ticket process and lack of spare cash were my reason for only taking in 1 show this time around. From what I’ve heard Glasgow was a cracking show!

    Getting back to sound quality I recommend heading over to Dime or guitars101.com and downloading a few shows as there should be some good recordings surfacing fairly soon!

  3. I was in the stalls with my ‘mates’ (all old and greying these days) for our traditional ‘its a rush gig boys night out’ and I thought the crowd round us were great! We were all rocking with the lads. Sure there were a lot of folk sat down in the steeply tiered seating but given how steep it is I can’t blame the staff for getting people to sit, and they were all stood for the encore!

    The sound being honest was crap for most of the first half, but its was their first night over here and the crew were probably still ironing out the kinks in the wires from the transatlantic trip/ Having said that, a crap sound at Manchester is still better than a good sound at the NEC or Wembley, which both boom like crazy!

    That said, having been going to Rush gig’s since the late 70’s in comparison to how bad the sound was when Rush used to play at Deeside I think we have all got spoilt since we were kids!

    I’d give it a rating of a ‘good gig’ but not a stand out one. But in the state crews defence I’ll also say that, it was better than the opening gig in the UK on the R30 ‘reunion tour’ in London which, perfromace wise was amazing but really bad sound and by the time they got to Manchester (after the NEC which also boomed- but was better than London) they had the sound cracked and the gig was one of the best I’ve ever seen.

    Ah well roll on the Who at the end of the month even if I am stuck in one of the bloody tiered seats!

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