Let’s turn the clock back a little bit, ok, we need to turn the clock back quite a bit back to 1974. There were a few great things that happened in ‘74 that were of significant note in my book – me being born and Rush releasing their debut album. So here we are May 30th , a concert tour 41 years in the making. But I can hear you now, ‘Why is is R40 when the first album came out 41 years ago?’ Well, Neil, was not the original drummer, he joined them after Rush, the debut album was released, so, it is kind of their 40th anniversary of them being a band. Neil is still ‘the new guy.’
When I started shooting concerts Rush is one of those bands I would have on that list of ‘yeah don’t I wish.’ I have been a diehard fan for more than half my life and so being able to stand at the edge of the stage and shoot the guys while they did their thing just never seemed to to be something that would fit within my reality. Well, guess I need to redefine my reality because there I was May 30th, Jiffy Lube Live standing at the front of the stage with my photo pass on me and cameras tested, retested and ready to go.
Celebrate the moment
As it turns into one more
Another chance at victory
Another chance to score
-One Little Victory – Neil Peart
So when you get a photo pass to most shows the typical rules are: no flash (duh) and the first three songs and then you are out. Going into this show we were told the first two songs. Only two songs? My first thought was ‘damn, that blows’ but then I remembered, um, this is Rush. I looked up the setlist from the previous nights to see what the first couple songs were to see approximately how long I would have to shoot – looked like about 12-14.5 minutes depending on what they chose for the second song, they had been switching up the second song on some venues. Ok, two songs makes a lot more sense now. I got this.
The house music stops playing, the crowd goes wild and the show is about to start. This is what I have been hoping for, this is what I have been waiting for. Neil took his seat behind the skins, Geddy hopped out stage left and Alex took his post stage right and with the first notes of ‘The Anarchist’ off their latest album “Clockwork Angels” the concert was underway.
There I was following the guys through my viewfinder, snapping away as they play while mouthing the words along with Geddy. Before I know it the first song has ended and they are starting into ‘Clockwork Angels’ my time shooting in the pit is starting to run out.
Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
-Time Stand Still – Neil Peart
As for the rest of the show…
For R40, the guys took the crowd on a music journey through their career, backwards. As I mentioned, they hit the stage with a few tracks from their latest (circa 2012) album ‘Clockwork Angels’ and then followed that up with a a couple selections from ‘Snakes and Arrows’. This passage through time continued and while not every album was touched upon, some for good reason and some were sadly missed (Hold Your Fire I’m looking at you.) But it was nice to hear some tracks from ‘Counterparts’ and ‘Grace Under Pressure.’ After the last notes of ‘Subdivisions’ finished, the guys decided 1982 was the right time to take a break (Subdivisions was released on the album ‘Signals’, released in 1982).
As intermission was coming close to an end, the screens started to show outtakes from videos that were used for previous concerts – which many, but not all, can be found on the Rush bluray boxset R40 – culminating with the South Park video of the boys getting ready to play Tom Sawyer. As Cartman counted up the guys in the band hit the first note and we were off and running again.
There were some songs on the setlist that were welcome surprises which make this fan ecstatic. Hearing ‘Natural Science’ was a bonus but to also hear the lost gem ‘’Jacobs Ladder” does make up for the absence of anything from HYF. And if those Rush fans heads hadn’t exploded yet, hearing a most of Cygnus X-1 Book II AND Cygnus X-1 only to be followed up with Xanadu…..what else can we say…..oh yeah, time for 2112. You want to know how to finish off a concert and wrap-up 40(1) years of touring and creating music? That my friends is how you do it. The wall of music and energy emanating from the stage from the three guys would rival the new, younger groups that are out now.
The guys left the stage and on the screen a leisure suited up Eugene Levy appears on the screen to announce the ‘headline act’ that we have all waited for’ and that ‘hopefully they will pick up another couple members because three people isn’t enough for a band, maybe some horns or something.’ The stage is set up bare, and for the encore the goys come out and do tracks from ‘Caress of Steel’ ‘Fly by Night’ and ‘Rush’ before leaving the stage one last time.
Aside from watching the guys play, it was fun seeing the stage transform during the show. At the top of the set the stage was set up jsut as it was for the ‘Clockwork Angels’ tour but as they started to progress through albums the stage was changed. A couple guys in red jumpsuits would come on and remove some set pieces and replace them with other pieces. Steampunk elements were changed out for clothes dryers. Eventually a wall of amps were flanking Neil but even that didn’t last. As they went further and further in time the stacks got smaller and smaller until the encore when the the few amps that were there were placed on old chairs. This was a fun element to add to the show to enhance the trip back in time.
You can tell that these guys love the music they have created. At this point in their career some bands would be able to call it in and just hit the stage and phone it. The R40 show was a wonderful retrospective of their career. My only regret was the show couldn’t have been another hour or so longer to allow a track from each album to be selected, toss in another intermission to give the guys another breather. Yeah, I know, that is asking a bit too much, but a guy can dream can’t he. Hell, I had a dream of one day shooting Rush and look what happened.
The future disappears into memory
With only a moment between.
Forever dwells in that moment,
Hope is what remains to be seen.
-The Garden – Neil Peart
Rush – Jiffy Lube Live – May 30, 2015