…because if it hadn’t been for the rain….
The gig was supposed to be July 7 and constant readers will remember I whined like a baby when the thing got rained out. The rain that night was horrible and cold. I was wet and miserable, my back hurt, and the idiots around me (who couldn’t figure out that when the instruments are still covered, the band is not about to magically appear and play…dumbasses….) had gotten on my nerves.
Here is a pic from that nightmarish evening…just as a little reminder.
It was a horrible night. But the rescheduled show was last night.
And it couldn’t have been any more different. The weather was beautiful, the crowd was fantastic, the venue was perfect (and let’s remember, were it not for Chicago Mayor Daley unethically, if not actually illegally, tearing apart Meigs Field a few years ago during the dead of the night when no one was watching, then this venue wouldn’t actually even exist!).
Now, I’ve seen Rush about 40-gabillion times, and they’re always a great band live. But the point of this gig was the album ‘Moving Pictures.’ It was the first Rush album I bought and the first serious record to which I tried to learn the drum parts. It is as near and dear to my heart as damn near anything.
But I did not see the ‘Moving Pictures’ Tour so I missed out on some of the songs. ‘Tom Sawyer,’ ‘Red Barchetta,’ ‘YYZ,’ and ‘Limelight’ I’ve heard in concert before. But never the second half, ‘The Camera Eye,’ ‘Witch Hunt,’ nor ‘Vital Signs.’
This was not only those songs but in order. It was the centerpiece of the show. As long as I hear that, it didn’t really matter was else they played. That’s how much of a nerd I am.
Well, let me just tell you something, those boys really know how to play.
In all the times I’ve heard them, I have never heard them this crisp. Last night, they were as tight as any band I ever heard. Normally, I like a loose sound. Music should be loose and allowed to breathe, but prog rock can’t be. It’s intricate and complex and it has to be tight.
Their standard comedic videos opened Act I and II, and closed the show (the last video always being designed to keep the audience in their chairs while the band slips away, that way they don’t get caught in the traffic, sneaky bastards!). They were funny, and wildly racially offensive, delving into Irish and Jewish stereotypes.
The set list from Act I, for those of you nerdy enough to care was: The Spirit of Radio, Time Stand Still, Presto, Stick It Out, Workin’ Them Angels, Leave That Thing Alone, Faithless, BU2B, Freewill, Marathon, and Subdivisions.
Act II was: Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, YYZ, Limelight, The Camera Eye, Witch Hunt, Vital Signs, Caravan, Drum Solo, Closer to the Heart (with a great acoustic intro by Alex), 2112 Overture/Temples of Syrinx, and Far Cry.
The encore was: La Villa Strangiato, and Working Man.
Most of those songs I’ve heard live but there were surprises such as Faithless, Presto, Marathon, and Far Cry. BU2B and Caravan are new and rocked my little johnnies like mad.
The big spiritual surprise of the night was 2112 Overture and Temples of Syrinx. I’ve never heard any of the 2112 Suite before and so that was very cool.
And let’s not forget. Working Man, a Zepplin-esque stomper was actually done – at least the first half of it – as an upbeat Calypso/reggae thing. Very odd, but oddly cool.
The lighting tech was brilliant, as it always is. The sound was crystal clear if a tiny bit bass heavy sometimes. The sight lines were great and the constant billow of smoke (meant to fill the upper strata of the venue so the lights would look more cool) wasn’t a problem at all.
The only problem I had with tech was the pyro. There were only three instances of pyro and they all seemed completely random. I know there were connections to the songs and that’s great, but the execution sometimes puzzled me. I realize you’re not going to get Kiss-sized pyro at a Rush show, but I think it would have been just fine to leave them out all together.
During intermission, some local radio yahoo came out and announced that, because they band was so thankful everyone came back after the rain-out, everyone in the audience was getting a free tour cap. It’s their standard merchandise cap, but it had been printed with ‘Chicago Rain Date, 2010′ on the back.
No where else on tour. Can’t buy ’em (except now there are problem some on eBay). It was, I thought, a very cool gesture by a very cool band that – ticket price not withstanding – generally treats its audiences and fans well.
It was an incredible show that meant much more to me than just another concert by a favorite group. ‘Moving Pictures’ was absolutely foundational to my drumming. It was the first time I realized that even rock drummers could stretch. They didn’t have to play just back beats.
Neil Peart proved to me, at age 13, I could play anything I wanted as long as it fit the song and kept that beat driving forward. Peart led me to Simon Phillips and Alan White and Bill Bruford and Billy Cobham and all those drummers who guided me through high school through their own music.
But he also showed me that drummers aren’t just drummers, they can be – and should be – percussionists. Well-rounded, able to add anything to the mix sonically. Listen to ‘Closer to the Heart.’ Hear those bells? Hear the chimes? Orchestral instruments played by a drummer.
And listen to the time signatures. 4/4, 3/4, 5/4, 5/8, 6/8, 7/8. Sometimes within the same damn song!
It was an incredible evening and one – as cheesy as it sounds – I won’t soon forget. Was it too expensive? Yes. Was it too far away? Yes. Was it a nightmare getting into and out of Chicago? Yes.
But was it worth it? Abso – fucking – lutely.
And that’s all I have to say about it. However, I have quite a few more crappy and semi-crappy pictures from my cell phone. So enjoy as well as you can.