The forecast was for rain, our seats were way up in the 58th row, the traffic getting into Red Rocks was horrendous and we were going to see a Rush. Most Rush fans would trade their first-born or maybe even their favorite bass to see Rush at Red Rocks. I am not most Rush fans. I woudn’t even consider myself a Rush fan. My experience with Rush is limited to putting on my buddy’s dad’s Moving Pictures album and signing along to Tom Sawyer. That weekly ritual, along with the radio singles, is what I know of this Canadian band.
But as time moves on, I have kept a little checklist in my head of the still living legends that I need to see if I get a chance. I’ve seen Floyd in all their incarnations, The Who, Van Halen (with David), Tom Waits many times, Leonard Cohen, Springsteen and Neil Young. But I had never seen Rush. So I figured it was time. They were performing the one album I know, Moving Pictures, in it’s entirety and they were playing my favorite venue.
We finally got parked in the lower-south lot and made the hike to our upper row. We got there just in time to catch one of those songs I know, Spirit of the Radio. The first thing that caught my attention was how good they sounded. The sound was crisp, tight, perfect…even from row 58 where the wind can reek havoc some nights. But tonight there was no wind, the rain forecast turned out to be bunk and it wasn’t cold at all. Besides some initial problems with their visual effects, it turned out to be a perfect night at the Rocks.
The setlist has been the same through the entire Time Machine tour so I figured we’d have almost the whole first half to get beers, wander, etc. I was wrong. They got the screen working for Presto and once that was up the show rose to levels of pure entertainment that might just surpass every other show I’ve seen at Red Rocks. The larger than life black-and-white Neil, Alex and Geddy on the giant screen, along with video of magicians pulling rabbits out of hats and the incredible sound of the music had us mesmerized. We didn’t go get beers until about 6 songs in.
How I doubted this show would be amazing is beyond me. These guys have been doing this a long, long time…long before I was born! And they proved their expertise and experience last night. They almost made me embarrassed to listen to some of the modern music I rave about to anyone who will listen.
The first set lasted one hour and ended strong with a trinity of Freewill, Marathon and Subdivisions. At which point they announced they are ‘aging rapidly and need a break’ I needed a break as well and went to the restroom to find something you don’t see every day…a long ass line for the men’s room and an empty women’s room with Red Rocks staff guarding it so men didn’t decide to cross over. Women just don’t get Rush, I guess.
The second half started with the time machine clock rolling up to 1980, some funny video of the band rolling through time from being babies to old wizard men and then the band took the stage with Tom Sawyer. I sang along like that 7 year old kid back in my friend’s living room in 1984. Tom Sawyer led into Red Barchetta and then through the rest of Moving Pictures until the final notes of Vital Signs.
‘In case you didn’t realize, that was moving pictures’
The second half ended with some songs I knew, some songs I didn’t and the famous drum solo. After leaving stage for a few minutes they came back with an two song encore that ended the night with a swing(?) version of Working Man that built up to the full Sabbath-like rock version. It was a great ending to a near perfect 3-hour rock show. I don’t think a show has ever exceeded my expectations like the one I experienced last night!
After the show was over a ‘meanwhile backstage’ message came on the screen before it played a hilarious video showing Paul Rudd and Jason Segel from I Love You, Man illegally backstage. The band finds them back there with fake backstage passes and eating their food. Starstruck comedy ensues. They end up getting booted, but Geddy follows them into the hallway and hands Paul Rudd his double neck bass, telling him to keep ‘slappin’ da bass mon’!