Tweeter Center, Mansfield, Mass.
June 27, 2007
Growing up, my parents drove a car with only a tape player. My sister owned Moving Pictures, probably Rush’s most popular album, on cassette. I wore that tape out; now all the songs sound a half step up, but I don’t mind. Rush is a band that instantly made its home in my mental library and has been occupying and expanding it ever since. It’s not like I can stop them; they have 18 studio albums and five live albums in their back catalog.
Geddy Lee (bass, vocals, synthesizers), Alex Lifeson (guitars, vocals, synthesizers), and Neil Peart (drums, percussion) performed for nearly three straight hours at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield last month. I was one of 19,000 fans, rocking out to all 28 songs. The concert kicked off with “Limelight,” a classic from Moving Pictures, and continued with a retrospective journey through Rush’s older albums. At the climax of the first set, Rush jumped into “The Main Monkey Business,” an instrumental track from their latest release, Snakes & Arrows. After more than 30 years of playing together, Rush continues to write exceptionally intelligent, musically challenging, technical, and emotional arrangements.
Scattered between sets and particular songs were videos in which Rush showed their humorous and artistic side. “The Larger Bowl” was preceded by a hilarious introduction by the McKenzie Brothers and “Tom Sawyer” was introduced by the foul-mouthed animated boys of South Park. And in an effort to promote the new album, the second set introduced five new songs, all of which were accompanied by a dazzling video-synched spectacle, displayed on several screens throughout the venue.
A personal highlight for me included the performance of “Witch Hunt,” a song that Rush has not played in years. It was as if I was back in my car listening to Moving Pictures. In fact, “Witch Hunt” wasn’t the only song performed that night that they had not played in years; Rush rehearsed for weeks, re-learning a good majority of their songs. Neil Peart, with a reserved and focused look on his face, pounded through “Witch Hunt” elegantly to replicate every little nuance and fill. “Natural Science,” a song that clocks in at 9:05, was flawless and epic: a nauseating fist-pumping anthem that transitions through droning, brooding, and optimistic sections.
The technical savvy of Rush, combined with their appreciation for their fans (a love strong enough to make them dust off songs like “Entre Nous” and “A Passage to Bangko”) made for a fantastic show. A rock show is a rock show, but a Rush show is celebration of the chemistry between three of modern rock’s greatest virtuosos and millions of fans worldwide.