Slideshow: Rush at Bankers Life
We'll answer your question now. Yes, they played "Tom Sawyer."
Thursday, Sept. 14
It’s been almost 40 years since Rush released their full-length debut.
After that long it’d be easy to assume they’ve been relegated to the state fair circuit or, like the Def Leppards and Poisons of live music, doomed to play the same set list every summer.
Not so much.
Instead the Canadian proggies just opened a new tour for their 19th studio album, Clockwork Angels. And while classic rock radio staples like “Tom Sawyer” probably won’t and can’t leave their live repertoire, they played nine straight tracks off their newest opus Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Most old-school artists can get away with maybe two new songs tops, and they have to warn the audience before they play them so they’ll know it’s time to hit the restroom or concession stand.
Rush can do this because they have one of the most loyal fan bases. Go to any of their concerts and you’ll see attendees not only wearing T-shirts of their current tour but others stretching as far back to almost the beginning.
The packed house on Thursday enjoyed the new material as much as the standards. It helps that Clockwork Angels is some of Rush’s most sinewy rock ever. The multi-faceted “Headlong Flight” stands with three-headed monsters like the classic instrumental “YYZ.”
The new material, played at the beginning of the second set, included a string section. It marks the first time Rush has included musicians beyond their trio format in concert. That added gravitas to the mostly puissant selections.
A Rush concert is never complete without a Neil Peart drum solo. His normally 10-minute showcase was split into three this time, including a turn in the middle of instrumental “Where’s My Thing?” and new rocker “Headlong Flight.” His individual solo was much shorter than usual, a futuristic-sounding treatment that served as an ode to the recently-departed Neil Armstrong.
For being ages 59 to 60, Rush still tirelessly performs three-hour shows. This tour features a 28-song set, including three parts of their opus 2112 to close the proceedings. Guitarist Alex Lifeson let off more than one deep breath after a particularly acrobatic part. Singer/bassist Geddy Lee called the intermission their “blood transfusion.”
But after 38 years they’re showing no signs of slowing. They’ve never taken themselves too seriously, but this time out they seem to be enjoying themselves more than ever. Chalk that up to a band that’s carved out their own niche in rock-and-roll lore, on their own terms.
[A+E] Festivals + Parties, DJs + Dancing, Rock, Hip-hop
[A+E] Classical Music, Jazz + Blues + R&B
[Music] DJs + Dancing
[Music] DJs + Dancing