RUSH closed a lengthy chapter on their career with the live performance of Clockwork Angels (CA). A chapter which came full circle with a final encore of 2112.
My first RUSH concert was on the original Moving Pictures tour some time ago. I recently revisited those memories on The Time Machine Tour. In order to understand the significance of CA, I invite you back to a time when 2112 first came alive for me.
Myself and some college friends had tickets for a Saturday performance of RUSH in 1981 but we thought why not catch the Friday show as well. So we arrived in the nick of time, having not planned very far ahead for Friday.
I was in the hallway and heard the spatial intro whirring sounds to 2112. I was transported thru the black curtain to a railing directly opposite the band on the upper level some 60 yards away at Kemper Arena. My first ever concert was Bad Co. at that venue a couple years before which made me want to play the drums. This was something quite different, however, thunderous yet controlled at the same time - it was magical to me...having never seen something so grand before. I was hooked immediately and have been a RUSH fan ever since. Neil Peart spinning his stick and never losing a beat on the intro, Geddy Lee singing, playing bass, keyboards, pedals, Yahtzee and whatever else he could grab and Alex Lifeson soaring opposite him.
I know DRUMline would not exist now if I hadn't seen that but somehow everything seemed possible. I was 18 or so and in those formative years some things really grab you. Had I met RUSH then, I probably would have fainted. Should I meet them today I probably would discuss golf, baseball or trips to National Parks. The cool thing for me is that through all the changes in my life, RUSH has been the soundtrack. Usually their songs 'elevate my mood' as is suggested in 'The Spirit of the Radio'.
Until I saw the band live, however, I didn't quite get how amazing they actually were. It didn't seem possible but I was witnessing it so my expectations were raised.
Since their longer songs nearly ended their career, the Moving Pictures format became the new modus operandi and the material changed from 20 minute epics to 6 minute masterpieces (and they had several). Ironically with the death of conceptual albums they released CA, a collection of 6 minute masterpieces that tell a singularly epic tale some 30 plus years after they abandoned that path for shorter themes. They pulled it off, however, in grand style...a complete thematic idea. With the addition of the string section at the live performance, it felt a little like a cross between Broadway and a rock concert because the performance was telling a story. Seeing Moving pictures live in 1981 was amazing. Seeing CA live was transcendent. Will we be treated to this again? It took a generation for the band to complete the work they started with 2112. I feel like I saw the initial sketch in 1981 and now the painting is complete.
Initially, when I saw the CA Tour set list I was reluctant since I enjoyed so much of the classic RUSH on R30, Snakes and Arrows and The Time Machine Tours. Yet...this was probably the best RUSH concert I have ever seen. It forces you into the future while keeping a foot in the past consistent with the Steampunk theme. For sheer spectacle RUSH have no match. When you factor in the incredible music and musicianship and the amazing impact of the string section, La Villa Stringiato as I like to call them - WOW!