Rush Brings Their Time Machine Tour To Nashville

Written by April 4th, 2011 at 10:43 am

(Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

“We got about a thousand songs to play tonight.”

Geddy Lee, bassist and singer for the legendary group Rush, may have been exaggerating a little Sunday night at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, when he said that to his raucous crowd. But only just a little. He and his two bandmates, the always mind-blowing Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, played for close to three and a half hours Sunday night, running through classic rock radio staples, deep cuts, and their seminal album, 1981′s Moving Pictures, in its entirety.

Sure, there was a twenty-minute intermission snuck in there, but that was the only sign that Rush has aged at all since the day Moving Pictures came out in 1981. Lee can still hit all of the high notes he’s known for, skying to reach the refrain of “Closer to the Heart.” He can still send shivers down your spine with his hurting delivery on “Subdivisions”: “In the high school halls/In the shopping malls/Conform or be cast out.”

And those other two guys weren’t half bad, either. Long instrumentals like “YYZ” and the mind-blowing encore “La Villa Strangiato” show how tight Rush still is as a band and how sharp their musical chops are compared to not only to their past selves, but to anyone else out there playing today, yesterday, or in the next twenty years. Last night, Lifeson did more than just play his solos note for note. He ripped through “Limelight” and straight up dominated the deep bends of “2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx.” Peart did more than just play a drum solo; in his spotlight moment, during which his kit rotated around him not once, but twice, he touched on jazz, afro-beat and good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll.

Most importantly, Rush gave the crowd what they wanted. Or perhaps the multi-generational crowd wanted whatever Rush would give them. The symbiosis between the two entities was clear from start, heard in the cheers greeting the opening video skit, which featured both a polka and a disco version of “Spirit of the Radio,” Lifeson in a fat suit and Lee wearing a monocle.

Rush was here to have fun, and if you were going to stand and watch this show, you better have been having fun, too. Lee first appeared on stage wearing a shirt that said “RASH” in the traditional Rush logo, and he then bounced around, hopping to and fro like a teenager playing these songs for the first time. Lifeson shook his guitar with both hands to get that extra little bit of sustain, banging it against his mic stand. Peart threw his drumstick thirty feet in the air end over end and caught it in rhythm.

Despite all the musical complexity of their songs, Rush does not seem like a band that takes themselves too seriously. They broke out a reggae version of “Working Man” for the final song of their encore, enjoying the light-hearted beat before finally breaking into the song’s normal gritty groove. And just before the lights went up, they showed a skit featuring actors Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, both reprising their roles as Rush-crazed fans from the movie, “I Love You, Man.”

“The Holy Trinity, they’re guys just like us,” says Segel’s character, Sidney Fife. “Except they’re also the greatest musicians in the history of the world.”

Exaggeration? Maybe only just a little.

  • Jeff england

    Matt is spot on on this review. WOW! what a show. I am 53 YO and loved Rush as a teenager. A long-time dream for my son Corey, 17, and an avid bassist and Getty Lee Protege, was finally realized. We stood for 3 and a half hours without complaint. Seeing the excitement and energy exuded from my boy was priceless. The greatest concert we have seen and a memorable moment between 2 generations.

  • ARP

    What a show! The weather was fantastically warm for April and Rush was as hot as ever. The energy this band emanates is incredible!

  • Jon

    Peart’s solo was the best I’ve seen, and I’ve seen Rush nine times. Great show, second time I’ve seen them this tour (Atlanta was great also). Sound could have been better where we were sitting, but all-in-all a fantastic show. They still enjoy playing live and it shows in their performance.

  • casman53024

    I’ve seen them many times over the years, starting on the Farewell to Kings tour. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show with that much emphasis on the guitar and bass jams. Those guys rocked, big time. The added feature of mixing in the video footage from old shows was pretty cool, too.

  • http://AmericanSongwriter Kat

    Matt, I couldn’t have said it better myself. A fan of the band for many years, this was my first time to see Rush live. I have seen some great shows over the years, but this was by far the best. I was completely blown away. Three days later, I am still smiling. And isn’t that what it is all about anyway.

  • jaime javier

    Hi there, I’m from Peru in Southamerica and I live here in Usa just 02 years.I’m 48 and this was the first time that I was in a RUSH concert. The first time that I could heard them was in 1979 so I had to wait more than 30 years to get this chance to see them. It was a dream come true, and I get out of there plenty of satisfaction because they are still in full force and the fact that many people have seen them some times before saying that this last was the best confirms it. A lot of thanks for Geddy, Alex and Neal for all these years giving us a very spectacular music, thank you so much.

  • Kujo

    Great review with one exception…you mentioned him hitting the high notes on “Closer To The Heart”. Unless this show was unique, they are not playing the song on this tour.

  • DSCRAPRE

    Actually I know that they’ve played Closer to the heart at least a couple of times on this tour. There are Youtube videos to prove it.

    I can’t wait until tomorrow night!

  • Me

    They definitely played “Closer to the Heart.”

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  • Joe

    I went to this concert in Phoenix and it was phenomenal in every aspect. I can’t believe the sheer musical power that these three guys put out. They have incredible endurance and energy; the show never lets up. Alex’s and Geddy’s bass solos were awe-inspiring. I had to pick my jaw up off the ground on multiple occasions. Neil Peart…is Neal Peart. His 8 minute drum solo was the best I’ve ever heard. I can’t say enough about how talented that man is. Overall, a stunning, unforgettable performance.

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