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Rush (8/20/02)

Smirnoff Center (Dallas, TX) by Gears

After weeks of gentle prodding, I undertook a rock and roll field trip with some friends Tuesday night at the Smirnoff Music Centre in downtown Dallas.  Plunking down forty bucks to sit on the lawn about a hundred or so yards from the stage, a took a pull from my eight dollar beer while lounging in my seven dollar rental lawn chair and went about the business of getting in the proper concert going state of mind.  As the sun was going down, the first signature chords ripped through the venue announcing the presence of the aging Prog-Rock power trio from the Great White North.  Billed as "An Evening with Rush", I was treated to a studio like performance of the band's signature sound for over two and a half hours amongst the 10,000 or so in attendance.  I'm here to tell ya-they've still got a little somethin'.

Never having owned any albums by the band, my sole exposure to their music has been through years of mind numbing Classic Rock radio.  A genre that I once embraced, Classic Rock has gone hopelessly stale for me in the past couple years.  Must have been the thousandth time I heard "More Than a Feelin".  I remember creating a tape early in my college days that was a compilation of my fifty "greatest hits"-songs I could hear time and again and never tire of.  Now ten years later, I look at the titles of songs on the outdated tape and shudder.  I really placed "Takin' Care of Business" ahead of "Radar Love"?  Blasphemy.

Anyhow, during the course of the show for which there was no opening act (Virtually a Rush Block Party Weekend: "All Rush-All the Time"), the band played close to forty songs-pretty solid stuff.  There were the inevitable, "This is the first time we've ever played this song on tour" moments that left all but the most die-hard fan scrambling for the bathroom or beer stand but all the hits were played.  Starting off with "Tom Sawyer" through "YYZ", "2112", "Big Money", "The Spirit of Radio", "Limelight" and finally ending with "Working Man", the band displayed the rare talent of being to replicate the studio sound on stage note for note.

I once heard the critique leveled against Rush that they were basically just musical showoffs: A guy that can sing real high, a guy who can play fast guitar, and a guy who can play really fast drums.  While it's true that you're either in Geddy Lee's camp as a vocalist or definitely out, there is no denying the fact that even after thirty years, the guy can hit every note put to vinyl in the 70's.  I can't say the same for some recent acts I've taken in (Bono).   Guitarist Alex Lifeson is pretty underrated.  Never placed in the pantheon of guitar gods, he's a very good technician playing clean and at times inspired guitar.  Securing his place as The World's Greatest Drummer, Neal Peart is otherworldly as he pounds the forty or so percussion instruments in his vicinity.  The drum solo is probably the number one concert whip of all-time but with Peart you could watch him play for hours and never get tired of it.  Just an incredible spectacle.

As for the scene, well you remember those guys who were Rush fans in high school-acne riddled with long hair, usually toting around a Dungeon and Dragons game or somesuch.  Well nothing much has changed for them except now they're married to one of those women that look like they smell like sour milk.  Also, the tattoo was a big player at the concert for both sexes.  This was easily noted because of the large number of tank tops, most of them brandishing cigarette brand names or NASCAR sponsorships being worn. 

At least those people wore shirts.  A great majority of the Metroplex's roofers evidently turned out as evidenced by the throng of overweight fortysomething guys shirtless in work boots and wearing dirty jeans with a bandanna hanging out of the back pocket.  In all, I saw four attractive women and I think they were working at one of the concession stands.  For a band positioned as "rock intellectuals", you would have a hard time finding a hundred of the evenings concert goers whom you would trust with anything more complicated than a Denny's menu. 

All and all, a good time was had.  My first visit to the Smirnoff confirmed what I'd heard: Good place to see a show if you make six figures and it's less than 95 degrees (No and Yes respectively).  And while I'm not running out to buy one of their over thirty albums, I'll acknowledge a new appreciation of the band and an understanding of their devoted fans. 

Well the ones I know anyhow.

 

[Qubert's note:  You have been reading guest review by Gears.  You can contact him at gears21@yahoo.com.]

 

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