September 26, 2010
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Roy Turner
Photos by Giovanni Gallucci
Rush - "Clockwork Angels" Tour
"Time Machine" Tour
This tour is unusual to the normal "touring patterns" that this band follows. You will see a methodical pattern emerging throughout this review of the band's work ethic, which is not lost and completely celebrated by their legion of fanatical followers. Typically the band tours the States briefly after releasing an LP, historically playing five songs off it (always including the obligatory instrumental), while leaning heavy on recent material and then the rest is up for grabs from their vast catalog that now spans five decades.
This was different as earlier this year they announced they were working on the follow -up to 2007's Snakes and Arrows and even oddly gave you a taste of two songs they had already recorded. The new LP had artwork and even a name – Clockwork Angels. So this was their first preview tour, but if they only had two songs finished, what were they gonna play? For all of their combined age, Rush is not an oldies act, and live and die by that reputation.
The answer came with the announcement that in celebration of the 30th anniversary of their most commercially successful LP - 1981's Moving Pictures that they would perform the album in its entirety. Hey, why not? They normally play half of the record anyway and some of the songs we have never heard live, namely The Camera Eye which frontman Geddy Lee had famously complained of its length and complexity as to having no previous interest in performing it.
The tour was billed as The Time Machine Tour and once you got there you saw how that concept was played out. The show begins as their tours normally do with a comedic film introduction with that tour's motif and as much silliness as they can play off of. (For all of their intensity, this band is equally known for their humor). This one was rather long and was set out to fictionally explain the real history of Rush, or according to the film, Rash as they were originally called. A TIME MACHINE is produced and over the course of a freak accident the young band in the film is transported to you NOW, and live and playing the Spirit of Radio!
Off to a great start, and with no real new LP to promote it created the excitement that just about anything could come next. This is where the time machine motif comes in: As the giant video screen with rolling dates would slowly come to a stop on a random year and then the next song would start. And here is what came: Though fun and unpredictable, and knowing them as I do, the choices made sense, even though they wouldn't have been my first choices, I still take exception to the pacing of the songs. Meaning that if you are someone that was totally turned off to their mid/late 80's heavy keyboard sound, you were in big trouble that first hour.
Previous experience revealed a pattern: Most of these songs were singles or concert staples at some point or another: After Spirit of Radio they followed it with four songs in a row from their weakest period – Time Stand Still, Presto (easily the rarest song of the evening) Stick it Out and Leave that thing alone (two stinkers from 1993's Counterparts, an otherwise rather strong record).
Then hopefully you were into their last record Snakes and Arrows as here came two in a row from it. Also taking one of the previous mentioned songs from the forthcoming LP for a walk called Brought up to Believe. Than back to 80's keys with Marathon and Subdivisions. Very strange I thought.
Intermission time: and everyone had to know that the Moving Pictures performance would start the 2nd set but they did something cool anyway, as the rolling numbers were moving slowly during the break, creeping to 1981. When it got there an alarm went off signaling the end of intermission as the next film started. You know what came next: the film ends simultaneously as Tom Sawyer begins and off the races we go.
They finish the piece and then after Neil Peart's drum solo which is always a tour highlight, to appease the fans of the older material; the clock started rolling to the older years. But again they didn't exactly dust off any old gems, they played what you think they would – 2112, the Temples of Syrinx, etc.
Though Geddy didn't sing as well as he had in recent tours and the band looked a bit geezer -ish in their film close -ups, I'm still not complaining as the show was executed perfectly and what a joy that in 2010 they can still fill a place this big and remain relevant as ever. Because Rush is not really a band as it is three individuals. Just seeing Geddy, Alex and Neil in the flesh and doing their thing is such a pleasure to be a part of.