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Rush

Live in Chicago, Illinois, June 2015

Review by Greg Olma

I simply can’t believe that Rush have been around for slightly more than 40 years, thus the name of the tour being R40.  I have seen my fair share of concerts by these recent Rock n Roll Hall of Famers, and each time I am surprised by the playing, presentation, and set list.  This recent jaunt through Chicago proved that while Rush is in the twilight of their career, they still have plenty to offer even the longtime fan such as myself.  Is this the best Rush show I have seen?  No, but it is definitely in my top three because they pulled out all the stops in trying to really encompass their whole career.  You truly get a look back at 40 years of music in reverse chronological order.

The show started with a few track of their excellent Clockwork Angels album; namely “The Anarchist”, “Headlong Flight” and the title track.  As the show progressed, the crowd was treated to some “hits” and some not so familiar tunes.  For instance, when visiting the Counterparts record, they decided to play “Animate” instead of the more recognizable “Nobody’s Hero.” I for one was happy with the selection because I tend to like the deep cuts, but I understand they have to play to the masses who generally want hits.  The first set ended with “Subdivisions” which set up the second set to be the songs from the golden age of Rush.

If you had asked me to pick a set list for Rush, many of the cuts in set two would be present.  While hits like “Tom Sawyer,” “Spirit of Radio” and “Closer to the Heart” are great to hear, I was floored when they performed lesser known track like “Jacob’s Ladder” and parts of the “Cygnus X-1 Books I and II” saga.  I can remember seeing that material played back in the early 80s but has since been dropped for newer material.  In keeping with taking us back through time, Both Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee donned double-neck guitars for “Xanadu.”  They even used the old-school dry ice where it flows on the stage instead of going in the air like fog.  Quite honestly, it brought a tear to my eye to see something that was so much a part of my childhood.  The second set ended with four parts of the “2112” suite.

The Chicago crowd was not about the let Rush leave without a few more tunes as an encore.  They continued to move backward with a string of songs from their first three records.  The encore kicked off with “Lakeside Park” (although they didn’t play the whole song) which quickly moved onto “Anthem.” To cap off the evening, the band played “What You’re Doing” and “Working Man.”  As I mentioned earlier, this may not have been the best Rush show I have attended (that honor goes to my first Rush show in 1980) but the set list elevated this show making it a “must see.”  I’m glad I was able to catch the R40 Tour, and if this is the end of the line for Rush, then they are going out on a high note.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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