The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world


TORONTO – JULY 17 2010


Fresh from the release of the new documentary ‘Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage’, progressive heavy rockers Rush embarked on their Time Machine tour. The tour is billed as an evening with Rush, which includes the band playing the 1980 masterpiece ‘Moving Pictures’ in its entirety along with other tracks from beginning to present. This show was definitely worth getting off the couch for... we were lucky enough to catch one of the biggest (if not the biggest) rock bands to come out of Canada in their home town Toronto.

Walking into the Air Canada Centre it was amazing to see the vast variety of Rush shirts being worn; some vintage and rare and some brand new from the current tour. Outside the entrance there was a radio station stall set up cranking Rush and giving the dedicated fans a chance to win shirts and CDs by answering Rush trivia questions. As we entered the arena we were surprised to see the line to get a tour shirt was actually longer than the line to get a beer, and this was a Saturday night... but then again it is a Rush concert; you don’t need beer to have a good time.

The tour is called the Time Machine tour and the stage set is a true resemblance of this: with custom built amp cabs that look like washing machines and old radios complete with strange clocks and pipes sticking out blowing off smoke and what not throughout the show. In addition to the impressive stage props was the huge screen behind the stage used for film clips and live footage.


As the lights dimmed the screen brightened we were entertained with the opening video. The video is an alternative way of looking at the band’s beginnings with Geddy Lee (as a chef), Alex Lifeson (as an overweight band manager) and Neil Peart (as a cop) in some sort of Yiddish sausage diner watching a band named “Rash” beat out a polka version of ‘The Spirit of Radio’. The short film is full of sausage and fart jokes getting the crowd in the mood for a fun night. The video introduces the crowd to the time machine device which allows Rash to play their song in different styles of music based on the point in time, reflecting on the fact that Rush themselves have experimented with different styles of music over their forty odd year career. The time machine finally gets it right and the band emerge opening the show with ‘The Spirit of Radio’. From the first song it was evident that there were about 15,000 pro air guitarists, air drummers and even air bassists in the arena, me included.

Next up was the synth classic ‘Time Stand Still’. As much as the synth era has been criticised I still love this song and hearing it played live was one of the highlights for me. ‘Presto’, ‘Stick it out’ and then from their most recent album ‘Snakes and Arrows’ we got ‘Workin’ Them Angels’... great song. It was then back to 1993 with the instrumental ‘Leave That Thing Alone’, giving Lee the chance to show off his brilliant bass skills.


After jumping straight back to 2007 with another off the ‘Snakes and Arrows’ album ‘Faithless’, we were then treated to a new song ‘BU2B’ (Brought up to Believe)... a heavy tune with great vocals. I am really looking forward to the new album ‘Clockwork Angels’ which should be released early 2011. It was then back to 1980 for ‘Freewill’, followed by ‘Marathon’ and the final song of the first set (another favourite of mine of the night and again from the synth era) ‘Subdivisions’.

After a short interval and change of clothes for the band it was time for round two, which started off with another crowd pleasing video. It was back to the time machine, with Rash playing ‘Tom Sawyer’. The time machine malfunctions morphing the band from teenagers, to pre-schoolers, to babies, to wizards, to cavemen, to chimpanzees, to the current members of Rush playing the wrong instruments (with Alex on Bass, Geddy on Drums, and Neil on Guitar) until finally Rush appear on stage.


Rush kicked off the second set with the band’s “radio song” ‘Tom Sawyer’, the first track from ‘Moving Pictures’. The band really did the album justice in a live setting... apart from a few technical issues with Alex’s amps during ‘YYZ’ and the opening to ‘Limelight’ it’s hard to fault the performance. The amp problems almost had the potential to set the show off its rails as ‘Limelight’ begins with just guitars but luckily something went right and the guitars cut back in after a couple of seconds and everything was back to normal. Next up was the eleven minute classic ‘The Camera Eye’, which hasn’t been played live since 1983 despite being one of the most requested songs to be played live by fans. The crowd was not disappointed to see this song finally make its way back into the set list. ‘Witch Hunt’ was next, and then another favourite of the night, the reggae influenced ‘Vital Signs’ to close the ‘Moving Pictures’ album.

“Well that was a whole record! Thirty years old that record now, how can a guy twenty nine have a record that’s been out thirty years?” said Geddy, sporting a Rash t-shirt. Moving forward we were treated with another newbie from the forthcoming album: ‘Caravan’. Complete with a real catchy riff it’s a song that sounds like you have known it for years (also like ‘BU2B’ on the heavy side but also has its mellow moments).


The night was not over, two and a half hours in and it was time for Neil Peart’s drum solo. Although Neil has a rotating drum riser, don’t expect to see him get elevated, strapped in and hang upside down like Tommy Lee but do expect to see five minutes of pure drumming genius. Solos can often go for too long and seem like a good time to run to the toilet but by no means was anyone leaving the arena for Neil’s drum solo. Rush are not your average musicians and they are very good at what they do, and after seeing Neil so easily put away the solo that he did I can confidently say he is one of the best there is.

An old classic ‘Closer to the Heart’ followed the drum solo. We then found ourselves at the Canada Air Drummers’ convention with ‘2112 Part 1: Overture’. It’s great to see a bunch of guys mostly over thirty beating away with their air drum sticks, not caring what they look like, just having fun. It’s hard to pick a favourite for the night but if I had to it would probably be the next track up ‘2112 Part 2: The Temples of Syrinx’. Rush finish the show with the ‘Snakes and Arrows’ favourite ‘Far Cry’ which also receives a great reception from the crowd.


By this stage we have been privileged to twenty three Rush songs, not twenty three punk songs that would have taken twenty three minutes to go through, but twenty three Rush songs which bring us close to three hours of music. But the encore is still to come and no one was in a rush to beat the traffic home. The encore begins with the nine minute instrumental ‘La Villa Strangiato’, a twelve part song from the ‘Hemispheres’ album that allows Alex to once again show off his guitar skills. Final song of the night was ‘Working Man’ which starts off with a reggae version of the 1974 classic.


The music was over but the show was not. While the band made their “getaway” the crowd got the “getaway” video which features Paul Rudd and Jason Segel from the movie ‘I Love You Man’. Very funny video and a great way to end the night.

All in all we had a great night: three hours of one of the best bands to ever come out of this city and we feel very privileged to have been a part of it. It really is hard to understand how this band has been around for more than forty years, produced so many timeless albums and yet still be a band that is almost ignored by the media. They may not have the dress sense of Lady Goo Goo, or the same amount of Twitter followers as Justin Bieber but they do have three of the best artists rock music has ever seen and the following that they do have wouldn’t want them any other way.


David Carruthers


The Spirit of Radio
Time Stand Still
Stick It Out
Workin' Them Angels
Leave That Thing Alone




Tom Sawyer
Red Barchetta
The Camera Eye
Witch Hunt
Vital Signs
Drum Solo
Closer to the Heart
2112 Part I: Overture
2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
Far Cry




La Villa Strangiato
Working Man


David Carruthers