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Rush: total sensory bombardment

12 Oct 2007 / in music and gigs

My husband Moth is a huge fan of Canadian rock band Rush. After Moth and I first got together, he played me some Rush, who had disappeared off my musical radar about 20 years before. And they sounded much better than I remembered.

There’s only three of them in the band – Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart – but if you listen to their work, recorded or live, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there must be at least eight musicians on stage, such is the size of their sound, their depth, complexity and musicianship.

We went to see them play Wembley arena on 10 October, the second of two nights at the venue. Their ability to fill Wembley two nights on the trot is testament to their huge following.. They have produced many albums over the past 30 years and I’m not that familiar with their work I couldn’t sing along, for example, but I’d seen them play live on DVD so I knew I’d be in for a good show. A very good show, as it happens!

Rush give their fans a total sensory experience. Not only do you get pulled into the show by the massive waves of urgent sound pumping into your head, the images shown on three giant screens above the stage show both live pictures of each musician, but also short films to help the listener consider each song more closely.

The songs are carefully crafted both musically and lyrically; Rush appear to be naturalist/atheists like me, with a strong sense of social justice and humanity. But that’s not to say they haven’t got a sense of humour – they most certainly have! Their creativity and sense of the ridiculous is amply illustrated in the short films and the randomness of the props on stage: a row of plastic dinosaurs lined up on the monitors behind guitarist Alex Lifeson, and three rotisseries complete with revolving chickens are the backdrop to bassist and keyboard player Geddy Lee.

But there is more. As well as the music, the big screens, and the filmclip of South Park characters Rush give you a no-expenses-spared light show rivalled only, perhaps, by the aurora borealis.

Lasers, fireworks, fireballs and strobes complete the sensory bombardment.
But there is still more. All this technical, electronic, audio visual wizardry pales into nothingness when compared to the talents of Neil Peart, Rush’s lyricist and drummer.

It was a privilege to see him play; I don’t think I’m overstating it to call him the finest drummer in the world.

Wow! What a gig!

Photos: Moth Clark

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