Red Rocks Amphitheatre
June 25, 2008
While some fans may complain that Rush rarely mixes up their set list, no one in attendance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre seemed to mind the band playing nearly an identical set to the one they performed in Morrison just a year ago. Instead, the packed house stood and cheered loudly as this ultra talented trio proved they have yet to slow down after three plus decades on the road.
Rush took the stage following an amusing video intro, a brief glimpse at the multi-faceted spectacle that would continue throughout the performance. From the first chords of “Limelight,” each member of the trio beamed huge grins throughout the night, apparently having every bit as much fun as those in the audience. Geddy Lee quickly took control, mixing strong vocals with his dynamic bass, while also playing keyboard and bouncing across the stage with the energy and enthusiasm of a teenager playing his first show.
“Digital Man” followed, bringing guitarist Alex Lifeson to the forefront. While Lifeson is often known to take the stage with somewhat of a sourpuss look on his face, even he beamed joy as he masterfully led the band through a precise rendition that featured one of the best grooves the band would find all night.
“Mission” was equally impressive, particularly the monstrous instrumental crescendo that found each member of the trio performing at their absolute finest. With the winds whipping around the venue, lightening cracking overhead, and Neil Peart pounding his huge kit like a beast, it was amazing his drums did not topple right over. “Freewill” followed, setting the crowd off in frenzy as Geddy rushed to the very front of house, playing to the crowd every step of the way.
While each song of the night allowed the band ample room to display their instrumental prowess, “The Main Monkey Business,” an instrumental from the band’s 2007 CD Snakes & Arrows, showed Rush at their very finest. This was not only true instrumentally, but also visually, as the three screens behind the stage featured a hysterical video of primates ranging from King Kong to a horny pair of baboons in the midst of a full blown mating ritual, as well as a chef coming on stage to baste three commercial ovens of rotisserie chickens being cooked next to Peart’s drum kit.
The evening’s first set closed out with four huge crowd pleasers dating back to the band’s 80’s heyday – “Red Barchetta,” “The Trees,” Between the Wheels,” and “Dreamline,” as lasers and pyrotechnics were unleashed in full force.
While the band was a bit slower kicking in to gear for the second set, they seemed invigorated when the soundman cranked the volume for “The Way the Wind Blows,” launching in to the last hour of the show with renewed passion and vigor. Geddy was especially energetic throughout “Subdivisions,” starting the song at his keyboard, and later running from end to end of the stage pounding out bass lines that rattled throughout the venue. He continued to roam the stage throughout “Natural Science,” another impressive display that served as a perfect segue in to the instrumental “Malignant Narcissism,” complete with Peart’s revolving drum solo, during which the band seemed to say “watch us as we get our rocks off” as each member of the trio wailed away with a precision of which few bands could ever dream.
The final half hour of this three-plus hour show was pure musical bliss, starting with the hit “Spirit of the Radio.” The piece-de-resistance of the evening was an epic rendition of “2112: Overture/ The Temples of Syrinx,” culminating with the band’s biggest hit of all, “Tom Sawyer.”
Of all the videos shown throughout the night, the crowd reserved their biggest reaction for the Lil’ Rush skit, as South Park’s Cartman insisted he was Geddy Lee, yet just could not quite get the words right. Getting it right was hardly a matter of concern for the real Rush, whose performance was utterly infectious from beginning to end.
The encore consisted of “One Little Victory,” “Passage to Bancok,” and “YYZ,” but by that point, Rush had long since made their mark, impressing the crowd with one of the better performance they’ve offered in quite some time. Rush’s creative hey day may have come and gone 25 years ago, but this performance proved they remain a delightful, energetic band with a great deal left to offer their fan base.
Video Intro (features all 3 band members)
Ghost of a Chance
The Main Monkey Business
McKenzie Brothers intro >
The Larger Bowl
Between The Wheels
Video Intro (What’s That Smell? features all 3 members, Jerry Stiller)
Workin’ Them Angels
Armor And Sword
The Way The Wind Blows
Malignant Narcissism >
The Spirit of Radio
2112: Overture / The Temples of Syrinx
South Park Lil’ Rush intro >
One Little Victory
A Passage to Bangkok
Video Outro (Alex, Neil, Jerry Stiller)