Wednesday, 6th October 2007
The Arena, Sheffield, UK
Article & Live photos from Sheffield By Andy Brailsford
Wednesday, 17th October 2007
Ahoy, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Article By Renť van Geest & Bart Jan van der Vorst
Live Photos from Rotterdam by Bart Jan van der Vorst
Friday, 5th October 2007
The Metro Radio Arena
Article By Bob Mulvey
Editorial note: The concert Reviews section is the one section on DPRP where we encourage people to send in their own reviews. The second of the reviews on this page has been submitted by a reader. Given the somewhat unorthodox nature of the review we want to stress that this is a reader's opinion, and not that of DPRP nor its reviewers.
I always feel a sense of smug satisfaction when I see a band like Rush, the fact that they have been going as long as they have and they can still pull crowds like tonight, into arenas such as this, tells me that the new kids on the block certainly donít have it all their own way. True, a large percentage of the audience were somewhat past their teens, but there was still a healthy amount of younger attendees that tells me this type of music will be appreciated for years to come.
So, Rush are back at Sheffield after an absence of three years, (I didnít realise it was that long), to promote their new album Snakes And Arrows. And I had heard on the grapevine that they would be doing quite a lot from that album on this tour, which sort of made me think ĎMmmmí because, and I make no apology for this, I am an old Rush fan, and I really like the old stuff. (I now find myself thinking of Counterparts and Test For Echo, which were both pretty naff, the thought of ĎDog Yearsí putting a shiver of horror down my spine). However, I also think that Snakes And Arrows is the best album Rush have done for some time, and they always put on a big show, and I have found over the years that the stuff that doesnít particularly hit me on CD when I hear it, usually comes to life when I hear it performed on stage, and tonight was no different.
After a somewhat psychedelic intro video which terminated with Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart waking up beside each other in bed, and the brilliant and funny Scottish alter ego of Geddy Lee, (he really should try acting), I was particularly pleased to see Rush come onstage and play Limelight, Digital Man and Entre Nous as the opening three numbers from 1981, 82 and 80 respectively. Definitely old enough stuff. And then they continued with Mission, (87), and Freewill (80), and I began to wonder if I had heard wrong. I hadnít, and we then came right up to date with Main Monkey Business and The Larger Bowl, which didnít sound bad at all. We then went back three years for Secret Touch from Vapor Trails before going back further into the mists of time with Circumstances. So far in this half the old stuff was winning hands down. The first half ended with Between The Wheels, which was the first time I noticed the light pods come down, (I was taking pictures when they came down the first time during Digital Man and didnít see them hovering just a few feet above my head. I did however think, Ďwhere has all this light come from ???í), followed by Dreamline which had a fine display of laser technology.
After drinks and catching our breaths, the band came back on stage after 30 minutes at 9:20 and after a game of Snakes and Arrows on the big screen they gave us lots of Snakes and Arrows musically. Far Cry, Workin' Them Angels, Armor And Sword, Spindrift and The Way The Wind Blows came one after the other, which I thought a little unusual at first but on second thoughts they probably had more impact being grouped together in this way. Out of this group I was probably least impressed by Armor And Sword which just didnít seem to have as much balls as the other new songs.
Continuing on then, I was delighted to hear Subdivisions in all its glory as it has always been a favourite of mine, followed by Natural Science and then Witch Hunt which is also one of my favourites. We then had another new song with Malignant Narcissism, with its myriad lights and flames, and this song also incorporated the now traditional Neil Peart drum solo. Now Iím not a big drum solo fan, but you have to take your hat off to Peart as he is a master of his art, and as usual he illustrates where his heart really lies by finishing his stint with a full 40s era big band bash, albeit on video. The tempo then came down a little with Alex Lifesonís 12 string acoustic rendition of Hope before the whole thing swung back up again with Distant Early Warning, Spirit Of Radio and Tom Sawyer which had a brilliant South Park video intro. This then ended the main set at 10:40 and after just a couple of minutes the band were back on stage with One Little Victory complete with dragon and flames, Passage To Bangkok and YYZ with more dramatic use of lasers and lights.
Now that Rush are getting the hang of coming to the UK more regularly, rather than waiting many years between tours, I would hope to see them back here within another couple of years, and I suggest you do too.
If you are a Rush fan, then donít read further. Reading this might damage your health. I have warned you!!
I have to admit; I am not a Rush fan. You will find no CDís of these guys in my big CD collection. But, they seem to be a big act, so as a prog-rocker you have to see them, even once in your lifetime. I can say, beforehand, that I wonít visit another concert of them again ...
A week earlier I visited a show of Dream Theater in the same venue. During the Rush show my thought wondered of to the Dream Theater guys. They were really greatÖ.
The stage of Rush looked impressive. 3 giant video screens, a lot of lights, on both sides of the stage about 50 huge speakers and 3 ovens with dozens chickens in it. I am still wondering why they where there. Maybe they threw the chickens in the audience at the end of the show. But thatís something I will never know. I didnít make it to the end of the show.
Roundabout 8 PM there was a Ďmovieí projected on the huge screens. In it were the 3 Rush guys as Ďactorsí. Cute, such a home video. Then the first song started, after which my ears screamed for help. Dream Theater was loud, but this was worse than a starting Boeing. I wonít complain about this anymore, I knew they play loud, but then again ... why this loud?
Iíll write some thoughts about the 3 band members separately. During the concert all kind of ideas floated to the surface.
First of all the bass player/ísingerí, Geddy Lee. He can play the bass OK, but as soon as he opens his mouth the hairs on my back rose to the ceiling. He sounded like a male Kate Bush. What an irritating voice. I didnít understood a word. Only Ďdank u welí (thank you, in Dutch) was understandable. If you compare this with James Labrie (not the best singer around ...) of last week, Lee was very weak.
He tried to play the keyboard now and then. Anybody, after following two weeks of an Internet keyboard course, can play as good. Lee is clearly not a master of the keys. Take Jordan Rudess, thatís how you play the keyboards, he is phenomenal!!
The moments that Lee didnít touch the keyboard and shut his mouth he reached an average level on his bass. The way he picked his snares reminded me of Mark King (Level 42). Not bad, but compared to John Myung, Lee is a Ford and Myung a Lamborghini.
On the edge of the stage Lee tried to swing a little on the Music, but it looked like a bad Mr. Bean dance (sorry Mr. Bean). A few attempts to level Pete Townsends jump strength failed too. My (humble) advice; look for a decent singer, a keyboard player and let Lee play his bass and keep his mouth closed.
(Iím afraid the Rush fans can drink my blood by now ... Maybe I am exaggerating a little, but these are my thoughts. You are free to submit an review too!!)
Then the guitar player, Alex Lifeson. He looks like a nice guy. He played decent, but the tones were very shrill, they punished my ears even more. He did his best, but he couldnít make an impression. Take John Petrucci, he is Lifeson times five. What a power and speed produces this man, terrific.
Finally, the drum player, Neil Part. He was the best of the 3 Rush members. Great drumming! He made a mistake by playing a solo. His a sampled
drum kit looked more like a circus act than a drum solo. Maybe thatís why the kit was positioned on a turning platform. But still his work was of a reasonable level. But also he loses the battle from his opponent Mike Portnoy. Neil is a adequate drum player, but a smile was to much to ask. Maybe he did not liked playing with his buddies ...
These three guys score a 4, a 6 and a 7 (on a scale of 10). Not a good score for a band that is supposed to be one of the best. Iím wondering why they are considered to be so good. Rush is just an average band. I was not alone in this, most of the audience around me applauded politely and short.
Only the real die-hard fans upfront seemed to appreciate the show (were they paid??). Talking about the show, that was OK. Nice lighting, only the lasers, explosions and flame throwers were outdated. That was nice in the 1970s and 1980s, but not anymore. On the video screens the images were very nice. The members were filmed very good, unfortunately the sounds was out of sync with the images. The computer animations were probably very artistic but had nothing to do with the music. It distracted somewhat from the rest of the show, but that was a plus!!
Before the first encore I went home, disappointed. I had to give my ears some rest. I was as cooked as the chickens in the ovens.
No, I am not convinced by Rush. This evening was not total waste of time, it made me appreciate Dream Theater even more. Thanks for that!
BTW If you think this review sucks, then write another one. Convince me I am wrong ...
Well, I don't know if it is up to me to convince Rene wrong, as I am not much of a Rush fan either. I have never been able to get into their sound, mainly because of the sound of Geddy Lee's voice.
However, reading the above I do wonder if we were both at the same gig. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, despite being unfamiliar with most of the songs played. I too was at the Dream Theater gig the week before and to compare the two is just idiocy. Each to his own opinion, but this is like comparing apples with pears, though without Rush there would never even be a Dream Theater. Apples and apple-sauce would even be a better way to describe the non-comparison. Dream Theater excells in technical playing and their indulgent musical wankery is the main draw of a live show. Rush is far less focused on the technical aspect of their music and for them it is all about going out and having fun to play live. The humour and camaraderie Rush displayed on stage is largely absent from Dream Theater gigs (or other prog bands for that matter). Does that make one better than the other? Not at all, but it does make that these two bands have a completely different approach to playing live and should therefore not be compared, because there is no point.
So when I found out that Rush would come to Europe once again I figured it was time I'd go and see them. Apparently the Rush gig in 2004 was quite a happening, so I didn't want to miss their possibly last ever European tour.
Not knowing what to expect I have to say that unlike Rene I was very pleasantly surprised. A terrific stage show with the seventies style excesses that have disappeared from most bands' shows: lasers, lights, fireworks, moving lighting rigs, revolving drum kit, et cetera...
The band clearly has a lot of fun onstage and doesn't take themselves too seriously. Many a song was introduced by a little movie, involving the band, or Canada, or both! Tom Sawyer even had an intro film with the characters of South Park!
The stage was filled with silly things, like a collection of barbie dolls and dinosaurs around Alex Lifeson's pedals and amps, and three chicken grills served as Geddy Lee's amps. (during the course of the concert a chef several times checked on the chickens and added additional oil).
The sound was excellent, loud and heavy on the bass, but not overkill. And the band seemingly flawless. Geddy Lee still has the voice of a 12 year-old, and amazingly the energy level too! Bouncing up and down and around the stage when not singing (and very difficult to photograph too). He also has a very odd way of playing the bass, using neither a pick nor classic bass techniques. Alex Lifeson may have more freedom to walk around the stage, but he does so much less frantically. His body and face remain calm throughout, while his fingers fly over the fretwork.
And Neil Peart is simply an amazing drummer, sitting behind his kit very calmly, but hitting the drums as if his life depends on it. His drum solo was perhaps a tad superfluous, although I liked the bit which he played in his electronic second kit which was revealed by rotating his kit around (a whole second drum kit only there for a 2 minute solo!)
All in all it was a very good night out.
I can't say this show renewed my interest in revisiting the band's backcatalogue, but I certainly will be buying the new DVD which was filmed at last night's show once it comes.
At the end of Rene's concert review he threw down the challenge to anyone to convince him he was wrong. Well I have no intentions of trying to do so, as his opinions are his opinions. I doubt I could anyway! On top of that there were parts of his review that rang a little bell inside of me. Although I do have many of Rush's albums in my collection, by no means do I have them all. And when it came to abandoning my vinyl collection some years ago, and making the change to CD, there were era's in Rush's history I omitted to re-buy. Certainly A Farewell To Kings re-appeared as did their halcyon period (at least by my ears) of Hemispheres, Moving Pictures, Permanent Waves and Signals.
To many Rush can do little wrong, for me they are a band I have enjoyed over the years, but could never call myself a true fan... The opportunity, however, to catch them finally in concert was something not to be missed, and along with an old friend (a die hard Rush fan) we booked our tickets online, several months in advance. The venue for our Rush 2007 concert was the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK). Not, I must hasten to add, one of my favourite venues - mainly due to the rather cavernous sound and relatively poor viewing for staged concerts. Probably more suited to performances on ice, (as it is fact used for), where presumably the all-round tiered seating is more suitable.
Reading Rene's review I gather the "stage set" remained the same throughout the tour, as might be expected. The large screens proving very impressive and due to my seat in the venue fairly essential. The vast array of moving head, effects lighting and lasers were also top notch and certainly the lighting was a mini event in itself.
The sound was not so brilliant, (mainly due to the acoustics of the venue), but certainly more than acceptable, capturing the power and essence of a "stadium band" without destroying my hearing. Only as the evening wore on did the volume creep up and therefore lost the definition of the band's sound. A shame really as with the amount of audio technology available, (and used), you would hope that this would be a thing of the past. But ultimately there is still one man behind the desk! Just a side note here. I also caught Dream Theater (in the UK) during their 2007 tour and their sound was the worst I had experienced in years. Loud and distorted beyond recognition. So it only shows how variable the quality of sound can change from venue to venue (or even in the same venue) and we should not therefore blame the band's for this. Poor sound being a bone of contention for me over the years.
Bearing in mind that this was a massive stage and occupied by only these three musicians, I was certainly glad of the three large screens, (I was a fair distance from the stage), which made the show more accessible, allowing me and the audience close ups of the band. Inter-cut with these close-ups were a number of videos, stills and even cartoon caricatures which in turn added to the overall spectacle of the show. The "South Park" cartoon which preceded Tom Sawyer was particularly fun - in fact I enjoyed much of the theatre that surrounded the whole show. Although I'd like someone to explain the chickens :?)
[the chickens are a joke by Geddy Lee, to balance the huge stack of amps Alex Lifeson has onstage. As Lee doesn't need all this equipment, there would simply be a large hole behind him, so as a joke he decided to place large objects behind him so he could be just like his good buddy Alex. For the previous tour he had industrial dryers behind him. Occasionally a women would come out with a laundry basket and remove some laundry. This tour it was
of course, the chickens. So its all a joke. (ed.)]
I don't plan to offer comment on the individual tracks, as mentioned earlier I'm not 100% familiar with all of Rush's material. I can say however that the music was impeccably played and certainly my admiration for these guys grew as the performance progressed. I suppose my disappointment with the concert lay with the material, and again this could be a lack of familiarity, however, I found a sizable proportion of the two sets very "samey". Along with this, much of the material was on the intense side, with little in the way respite. Alex Lifeson's acoustic pieces serving as the ebb against the flow. So perhaps I should look to my highlights, and gauging the rest of the audiences reactions, theirs to. Limelight got the evening off to a great start, followed nicely by Digital Man. Entre Nous was a pleasant surprise and certainly the chorus line of Freewill had the audience joining in.
It was only to be expected that Snakes & Arrows featured strongly on the evening, however, and this may well have been part of my problem with the evening, I have not warmed to this album. Despite numerous playings before the concert, only The Main Monkey Business really stood out for me. Also I'm not sure how familiar the audience was with the new material as I have to say, the biggest cheers of the evening surrounded those tracks from the Rush albums of the late 70s early 80s. Subdivisions, Natural Science, Witch Hunt, Tom Sawyer and Spirit Of The Radio were all rapturously greeted and certainly these were the high spots of the evening for me. With Tom Sawyer, we saw Geddy Lee ensconced behind his keyboard array and with the thunderous bass-pedals vibrating the vast auditorium - this was Rush at it's finest. The sound was also much fuller here and the noticeable "un-played parts" added immensely to the track. The close-ups of Alex Lifeson during Spirit Of The Radio were also great.
Neil Peart's drum solo - again I am not an avid fan of drum solos - however Neil made his interesting and entertaining. The "big band" inter-cut sections being a nice touch. With A Passage To Bangkok and YYZ the concert finished on a real high note.
I spoke to several people after the concert - most of whom were ardent Rush fans (marked by their Snakes & Arrows tour T-Shirts) and none had an unkind word about the concert - including my travelling companion. My lasting memories of the concert will therefore be very favourable, although I doubt this will be my favourite concert from 2007, I am certainly glad I went.
The Main Monkey Business
The Larger Bowl
Between The Wheels
Workin' Them Angels
Armor And Sword
The Way The Wind Blows
Distant Early Warning
The Spirit Of Radio
One Little Victory
A Passage to Bangkok
Rush Official Website