The Canadian giants, who next month will be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, broke the habit of a lifetime when they hired a string section to join them on stage for their Clockwork Angels world tour.
The results have even surprised the band – although they were initially concerned that fans might not welcome the move.
Lee tells On The Air With Eddie Trunk: “We had orchestration on four or five of the songs, and we thought it would be a little more authentic bringing real strings as opposed to using our technology.
“We rehearsed with the technology and we could have done it without the live thing. But we’d always talked about doing it, and it was like, ‘Let’s stop talking and just do it.’ It expanded from those four or five songs to all the songs in the Clockwork Angels part of the set, plus it bled over into some older songs we’d always wanted to do with strings.”
The frontman admits Rush were “a little bit nervous in terms of whether fans would like having all those people on stage with us” – but that it’s “turned into quite a positive.”
And he’s delighted at how it’s opened up new possibilities for his own live performance, because he doesn’t have to carry out additional duties such as playing keyboards. “At first they were like, ‘Do you want us to sit quietly?’” he recalls. “We said, ‘Knock yourself out – have fun!’ They’ve really taken that to heart. When the band comes in they join in and rock it up.
“It’s a big help to me. I have more fun – and that’s the idea. It’s nice to have the freedom.
Guitarist Alex Lifeson agrees. “They love the fact they’re on this tour together, playing with more freedom that they normally wouldn’t have,” he reflects. “We connect with them and have a lot of fun.”
With a renewed energy alongside fans’ excitement over their Rock Hall induction, Lee says it would be futile for Rush to consider winding down any time soon.
He says: “I think it’s foolish to look too far into the future with a band like us. We really dig each other as friends and writing partners. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Neil as happy as he is on this tour. It demeans the whole thing to try to predict the end. Let’s say we’re happy right now and we’ll see how it all goes.”
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