Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rush & Me

Sometime in late 1981 or early 1982 I discovered a band that blew my mind.  One whose music and lyric sung to my heart and resonated with me ever since.  The band was Rush and the album that kicked it all off form me was Moving Pictures.  My Uncle Bob is 8 years my senior and my Cousin Steve is 4 years my senior.  These two introduced to most of the rock acts from the seventies and sixties.  However Rush was one of the first I discovered without either of them.  I am not saying neither knew of Rush, they did.  I just never heard it from them.  When most Rush biographers talk two albums are considered their seminal work.  The later of the two is Moving Pictures, the former being 2112.  So when my journey with the band started I chose well.  I followed with their live album Exit… Stage Left, then Signals and Grace Under Pressure.   I started to go back in their catalog first with 2112.  By the time I left the University of Oregon I had all their studio albums to that point, 1991.  After Counterparts in 1993, I drifted away.  I heard but did not buy their 2002 album Vapor Trails.  I was there for Feedback their cover EP in 2004. It was not until 2011 did I go back and get caught up with all their studio albums.  I still do not own all their live albums.  I started to want to look back at my history with this band after I heard they were to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.  I also finally was able to get tickets to a concert of theirs after 32 years of being a fan. 

What is it about Rush that I love?  Musically they can go from complex to simple in a flash.  Their mastery of their instruments especially Neil Peart, the drummer, is beyond anything.  They have one of the tightest rhythm sections in all of Rock.  They never rest on their laurel their music changes with the time and them, but do not lose their core identity.  Geddy Lee is incredibly talented being able to sing, play bass and keyboards with in the same song not always at the same time.  Neil Peart is a drumming machine; he grasps complex syncopations and rhythms.  Alex Lifeson complements the others whereas other guitarists would take over the spotlight.  With Rush one can truly say they are the sum of their parts.  It would not be the same without any one member.  This is extremely evident if you listen to their debut Album Rush.  That album is the only album in which Neil Peart was not on.  If you listen to their next Album Fly By Night, the first album with Peart, you can see the foundation that followed the band throughout their career. 

Thematically their early music was like a lot of Hard Rock in the Seventies, in that there were a great deal of Fantasy and Science Fiction References.  This is even more so since many consider Rush Progressive or Prog Rock.  In that Genre of Fantasy and Science Fiction themes and stories are abundant.  There are also many songs that cover the subjects of individualism, self determination and struggle of the Individual versus the desires of the group.  Neil Peart is the primary Lyricist and even though he did not have any higher education, he grasps many philosophical and political concepts.  He is proof that education does not always equal intelligence.  Their songs also handle personal responsibility and how we perceive things in society, media and popular culture.  Musically they have traversed various genres, Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Funk, Synth Pop, Techno and so much more.  Not only are they innovators, but they have taken styles of the day and put their spin on them.

I went to their show at the Clark County Amphitheater in Clark County, Washington on July the 28th, 2013.  I went with my brother Mike and my Uncle Bob.  Before the show Mike and I watched the Induction of Rush to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Taylor Hawkins of The Foo Fighters said that Neil Peart’s drumming was melodic.  Neil proved that in the show with a song called Percussor.  The song replaced drum beats with notes.  It was a phenomenal piece proving what most Rush fans already knew.  He proved it before with YYZ which the opening notes and rhythm is the Morse code for Toronto’s Airport which YYZ is its designation.  Toronto is Rush’s home.  They played nine of the twelve songs from Clockwork Angels, their newest album.  That album has a string section and that section played at the show.  They played on YYZ, The Manhattan Project and few other classic songs as well as the new stuff.  I have not been to many big time concerts in my life, but this was a pinnacle.  I did not have a dry eye towards the end.  I just could not believe I finally got to see them.  It was worth every penny, Canadian and American.  That IS My Not So Humble Opinion.

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