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Rush proves its durability in Alpharetta

slideshow_1001695346_JLG_03Rush has always been special – a trio that projects a sound worthy of a quintet and is able to attract fans to its live show because of the lengthy drum solo.

They’re also one of the most polarizing outfits in rock. The die-hards remain so because they savor the lengthy songs, the winding chord progressions and time changes and the utter uniqueness of Geddy Lee’s voice.

The detractors see those same traits as a) boring and b) annoying.

Click here for photos from Wednesday’s Rush concert.

But a band that is 30-plus years into its career doesn’t need to worry about winning new fans. The faithful – about 12,000 of them proudly displayed their Rush T-shirts and jackets at Wednesday’s sold-out show in Alpharetta – are always willing to play air drums, rabidly cheer Lee’s robust bass jams and give a middle finger to anyone to doesn’t appreciate one of the most successful prog-rock bands in rock history.

During its three-hour (including intermission) concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drumming god Neil Peart exhausted themselves with one set full of favorites and another that included 1981’s “Moving Pictures” album played in its entirety.

Even though Rush isn’t an overly mobile band – the synthesizers frequently played by Lifeson and Lee during certain songs prevented any significant movement — for guys staring down 60, they impressed with a taut, tireless show. And keep in mind that this “Time Machine” tour has been rolling since July and will end its U.S. run this weekend (then head to South America for a handful of shows).

While Rush always has been firmly about musical prowess, the band’s sense of humor peeked through in a couple of videos that opened each set, acting as a slick segue into the live versions of the songs being played onscreen.

Under a platoon of lights and in front of a massive video screen, the trio slashed through “The Spirit of Radio,” “Time Stand Still” and “Presto” with veteran aplomb.

Lee, who still looks like Bono’s lankier cousin, has taken good care of his yelp of a voice that mostly hit the high notes all night (a few key changes aided the more difficult reaches in “Tom Sawyer”).

Peart, meanwhile, demonstrated from the first cymbal crashes that he isn’t about to relinquish his crown as the king of the sticksmen, as he sat behind his workshop of drums spinning his sticks and nimbly navigating some truly awesome drum fills.

Of course, with iconic bands such as Rush, the tendency is to revere them regardless of their output – sort of a reward, perhaps, for outlasting the competition. But while their classics are, indeed, mini musical epics, that doesn’t mean that some songs, such as “Stick It Out,” don’t get mired in prog-rock pretension.

Still, the band has consistently crafted a significant number of durable songs notable not for their catchy choruses or melodies, but for interesting musicianship. And, judging from the new “BU2B,” from the upcoming “Clockwork Angels” release, Rush isn’t going quietly.

From the whizzing “Subdivisions” to the crunchy “Red Barchetta,” the semi-poppy “Freewill” to the muscular instrumental “Leave That Thing Alone,” Rush demonstrated that experience does not, in fact, slip away.

29 comments Add your comment

Music Fan

September 30th, 2010
1:47 am

I was there tonight. By far the best concert of my life (and this was my first Rush concert). Un- freaking believable. These guys are at the top of their game. Can’t wait until they return!

johndawg

September 30th, 2010
8:36 am

Good, honest account of the show… Great entry…. Great show last night.

Stephen

September 30th, 2010
11:02 am

Good review…that was the most packed I’ve seen a lawn at an Atlanta-area show in quite some time… I’m wondering if they didn’t squeeze a few extra folks in beyond the venue’s stated 12,000 capacity?

Rick

September 30th, 2010
11:14 am

This was my ninth Rush show, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Went with a friend who had never seen them live, and he loved it too. Great job guys! Hope to see you back in Atlanta in a couple of years.

Music Fan

September 30th, 2010
11:49 am

I had the opportunity to re-read the review today and I must say that it is one of the most thoughtful and best-written pieces I’ve seen in the AJC in a long time. Congratulations. You captured the essence of the concert and didn’t fall into the typical AJC mode of either being nasty or just rehashing the info found on Wikipedia. Real journalism from the AJC. Whoulda thunk? Nice work, Melissa Ruggieri!

Don

September 30th, 2010
11:51 am

I’ve seen the band 9 times. Great show as usual. Took 2 teenage fans for their first concert. Only mistake is that now they will compair any other concert they see to this one. No one stands a chance

Shawny

September 30th, 2010
1:05 pm

Seen them maybe 12 times.
Best rock band, recorded or live, ever.
Period.

TOUR'84

September 30th, 2010
2:21 pm

Seen these guys since the Signals tour, and I have to say last night was the best show I can remember in quite a long time! Not that I’ve been *disappointed*, but last night just stood out. Geddy’s voice was spot on (even hitting the highs in Freewill), Alex nailed his solos, and so did Neil! They were playing with such CONVICTION!
The set list was great – even the songs I had grown a bit tired of blew me away (like Presto, Stick It Out (I have to wholeheartedly disagree with the columnist’s hackneyed assertion of it being “mired in prog-rock pretention.” That song is seamless!), and Time Stand Still). The videos were hilarious, especially seeing the guys imitate each other during the video for Tom Sawyer! The new tracks are just earth-shattering. Huge. Those riffs must’ve carried for miles! The Working Man jam was intense. And how about hearing MP, including The Camera Eye (which I have never heard live in person)!!! It was incredible.
Now if they’d just bring back Force Ten, Distant Early Warning, The Big Money…hell, the way Ged is singing they could play Bastille Day! I was missing One Little Victory as well. But hey, with such a vast catalog, there will always be songs left behind.
Or…perhaps they could extend the show by another hour or so :)

Heavy D

September 30th, 2010
2:27 pm

I am ashamed to say that afeter listening to Rush for 25+ years, last night was my 1st time seeing them in concert. Phenominal show, un-freekin believable. Neal Peart was amazing, Alex Lifeson played flawlessly and Geddy…need I say more. Thanks Rush for an awesome time last night!

Don

September 30th, 2010
2:34 pm

Rush not going quietly? They are better now than ever. No band out there displays this level of musicianship, NO BAND! Long live the kings of rock.

Andy

September 30th, 2010
4:22 pm

Not seen them on this tour yet (I live in the UK), but am hopeful that they`ll visit next year.

Just when I thought they`d start to “fade” and never get the publicity they so richly deserve, Rush seem to be more popular than ever.

They are an amazing talent. They just can`t stop thinking big !

Steviestet

September 30th, 2010
4:46 pm

OUTSTANDING show!! Well worth the drive from Savannah. Come back soon guys.

Steve29376

September 30th, 2010
6:29 pm

ANOTHER AMAZING PERFORMANCE by the Masters! All hail Geddy, Alex and Neil! Saw them twice this tour…Columbus and here. They will play on forever!

Jay in NC

September 30th, 2010
6:33 pm

Very nice review. Saw them in Bristow, VA on the 18th. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will remain clueless until this band is inducted. Check this FB page if you feel the same way.http://www.facebook.com/?sk=2361831622#!/group.php?gid=377079720858

Bruce in Philly, PA

September 30th, 2010
9:00 pm

Great article, Melissa, and nice ending paraphrasing “Time Stand Still” as well! Saw Rush when they were here in July and they pulled NO punches; it sounds as though they’re holding up well. Thanks!

Mike

September 30th, 2010
9:03 pm

Took my fifteen year old son to his first ever rock concert last night, man did I pick a show or what! He wore my twenty year old RUSH tee shirt from the Presto Tour that I attended and sang along to all the great songs just as I have in the past. It was such a special night, thanks guys you were fantastic! Neil was throw’n the sticks. Ged was thump’n that Fender and Alex just ripped it up ALL night, especially on Working Man, awesome.
We went away awe struck and of course with another RUSH tee………..
RUSH rules, still!

Craig

September 30th, 2010
9:04 pm

And this band continues to have no shot at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What?? And the Pretenders and Patti Smith are in? I am a huge Jethro Tull fan, and while I realize (despite how I feel they belong as well) that a lot of people just don’t get them, how anyone feels this isn’t one of the top rock bands of the last 30 years is just beyond me. Last night was tremendous, and like Geddy said, “We have 100 songs we can pick from”. How many can really say that?

Joanna Huett

September 30th, 2010
9:22 pm

Of the five Rush shows I’ve seen through the years starting with “Counterparts,” this was the best. They’re all good, mind you, but this one just shined unlike any I’ve seen. The band was at their best and the effects, including the lighting that tilted, raised and lowered like a spaceship, were incredible. The set list was perfect, touching on songs I haven’t heard live in years, including “Stick It Out” from “Counterparts.” And “Moving Pictures” blew me away. I’ve had “The Camera Eye” on my mind all day.

And you gotta love the fans. People I didn’t know were high-fiving me as we rode the wave of sound.

Screw the Rock Hall of Fame. Rush, like its fans, blazes its own trails. Long live Rush!

Joanna Huett

September 30th, 2010
9:25 pm

Oh, and thanks AJC for giving these guys lots of attention with the review and the photos. Too often, these guys are snubbed.

Chip Caray

September 30th, 2010
10:11 pm

Great article and fitting tribute to a great band. Yeah, they’ve been snubbed by the Rock and Roll HOF, but, hey, their “pride in purpose in the unrewarding job” makes me appreciate them all the more.
Great show…can’t wait for the upcoming CD.
Thanks for great memories and a soundtrack for the last 20 years!

Alan Back

October 1st, 2010
12:07 am

I don’t know which is the bigger compliment: that there are bands half the age of Geddy, Alex, and Neil who want to play they way they do now, or that these three can still play as well as they did 30 years ago. I drove through rain to and from this concert, but for a show like this, I’d have bulldozed my way through at least a Category 3 hurricane.

gttim

October 1st, 2010
8:14 am

I have been seeing concerts by Rush since the ‘79 Hemispheres’ tour. This one may have been the best. Alex was just on fire! I am a bass player, but Alex really stole my attention all night. The whole show from lights, to video to the music is just top notch. Rush still shows the other bands how it is properly done.

doug calabrese

October 1st, 2010
10:46 am

drove in from tupelo ms. greatest concert ever. took wife and 11 yearold son he has got to be rush’s biggest fan RUSH RULES !!!!! THE GREATEST BAND ON EARTH

Brew & O

October 1st, 2010
7:53 pm

the show was fabufu#%ingtastic!! ! ! ! ! my boy and I have been to the last two shows of Snakes N Arrows and now this venue for Time Machine…….wonderful to hear the never before played “Moving Pictures” album played in its entirety. La villa Strangiato was the icing on the cake. Everything about the show was something that is going to be difficult to improve upon…..but the Holy Triumvirate will do just that. Loved it.

Buskrush

October 2nd, 2010
3:18 am

I saw Rush from the front row for their Power Windows tour in ‘86 and was awestruck. Saw them again twice during their Snakes & Arrows tour and again was amazed. Then came the Time Machine tour making a stop in Alpharetta. What a show it was! Cool weather, a bit of a breeze, and Moving Pictures seamlessly played in its entirety. I was also impressed that Lerxt, Ged and Neil included some more obscure pieces such as “Stick it Out” and “Marathon”. I raise my glass also to the video and lighting crew for providing a visual element to the music.

Jenn morales !!

October 3rd, 2010
1:50 pm

The show was awesome !! not at all upset to get lawn , I do wish there would of been a release . thats all just a roll of the dice . I was there and I meet some really awesome people and Georgia was just beautiful. I still enjoyed the show can’t stop a Rush fan even from the lawn ! Peace N lOVE -RUSH on , Jenn

kellie polzin

October 3rd, 2010
5:00 pm

This show like all other RUSH shows b4 was amazing. Thanks to the band for giving us all REAL talent and REAL music. I will always see them whenever they are playing anywhere that I can get to. And as for the hall of fame…they are not a credible organization. RUSH fans have proven over the years the support for the band and clearly the band doesn’t need that so called honor they STILL they sell-out shows, they are still current, and still vital, quite frankly the hall of fame isn’t worthy of RUSH.!!! Bands coming up today should take a lesson from the masters. RUSH has handled themselves artistically, intelligently in staying true to form. True talent and the aforementioned virtues are what keep a band together and produce REAL MUSIC ART. THANKS RUSH!!!!!

Jeff A.

October 3rd, 2010
11:51 pm

Its seems that every time i see Rush in concert they get better. I love the music so much and it gives me alot of joy. Its the only concert that i know every word to every song that they play. I have been a Rush fan from the beginning. Long live Rush. The Atlanta show was flawless.

Sandy

October 5th, 2010
2:18 am

My husband is crazy about you guys that he even has a big tatoo on leg saying RUSH, I am ok with music just not with his obsession with your group, such inmaturity, but you guys will have a fan for life. just letting you know you have a number one fan in my home that puts you guys over anything and anyone else.