Only getting better with age

So many of the bands that formed or were on top of their game through the late 60s to early 80s no longer exist.

Sure, their music may live on but the majority have been swallowed by the annals of time. In the case of Canadian progressive rock power trio Rush, however, they have been able to survive 35 plus years by playing the music they love and keeping ahead of the curve, not conforming to any popular or commercial standards, and hence creating a loyal fanbase that gladly support them through all the good and bad times from their formation right to this day. In 2011 the band embarked on their Time Machine tour on which they played their 1981 album Moving Pictures, a release that many consider their defining moment, as well as plenty of old and new. Their stop in Cleveland Ohio was captured for this new live release.

The crowd roars as that iconic guitar linefrom “The Spirit of Radio” hits the air and you can feel the energy coming from both the stage and the crowd flowing out with a happy vibe and energy emanating across this evening in Cleveland – a city that showed Rush plenty of love in their earlier days and it seems just as much so all these years on. Instead of going the route of their surviving contemporaries and playing just the “hits”, Rush have mixed up the setlist on the Time Machine tour with a little bit of everything.

In the first of three sets, they go through some songs that haven’t been aired in quite a while such as “Presto”, their mid 90s foray into grungier rock in the stomping yet tongue-in-cheek “Stick it Out” – where Alex Lifeson churns out some chunky drop D riffs – the anthemic “Free Will” and the ominous “Subdivisions”. There’s also some from their questionable late 80s period where they abandoned their guitars for more synthesizers but revamped here with more guitar work, a pair from 2007’s Snakes And Arrows and “BU2B”, one of two songs from their upcoming release Clockwork Angels.

The next set is the entire Moving Pictures album played in full and you can hear the crowd go bananas as “Tom Sawyer”, the song that many people know Rush for, hits, with everyone singing their hearts out to every word. That momentum carries on through tracks like mind-bending instrumental “YYZ” and their ode to fame, the biographical “Limelight”.

Rush’s third set opens with the second preview from Clockwork Angels, “Caravan”, a twisting and atmospheric piece that is a good sign of things to come. This is where Rush get to really flex their musical arms with “Moto Perpetuo”, Neal Peart’s innovative drum solo that puts most drummers to shame wherein he shifts through tribal, jazz, rock and all points in between, and “O’Malley’s Break” where Lifeson brings out the acoustic guitars for a beautiful and lush yet brief instrumental solo piece that segues into one of their most loved tracks, “Closer to the Heart”. The crowd is then transported into the mid-70s as the spacey sounds hit the air and the band launch into the first two chapters of their iconic concept album 2112. The show finally closes with “Working Man”, their 70s rock tribute with a slight reggae twist.

All in all, Time Machine – Live In Cleveland 2011 shows Rush to be the musical equivalent of a fine wine: they are only getting better with age. It’s truly hard to fathom that they have been doing this for almost forty years and are still improving. The future still looks pretty bright for Rush for some time to come.

CD 1:
1. The Spirit of Radio
2. Time Stand Still
3. Presto
4. Stick it Out
5. Workin’ Them Angels
6. Leave That Thing Alone
7. Faithless
8. BU2B
9. Free Will
10. Marathon
11. Subdivisions
12. Tom Sawyer
13. Red Barchetta
14. YYZ
15. Limelight

CD 2:
1. The Camera Eye
2. Witch Hunt
3. Vital Signs
4. Caravan
5. Moto Perpetuo
6. O’Malley’s Break
7. Closer to the Heart
8. 2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx
9. Far Cry
10. La Villa Strangiato
11. Working Man