Rush – Toronto Concert Review October 14 2012

Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart, Geddy Lee of Rush in Toronto October 14 2012

The Angels Are Out When Rush Present A Clockwork Show in YYZ

October 15 2012 – In T-Mak World‘s guide to Toronto’s Upcoming Must See Concerts (Summer/Fall 2012 edition), we had a huge asterisk beside the hometown boys from Rush. October 14th was the long anticipated date, and Rush brought their caravan into the Air Canada Center for the first of two shows. Here is what we had to say about the gig in our preview article:

When they boys from Rush play the hometown of Toronto there is magic in the air. With Rush not only do you get to see a band with 24 consecutive gold albums under their belt but you get to see the world’s best living drummer in Neil Peart. Throw in Geddy Lee who aside from being one of the best bassists ever, can also sing and play keyboards at the same time as kicking bass pedals. Guitarist Alex Lifeson completes the trio with his mind-blowing riffs. The technical mastery of the three local rockers is unparalleled by any band and Rush also have a brand new album to showcase.
Alex Lifeson, and Geddy Lee of Rush in Toronto October 14 2012

Tonight’s performance began with the band’s attempt at a humorous video (as they have been doing the last few tours), but the crowd really took notice with the opening notes of Subdivisions. My personal favorite Rush song lyrically really set the tone for the night. Immediately after that another of the “softer” side staples Big Money kicked in which ended with the Dr. Evil quote of  “One Meeeelion Dollars”. If you were unfamiliar with the set list of this tour before you walked into the arena, you would very quickly begin to see a theme with the next few songs – and that theme is the 80’s specifically from 1982-1987. In fact the first 7 songs of the set were from all from the four albums of that time span (Signals 1982, Grace Under Pressure 1984, Power Windows 1985, and Hold Your Fire 1987).

Alex Lifeson of Rush in Toronto October 14 2012

Like a linearly tuned time machine Rush then took us to 1991 for a couple of songs from Roll the Bones and one stop in 2007 for Far Cry from Snakes and Arrows. Aside from the opening song Subdivisions and the closing song Far Cry, the first half surely was not one for casual Rush fans (is there even such a thing?) The band seemed to put away the hits so far, and focused on some deep catalog songs some of which have not been played in ages. Territories for example was last heard in 1988 – yes 25 years ago!! All indications were that this tour was going to reward long time Rush fans to the dismay of the ones that wanted to hear Freewill, Closer To The Heart, or Limelight for the umpteenth time.

Geddy Lee of Rush in Toronto October 14 2012

Rush’s vocalist and bassist extraordinaire Geddy Lee addressed the crowd after the third song “Thank you and good evening Toronto….you guys look like my home town” as he looks out into the 100% full Air Canada Center. “Sorry to say we have like over 30 songs, oh I don’t know how many songs, lets just say 3 hours of music“.  No matter how many times you see Rush it still is a very cool feeling knowing that these guys go to the same movie theaters, eat at the same restaurants and drive the same streets that you do everyday. Guitarist Alex Lifeson is also a resident of Toronto. Only drummer Neil Peart has moved away to LA and no longer calls Toronto his place of residence.

Neil Peart of Rush in Toronto October 14 2012

Highlights of the first half seem to be the solo’s – whether it be Lifeson’s blistering solo on Analog Kid, Lee’s bass grooves, or particularly the Professor Peart’s drum solo on Where’s My Thing. This tour does not feature the massively popular Peart extended drum solo of the past few tours but does offer Peart doing 3 smaller solo’s throughout the night. The electrical anticipation in the audience is beyond description when the spotlights converge on Peart and you can see him on the big screens focusing with razor-sharp concentration at the beginning of his solos. Magic, pure musical magic. My friend brought his 11-year-old with us to the concert last night, and the boy’s jaw had to be picked up off the floor at his first Peart solo experience. Something Adam will surely be telling his friends in school about today as well as to his own kids 30 years down the road. The lucky guy got to see Neil Peart and Rush at the top of their game (not bad for the old guy who is now 60 years old??!!??!)

Neil Peart of Rush in Toronto October 14 2012

The second half of the show brought 8 additional musicians up on stage behind Peart’s drum kit. The 8 comprised an unorthodox orchestra as they were head banging and grooving for almost all of the second set. They were there to assist the band musically on the presentation of Clockwork Angels (Rush’s recently released album). Clockworks Angels is an excellent concept album that even has an accompanying sc-fi book authored by Kevin J. Anderson and is based on Neil Peart’s lyrics and concepts. We were at the global book launch and you can read about it here. The basic premise of the book is about a discontent young man seeking adventure. He is growing up in a mythical place called Albion that is ruled by The Watchmaker who instills clockwork precision on every minuscule tasks of his citizens. His rule is questioned by only one man named The Anarchist who thrives on chaos and disorder. The world is based on mythical magic where alchemy powers all the machines. The young man goes on a journey to find his place between the extreme order of The Watchmaker and the extreme chaos of The Anarchist.

Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart of Rush in Toronto October 14 2012

Clockwork Angels (the record) has 12 tracks on it and 9 of them were presented to start off the second half, all of them accompanied with the 8 piece rocking orchestra. This string band of musicians were standing up and dancing around with the music of Rush. Fire and pyrotechnics were used liberally for the opening track Caravan. Highlights of this part of the show were Headlong Flight and it’s really hard rock brand of pure old school Rush and Halo Effect which had smoke machines cover the floor of the stage to a very moody and hypnotic effect.

Rush’s 8 piece orchestra accompanies Clockwork Angels in Toronto October 14 2012
Alex Lifeson, and Geddy Lee of Rush in Toronto October 14 2012

The stage featured props as expected in a Rush show – gone are the rotisserie chicken roasters, the washing machines and the time machines from past shows. This show four props behind Lee labelled BIGHORN (a big horn from a gramophone record player),  BRAINSTORM (a brain floating in a vacuum tube with headphones on it), TOPHORN (an assortment of horns on top of a box) and POPCORN (featuring a giant popcorn maker). Best way to envision these is through a pic as below.

Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart and Geddy Lee of Rush in Toronto October 14 2012

The second set finished off with Manhattan Project and Red Sector A surrounding Peart’s 3rd drum solo of the night. From this point on the audience was finally off their seats and going wild, YYZ (featuring 2 dancing gnome characters) leading into The Spirit of Radio leading into the encore of Tom Sawyer and 2112 (Overture, The Temples Of Syrinx, and Grand Finale). This last half hour or so of the night had reciprocal audience energy of the highest magnitude.Every one legged hop by Geddy or drumstick finger roll by Neil brought thunderous cheers. The party was on, and if you ever get to only see 30 minutes of Rush in your life the end of yesterday’s show would be the thing to watch. Excellent sound and lights made this show stand out far above the numerous concerts we have seen this year right up there with Roger Water’s The Wall.

 Rush in Toronto October 14 2012

Verdict: 5 out of 5. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that a Rush concert in Toronto is magical. Although tonight’s choice of set list would be difficult to digest for casual Rush fans the concert felt like it was presented in three acts – “The 80’s”, “Clockwork Angels”, and “The Hits”. Since we are NOT just casual Rush fans, we loved every minute of the show and can’t wait for Tuesday October 16th to do it all over again!

The setlist and three videos from the night are below:

Rush Setlist Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada 2012, Clockwork Angels Tour

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3 Responses to Rush – Toronto Concert Review October 14 2012

  1. Kev says:

    Hey! Great review, I'm there in row 2 of your crowd photo, just in front of Geddy. Awesome gig, worth travelling 3000 miles from the UK for :-)

  2. Pingback: Rush - Toronto Concert Review October 16 2012 | T-Mak WorldT-Mak World

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