Rush kicks the asses of ailments to deliver the goods in Vancouver

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      At Rogers Arena on Friday, July 17

      For 40 years now the trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart has been traversing the world, taking their patented brand of challenging prog-rock to the masses, proving to all and sundry that Canada is more than just hockey, beer, and maple syrup.

      And weed. I guess ya gotta add weed in there, too.

      But nothing lasts forever, so they say, and even the mighty Rush has shown a few chinks in its once-heavy metal armor. When the band announced its current R40 tour last January the press release stated that it "will most likely be their last major tour of this magnitude." More recently news has come of 62-year-old drummer Peart suffering from tendonitis and guitarist Lifeson, 61, being hit with severe arthritis.

      Singer-bassist Lee, also 61, is not suffering from any debilitating ailments at the moment, and that's a good thing, "I wouldn't want to go out there and be a shadow of my former self," he told Classic Rock magazine in May.

      So what does a trio of 60-something musicians with health issues do when it's facing possible forced retirement from the arena-rock lifestyle it's known so long? Well, if your name is Rush you put together a 25-song setlist that includes your newest and oldest material—and a good smattering of what came between—and then crank it like it's 1975.

      After a whimsical cartoon intro that depicted the band members' evolution over the years the show kicked off with "The Anarchist", a rollicking number off Rush's latest album, 2012's Clockwork Angels. Just one song later Peart was pulling off a dynamic mini-solo that was the percussive equivalent of tendonitis getting its unwelcome ass handed to it.

      The band worked its way back through time, visiting tracks from 2007's Snakes and Arrows, 2002's Vapor Trails, 1993's Counterparts, 1991's Roll the Bones, and 1984's Grace Under Pressure before ending its first set with the rousing "Subdivisions" from 1982's Signals.

      That song is one of the five Rush tunes inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, the other four being "Closer to the Heart", "The Spirit of Radio", "Tom Sawyer", and "Limelight". They all got played last night with the exception of "Limelight", which is rather surprising considering how extensively it was featured in I Love You, Man, that popular 2009 bromance about two Rush freaks who love "Limelight".

      The actors who played those guys, Paul Rudd and Jason Segal, showed up briefly in "No Country for Old Hens", the video interlude that opened Rush's second set. The clip also included the Rush members goofing off in fat suits, heavy makeup, and wacky costumes before a South Park clip led into the much-loved "Tom Sawyer", from the group's four-times-platinum 1981 LP, Moving Pictures.

      A dazzling display of old-school lasers accompanied the so-so "Jacob's Ladder", though they would have been more effective if rolled out to the thrilling strains of the set-closing "2112". Lee wasn't quite able to hit the high notes on that heaviest of Rush tunes, but Lifeson made up for it with his astounding guitarwork. And by the time he had melted the frets of his tobacco sunburst Les Paul with the Zeppelinesque "Working Man"-—the final tune of a three-song encore—it was evident that he'd followed Peart's fearless example and pwned that pain-giving a-hole arthritis.

      You can follow Steve Newton at and check out his website about rock 'n' roll and horror here.



      Randy Austin

      Jul 18, 2015 at 6:16am

      So-so Jacobs Ladder? Surely you jest! This was clearly the best song of the night, if there could be a best amongst that ripping set list. I'm not sure you were at the same show I was at with a review like that.


      Jul 18, 2015 at 7:10am

      This was an incredible show. My jaw was slack and open the whole time. My five year old son enjoyed it thoroughly (his first ever rock concert), throwing horns and fist bumping with glee (until he fell asleep at 11). Hat's off to you. Great review. \,,/\,,/


      Jul 18, 2015 at 8:07am

      ....."for Old Hens" is the title


      Jul 18, 2015 at 8:43am

      `` the so-so Jabob Ladder``??you kidding me?? that is such a so-so stupid comment.


      Jul 18, 2015 at 8:45am

      was really well thought out, poignant even, how they 'regressed' back in time to when they had no cash and a bare bones (but honest) gig setup: doing their first big hits inside of a school auditorium, with speakers on a cafeteria chair with a mike hanging over it to pick up as much sound as it. kudos to the production team for that one... bang on nostalgic bliss.

      btw: the 2nd act was entitled 'no country for hold hens' not old men...but aside from that good review.

      lastly: anyone else have a hard time taking their eyes off of peart? i mean, while i do love geddy's bass and alex's riffs, there is just something so damned mesmerizing about watching neil attack those skins...jaw droppingly enticing....was the only Rush concert (and i've attended a good 20 or so since my 1st one in '77) where the whole crowd around us was standing the entire show.

      Leonard Haid

      Jul 18, 2015 at 8:56am

      The so-so Jacob's Ladder? As a Rush fan of many years, I dismiss you as a music reviewer of any competence, based on that one comment alone.


      Jul 18, 2015 at 9:06am

      "...a dynamic mini-solo that was the percussive equivalent of tendonitis getting its unwelcome ass handed to it."

      Nice job, Mr. Newton! Love that phrasing.

      Ronnie Schaeffer

      Jul 18, 2015 at 10:43am

      They have been kicking ass for 4 decades! I'm not surprised they still are. They are genius!


      Jul 18, 2015 at 11:06am

      Cleverly written article. Not sure what "powned" is..but maybe that is a problem with whoever proofreads. Jacob's Ladder was 'so-so"?? Hmm...well I'm going to bet that was the first or second time the author of the article ever heard it. It's not supposed to be an all out jam like 'Working Man". Anyway..of course Rush delivered fantastic show..despite any ailments Lerxst and Pratt may have to contend with. Rush never disappoints! The 3 Magi rule!


      Jul 18, 2015 at 11:06am

      "So-So" Jacobs Ladder? Are you deaf? That rarity was a highlight of the show.