Geddy Lee - vocals, bass, synthesizers; Alex Lifeson - guitar; Neil Peart - drums, percussion
Holy CRAP!! That is a lot of noise for three guys! If ever there were a band that fully embodied the implications of the title "power trio," it is Toronto's finest - RU.S.H: a single syllable succinctly expressing the illicit response garnered by the most dexterous and ambitious rock 'n' roll ever performed.
Though often categorized as progressive rock or art rock, Rush has always maintained a sense of pop songcraft that distinguished them from contemporaries like King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. By the 1980s, Rush had ditched the silk kimonos and sci-fi Tolkeinisms that had made them a household name in the '70s and reinvented themselves with a sort of Ayn Rand-meets-Tom Clancy sociopolitical perspective and the sartorial suavity of Miami Vice. Always eager to take advantage of the latest musical technology, the band had been developing an increasingly synth-driven sound on albums like Signals and Grace Under Pressure; less formidable groups might consider hiring a few spare musicians to flesh out their futuristic experiments on the road, but why bother with more mouths to feed when Geddy Lee can cue sequenced parts with his feet while playing bass at light speed and singing?
This homecoming show captures Rush on their Grace Under Pressure tour, one of their last great rock tours before a trio of more "mature" (read: boring) records carried them into the '90s. There's still some serious aggression packed into this set, though, and they perform note-perfect renditions of even their most complex songs, like a version of the crowd-pleasing instrumental "YYZ" dovetailing with 2112's "The Temples of Syrinx." It's a three-ring circus with continuous action - don't blink or you might miss something. But even amidst the fury of technical proficiency and occasionally ham-fisted lyrical rhetoric, these consummate performers know how to lighten the mood - whether it's a medley of Grand Funk-style rockers from their first album or a guest appearance from a semi-famous friend like SCTV's Joe Flaherty as Count Floyd introducing "The Weapon."
Rush returned to a heavier, guitar-oriented foundation as they began their third decade, seemingly reinvigorated by rock music's Pacific Northwest facelift. The change served them well, as they continue to sell out worldwide tours and release new albums to a vast and zealous core of fans. Even in the face of personal tragedy and mild public embarrassment, they have persevered and thrived. Love 'em or hate 'em - there's only one Rush.