I have a somewhat complicated relationship with Geddy Lee, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson. You know, Rush
It starts with the fact that I grew up in a blue-collar part of middle-class Bloomington. Musically speaking, I mainly listened to (post-) punk, but classic rock was an acceptable alternative. I knew a handful of Rush tunes from KQ
As the '80s came to an end, I found myself at a musical loss. Many of my favorite bands were using way too much synthesizer, metal invaded hardcore, and tie-dyed pseudo-hippies started showing up in what had recently been dubbed "alternative" music.
So what did I do?
Influenced by my friend Eric, I listened to Windham Hill
. And Rush.
Eric had a huge stack of Rush's albums and I taped nine or ten of them. (I hadn't learned about copyright at that point in my life.) And I listened to a lot of Rush for a couple years.
I found that I really liked everything up to 1982's Signals
. I actually thought Signals
was pretty good, but there was all that synthesizer again! So I wrote them off and stuck to listening to their old records.
In 1989, I heard that their new record, Presto
, was a guitar-based return to their old sound. I bought it and liked it. But there came a day when I had a date and no money, so I sold it to a pawn shop, along with 1999
, The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1
, some Ziggy Marley thing and a couple other, obviously forgettable, CDs.
I occasionally pull out one of those old cassettes I dubbed from Eric's records and play it, but I haven't really listened to Rush for quite a while.
I meet a guy named Erik for pizza every couple of months. He was a camper in my cabin when I was a camp counselor. I recognized him one time when he got on my bus and we've become reacquainted.
Erik is a big Rush fan and when he saw that they were coming to the Xcel, he asked me if I wanted to go with him.
Last night, I did.
Have you seen PCU
? I don't remember much of it, but I love the part where our hero chews out a guy who is going to see a band:
You're wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see? Don't be that guy.
As we drove down West 7th, I noticed that there were going to be a lot of Those Guys attending the show with us. I parked close and as we walked to the Xcel, I was somewhat surprised to see quite a few younger people on their way in, many of them hipsterish. Of course, most of the crowd was my age or older. And I wasn't looking too hard, but I noticed one
guy who was not Cauc.
We went inside and, after a long hike, found our seats. See, we got the cheap seats. They were $45 each, and neither of us felt that we could justify spending more than that. And, as the video introduction started, it was obvious that we had "skimped." There was a bank of lights between us and the giant screens. Ah, well. I think we were far enough away that we got a bit of a delay, but we could hear well enough. Added bonus: No earplugs necessary.
I have no idea how ticket sales work, but we were just about as far away from the stage as we could be (section 216, row 2) and our entire row was filled. However, rows 1 and 3-8 or so were completely empty. The top rows were draped off. We moved up into row 3 and got comfortable.
During the second song, I noticed something strange. People were leaving the section next to us. Then I saw that official-looking people were asking them to leave. A number of things crossed my mind. Then an Xcel worker was talking to Erik. He had tickets. And we were leaving, too. I thought we might be moving down a level, as the show had clearly not sold out.
Erik told me that we were not moving down a level, but in fact, we were going to move down next to the stage!
Here is a map showing our approximate original location (look for something-something Egypt) and our new seats (X marks the spot).
And here are two pictures (from my camera phone). The first is from our original seats, and I've zoomed in with my phone. The second is a non-zoomed shot from our new seats.
If you look at the stack of amps on the near side of the stage, you can see a collection of toy dinosaurs. I assumed that was some self-deprecating humor. After all, they are getting older- they're in their mid-fifties- and their music isn't exactly the height of fashion. I thought Neil looked like my dad behind the drums. Anyway, if you look to the far side of the drum kit, you can see an orange glow. At first, I thought those were Geddy's amps, but when the camera was on him, we could see that they were two rotisserie ovens full of chickens. I noticed people dressed as chefs occasionally basting the birds.
And the show itself? It was really fun. Since I am only really familiar with their pre-1982 material, I was hoping to hear quite a bit of that. I knew "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" was most likely out of the question, but I was pretty excited to hear quite a few of my favorite songs. Apparently, they played a song they haven't played live for nearly 30 years
. When I was in high school choir, I'd get sick to death of songs we'd sing for a year. I don't know how Rush can still crank out "Passage to Bangkok" year after year after year after year.
They played for 65 minutes, took a 30-minute intermission, then played another 90 minutes or so. When I saw REM's Monster
tour, which might have been the last arena concert I went to, they played 50 minutes.
I assumed that Rush were playing a lot of their new songs, and, according to Mr. Raihala's review linked above, I was right. I liked the new songs; I might even buy their new CD.
Overall, I have to admit that I really enjoyed the show. As I sort of mentioned, I don't really get to a lot of big arena rock concerts. The smoke and lasers and videos and pyrotechnics were kind of fun. But I probably won't do it again for a long time.