Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, Irvine, CA (July 30, 2015)
The Forum, Los Angeles, CA (August 1, 2015)
Writing and Photography by TourBusLive.com.
AFTER FORTY YEARS, IS IT REALLY OVER??? Is THIS the last tour? Will we ever see RUSH again? For the better part of the past four decades, you could almost count on seeing RUSH in your hometown just about every two years.
But, this time around, we are ALL wondering the same thing – ARE THE RUMORS TRUE?
Judging from the atmosphere (and documentary cameras) surrounding us at both IRVINE MEADOWS and at the FORUM on the FINAL TWO NIGHTS of this tour, we fans definitely felt as though we were watching the end of the proverbial era.
Sadly, despite some reports indicating we MAY see some one-offs or small residencies in the band’s future, it seems this IS RUSH’s final full-blown tour. At least it appears to be, according to a few insiders we’ve talked with, and if we correctly read a sure hint from RUSH crew member Michael Mosbach (a.k.a. Praetorian, Neil Peart’s motorcycle riding mate), who wrote, ever so eloquently on his tour-following Instagram, that this is “The end of the road.”
Well, you never know. They COULD surprise us and come back around (be still my heart!). But if this IS it, then I guess we RUSH fans can’t really complain. Over the past forty years, we’ve been lucky enough to get 20 studio albums, 10 live albums, and 11 video albums out of our favorite band, and have seen the Canadian trio traverse the globe for 24 glorious major tours.
And you can’t say RUSH hasn’t given us their all: Bodies age, whether we like it or not, and I can’t even imagine what a toll this level of musicianship takes on the three Canucks. Not to mention the time they spend away from their family and friends. And, if they went out now, it would mean that RUSH goes out without having lost one iota of their technical genius – in 2015, they continue to perform at a level few other musicians will ever reach.
Becoming the soundtrack to most baby-boomers’ lives (and staples of those same baby-boomers’ record collections) RUSH has always been a favorite among rock fans. Yet, regardless of their popularity among their steadfastly loyal following, the band has somehow been rebuffed or even ignored by the critics throughout the years (Rolling Stone didn’t even review a single RUSH album until 1982).
But, in 2013, as fans, we were finally vindicated when RUSH (bassist GEDDY LEE, guitarist ALEX LIFESON, and drummer NEIL PEART – each proven to be a genius in his own right –rock’s true “Holy Trinity” – who have risen above the sum of their already-incredible parts) were FINALLY inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, earning them a lengthy and roaring standing ovation by those of us fans who were lucky enough to be there.
That induction was long overdue. RUSH’s accolades far exceeding the critics’ predictions, have earned them 24 gold records and 14 platinum records (with 3 going multi-platinum). Worldwide, RUSH has sold more than 40 million albums to their fans – ranking them as NUMBER THREE in sales (behind only The Beatles and The Rolling Stones) by the RIAA (your humble writer alone having purchased no less than 30 of those releases– some several times over – on vinyl, 8-track tape, cassette tape, CD, MP3, Beta Max, VHS, and DVD since 1976, when I began MY lifetime as a RUSH fan).
So what is it about this band? Unparalleled in their technical skill, intricate song structures, and intelligent lyrics, RUSH has won the hearts of their fans, even long before music media gave them their due. They are musicians’ musicians who have inspired an entire generation (have you seen the documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage?!?!), who in turn have now inspired yet another whole generation (RUSH’s GrandFans?)?
And this final tour walked us through EVERY ERA of those FORTY years that made us love them as much as we do.
The tour – aptly named R40 – but also known to the fans now, as inspired by RUSH’s endless and intelligent sense of humor projected on the ‘studio’ wall during intermission, as “ARF 40” (represented by Geddy Lee’s two pet Norwich Terriers) and “ARRRR 40” (Geddy moonlighting as a pirate, complete with eye patch and shoulder-parrot) – was BRILLIANTLY laid out, beginning the show with selections from their most recent studio album (2012’s Clockwork Angels) and winding their way backwards to the finale, “Working Man” from their 1974 debut album simply entitled “RUSH”. And while the set list was taking us back through time, so were the extremely clever stage sets, which seamlessly devolved (with the help of coverall-clad R40 stage hands/minions) through the many past tour backdrops – each mirroring the exact stage set-up from the tour that coincided with the song selection – down to the last moments – when RUSH turned their large-venue stage into a 1970 high-school auditorium, complete with disco ball and guitar cabinets propped atop vintage school chairs. Geddy and Alex continued the illusion as they swapped in and out of mostly era-appropriate basses and guitars (the DOUBLE DOUBLNECKS on “Xanadu” were enough to make this girl’s heart race!), and Neil’s extremely beautiful ancient Romanian-wood R40 drum kit (made by DW) was inconspicuously replaced at intermission with an equally-beautiful replica throwback kit – Starman and chimes included.
And as well thought-out and carefully choreographed the stage sets were, so were the set lists. As we followed along fan reports throughout the tour, we saw there were apparently seven versions of the set list that popped up on this tour, sticking mostly to the same script, varying slightly with a few key swap outs, but all versions seemingly satisfying even the most selective of RUSH fans.
In Irvine, we were treated to Set List “C” – which included “YYZ” as the swap-out for the second Moving Pictures selection from Set Two (other nights got “Red Barchetta” or “The Camera Eye”).
WATCH OUR OWN VIDEO HERE:
And, at the Forum, we were treated to the rare Set List “F”- which included a wonderful performance of 1982’s Signals album highlight “Losing It”, with violin accompaniment by Jonathan Dinklage (one of the talented musicians who toured with RUSH on the Clockwork Angels tour in 2012/2013, and brother of actor Peter Dinklage – who appeared with actor Jason Segal, actor Paul Rudd, guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Les Claypool, actor Jay Baruchel, and the Trailer Park Boys in a video for the rap portion of the title track from 1991’s Roll the Bones).
Another highlight was a tearful and goosebump moment during “Closer to the Heart”, when the Forum was lit up by the twinkling from little battery-operated tea lights (apparently tea light is the new Bic?) that some dedicated fan had passed out to as many of the audience members as she could before the show.
And then, in that final show at the Forum, we saw things we had never seen before (not ever before).
First, In a short break between final song “Working Man” and a snippet from the rare and unreleased track “Garden Road” (that was supposed to be on the band’s 1974 debut album), Neil stood up at his drum kit, pulled out a point-and-shoot camera, and took several crowd photos before returning to his seat to finish the song!
Then, a few moments later, after the last note was played, Geddy went to the microphone (something he usually does) to close the show. But, this time, it was VERY different. This time, he said, “THANK YOU SO MUCH – LOS ANGELES. On behalf of the greatest crew and organization in the world…”, but he cut himself off abruptly which an audible “WHOAH!”
Why? Because Neil Peart startled him as he tapped him on the shoulder. Neil had done something he has never done in 40 years…he joined Alex and Geddy at the front of the stage, wrapping his long and agile arms around them both in a brief but heartfelt group hug – as we fans watched open-mouthed, staring at the three of them together for that historic moment, before Peart scampered quickly off stage.
Geddy then picked up where he left off, and said his final words, “…On behalf of our whole organization, thank you United States of America for forty awesome years! And I do hope we’ll meet again sometime. Bye bye.”
No, Geddy – thank YOU. And Alex. And Neil. We DO hope we’ll meet again sometime.
And, if not, then we were incredibly lucky to have seen your last exit, stage left.
SPOTTED IN THE CROWD IRVINE:
Steven Adler (drummer, Guns N’ Roses), Alex Lifeson’s sister (a lovely woman, who told some very funny stories about her mother, who has been asked for her autograph ever since the RUSH documentary “Beyond the Lighted Stage” came out!), and about 16,000 RUSH fans – almost all of them wearing their RUSH shirts!
SPOTTED IN THE CROWD FORUM (AND THESE ARE ONLY THE ONES WE SAW! THERE WERE SURELY MORE!!):
Jim Ladd (Legendary L.A. Radio DJ), Stewart Copeland (drummer, The Police), Taylor Hawkins (drummer, Foo Fighters), Chad Smith (drummer, Red Hot Chili Peppers), Robby Krieger (guitarist, The Doors), Jack Black (actor and guitarist, Tenacious D), Paul Gilbert (guitarist, Mr. Big), Walter Ino (guitarist, Survivor), kOko Powell (bassist, Edgar Winter Band), Marty O’Brien (bassist, Lita Ford band), Patrick Warburton (actor, Rush Fan), Scotty Medlock (St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital annual benefit organizer, golf fanatic, and Rush Fan), and a whole lot of RUSH fans who have had one hell of a great ride with this band.
Intro movie: The World Is…The World Is…
Headlong Flight (with short drum solo)
The Main Monkey Business
One Little Victory
Roll The Bones
Distant Early Warning
Losing It (with violinist Jonathan Dinklage)
Intro movie: No Country for Old Hens
The Spirit of Radio
Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hempishperes, Part I: Prelude
Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage
Closer to the Heart
2112 Part I: Overture
2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
2112 Part IV: The Presentation
2112 Part VII: Grand Finale
Intro movie: Mel’s Rock Pile starring Eugene Levy (and introducing that band who has opened for KISS)
What You’re Doing
Working Man (with “Garden Road” outro)
Outro movie: Exit Stage Left