RUSH (Live)

At The Metro Arena, Newcastle, U.K., October 5, 2007

It’s been nearly 30 years since these Canadian Rock legends last treaded the boards in Newcastle and the near 10,000 rampant Geordies in the Arena were restless with anticipation. Such was the interest generated by tonight’s show; there were many lapsed gig goers who hadn’t been to a concert in years brushing down their denims to welcome back the Maple Leaf wonders with open arms.

With a running time of around 3 hours, showtime was early. The lights dimmed and the show commenced at 7:45 p.m. with a hysterical video scene featuring a startled Alex Lifeson waking up in bed after dreaming of snakes, only to find an equally bewildered Neil Peart next to him. As both of them scream together, the scene shifts to a tired Geddy Lee being berated by a mad Scotsman (Geddy Lee dressed up!!) demanding that he starts the show and this leads straight into “Limelight” and an early opportunity for Lifeson to step up to the plate and deliver a stunning solo — and they don’t come more impressive than this one.

rush Next up was the welcome return of “Digital Man” to give a hint of Reggae to the proceedings. “Entre Nous,” the rarely played nugget from Permanent Waves, was given a rapturous reception. Rush really know how to please a crowd and nothing works better than a vintage obscurity for the hardcore fans.

“Mission” from Hold Your Fire was a revelation. A delightful melody built on layers of warm keyboards giving a huge, rich sound that enveloped every inch of the arena. The sound quality throughout was superb, and it is no coincidence that most of the stage crew have grown with Rush since the early days and have honed their craft to perfection after years on the road together.

rush Following the welcome return of “Freewill” to the set was “The Main Monkey Business,” the first of nine from the new Snakes and Arrows album. Rush have always been a band to promote their new album heavily and tonight was no different. Over a 3-hour set, this is a luxury Rush can afford to indulge in and keeps the band fresh and inspired over the tour.

“The Main Monkey Business” is the first of several instrumentals during the evening and held Lee and Lifeson in riff overload. There’s no going soft as the years advance here.

A rather witty Bob and Doug McKenzie video clip introduced “The Larger Bowl,” yet this humor was offset by the stark images flashed onto the screens throughout the songs showing contrasting images of wealth and poverty.

rush With a huge stage enveloped in shimmering lights with a backdrop featuring 3 enormous video screens, Lee and Lifeson stood at opposite ends of the stage with Peart perched behind his kit in the center. Behind Lee were a range of chicken rotisseries, and behind Lifeson, lining his speaker cabinets, was a range of plastic prehistoric creatures, and surrounding his foot pedals a hoard a groupie Barbie Dolls holding up placards. These little extras certainly gave the show a nice lighthearted touch at times. This was further enhanced when at various times a chef walked on to tend to the roasting chickens. Who said Rush have no sense of humor?

Digging deep into the vaults, Rush sprang the surprise of “Circumstances” from Hemispheres onto a jubilant crowd, quickly followed by “Between The Wheels,” which was one of the main highlights from the R30 Tour, one of the few songs retained from that career spanning set list.

rush As the stunning laser show during “Dreamline” dazzled the audience, the first set of the night came to an end with Lee admitting “We need to take a break now; we’re getting old you know!!” The punters took the opportunity for a beer and pee break as others perused the copious amounts of merchandise available in the foyer including a rather fabulous Complete Tour Book featuring every tour book from the Hemispheres Tour to the R30 Tour.

Following the interval, Rush returned with several songs from the new album, including a powerful “Far Cry” and an excellent “Workin’ Them Angels,” complete with a great video montage and featuring Lifeson on mandolin. Continuing the Snakes and Arrows theme was “Armor And Sword” and “The Way The Wind Blows” where the stage was bathed in a shimmering orange glow. These songs sound great on the album and literally jump to life on the stage with a much harder edge than their studio counterparts.

“Subdivisions,” the perennial chestnut from Signals had Rush digging back in time again. The lush, layered keyboards washed through the air as the melody for the disaffected suburban youth echoed around the Arena.

rush The longest song of the night was “Natural Science,” and that really gave the band a chance to flex their collective musical muscles… and there was plenty of flexing going on with Lifeson firing out yet another cracking solo.

One of the finest moments from Moving Pictures, “Witch Hunt,” again a rarely played treat and possibly the first tour in the UK featuring this song, was sublime. From the opening, there were eerie video images of fire with accompanying lynch mob screams combined stunningly with on-stage pyro and lasers. With Peart working his way round his kit in fine style, the poignant lyrics are as apt today as they were when this was first written in the early 80’s.

The instrumental “Malignant Narcissism” again unleashed Lee away from his microphone, allowing him to hop across the stage whilst pumping out his trademark bass runs. Neil Peart’s crowning moment followed and the crowd were treated to 10 minutes of stunning percussive skills on both acoustic and electronic drums courtesy of a rotating kit. There’s very few drummers out there who can actually make a solo musical, but Peart succeeded on all fronts and earned a standing ovation from a hugely appreciative audience.

Alex Lifeson treated the crowd to a short acoustic interlude in the shape of “Hope,” allowing Peart just enough time to nip to the loo, before “Distant Early Warning” drove the show into the last leg. “Spirit Of The Radio” sounded fresh and exciting despite being played hundreds of times over the past decades, both Lee and Lifeson look like they were having a blast — as if it’s the first time they’ve played this live.

rush A fantastic South Park video featuring L’il Rush was side-splittingly funny and lead into fine version of “Tom Sawyer” with its driving, groove-laden beat, a rhythm that has been sampled on numerous occasions by Hip Hop artists.

The first encore of the evening was “One Little Victory,” which featured the dragon video and again some excellent choreographed video/pyro special effects, which made Rammstein’s show look like a party popper!!

Rush know how to throw in the crowd pleasers and “A Passage To Bangkok” was just that, the sole number from the classic 2112 album, and for the first and only time of the evening, Lee strapped on his trusty Rickenbacker bass while Lifeson plumped for the Gibson semi-acoustic guitar. In fact, throughout the night, Lifeson favored the Gibson Les Paul rather than the Fender and Paul Reed Smith guitars, which were his weapons of choice since the 80’s (and didn’t they sound so rich and full back then?).

rush Sadly, all good things come to an end, and after a brief jam session the band launched in the instrumental to end all instrumentals (excluding “La Villa Strangiato” of course!!) “YYZ,” and the crowd went nuts, danced, sang, and played air guitar and drums frantically in time with the band as the lasers shot over their heads.

With “Scottish Geddy Lee” appearing for the final time on the video screen to close the show with a barbed comment, “Thank goodness that shite’s over now you lot bugger off!!” Absolutely hilarious and a totally original way to end their mammoth set.

Rush came to Newcastle and laid on an audio/visual extravaganza that stunned the Arena crowd. What is incredible is that only 5 songs in this 3-hour set were duplicated from the previous R30 tour. Such is the strength in depth of their back catalog that they can cut out three-quarters of the previous tour’s setlist and still cram a show full of classic material.

rush In a world of quick-fix Reality T.V., it is so inspiring to see a band who have stayed together for over 30 years still progressing musically and putting on a show of musicianship (which is second to none), while still playing to packed arenas worldwide. Rush stand as a monument to integrity and quality in an industry tarnished with hype and phoney stars.

The best gig of the year by one of the world’s greatest bands. Absolutely amazing. Miss this tour at your peril!



  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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