the loud bassoon concert scene

Rush @ UMB Bank Pavilion, St. Louis, USA
12 June 2004

If you've lived on this planet for 20 years, you know which people go to a Rush concert. It's all musicians (primarily air-drummers); diehard classic rockers in their mid 40s who have the sticker of Calvin urinating on whichever automobile manufacturer has inexplicably drawn their ire; and the always-friendly Wiccan old maid with multiple cats, who was "goth" before that was a thing to be. Much like radio programming consultants, the latter two categories think Rush's last album was 1982's Moving Pictures, with the Wiccans probably not having physical contact with another human since 1976's classic 2112 came out.

However, subtract these "Subdivisions" of fans from the picture, and you've got one hell of a concert. The band continues to deliver a top-flight performance night in and night out. Where many progressive rock bands clearly appear to have lost a step after all these years, Rush continues to execute their craft with all the intricacies intact some 30 years later, cramming 31 songs into a well-paced 3-½ hour set. A live show of that size also means that fans are spared the agony of yet another miserable, nameless, faceless no-hit-wonder opening act.

While it would be easy for a hardcore Rush fan to be frustrated by the band's quick medley of their early albums to begin the show, it's still great to see them tip the caps to the past. The medley served as the brilliant vehicle that enabled the band to touch on one song from each of their many studio releases.

Having seen the setlist posted prior to the show, I winced at the idea of Rush playing four cover songs from their new Feedback album, but was very pleasantly surprised at how well the tunes came off. Perhaps most surprising was how faithful the songs were to the original versions. Overall, it was a pleasant new twist to the Rush concert landscape, as I had never really heard the three Canadians play a cover song before, and it provides some clever insight into the band's roots.

The old standbys were there too, along with some returning songs that had been away for a while, like "Subdivisions," "Xanadu," "The Trees," and "Red Barchetta." The obscure but fantastic "Between the Wheels" made a very rare live appearance as well. The newer material like "One Little Victory" and "Secret Touch" worked really well, and received some excellent responses, especially from the younger Rush fans in attendance.

Fantastic video displays and brilliant overall stage and lighting designs wrapped the show in an incredible package. The lasers, vari-lites, and spotlights were strategically utilized, and not over-the-top, compared to a lot of today's "production first, band second" live shows.

Last, but far from least, I'm sure you're all wondering about drummer extraordinaire Neil Peart's solo. Quoting some past efforts, but inserting new elements, Mr.P again showed why he's one of the premier technical drummers in the history of rock music, especially during the signature "big band" sequence, where he extended his prowess to the medium of yesteryear percussion superstars like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa. Neil never disappoints, and after yet another astounding effort, it's a pretty safe bet he'll continue to amaze and entertain us all for years to come.

Granted, no one likes going to their local overpriced "outdoor corporate mega-shed" for concerts, but Rush again gives us all a fabulous reason to return to the advertising-littered land of $5 Cokes and $40 t-shirts. I totally hate lame-asses who quote lyrics in concert reviews, but despite the ominous surroundings, "one likes to believe in the freedom of music" … even if it costs $60 a ticket.

Review by Efrem Zimbabwe, Jr.