24 August 2002
Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre, Englewood, CO
We need to talk about Fiddler's Green concessions. Their popcorn tasted worse than any brand of coarse-textured powdered fiber I've ever, ever sampled. After a few ill-fated bites, I decided to place the gallon cup of stale, soggy sawdust onto an inconspicuous piece of high-traffic concrete. After what seemed like a set, somebody finally kicked it over and made a big mess.
But, that's not why I showed up at Fiddler's this evening. My brother has been a huge Rush fan for decades, and we decided to take a weekend off to see concerts, etc.
Stage Left contained a very large monitor which, at first showed the three bandmates in their Three Stooges attire, this time labeled as "Geddy, Neil, and Brad Pitt".
Starting at about 07:43, Rush took the stage, grabbed their instruments, and began a flawless "Tom Sawyer" with an extreme closeup of their most recent drummer (for almost three decades) Neil Peart. His eye sockets looked worn and torn, which is to be expected after losing a wife and daughter in a matter of just a few months back in '97-'98. His face makes him look like a damaged, but more-than-ever determined individual. His songwriting and performance is filled with more intensity than ever.
I was quite pleased with the first set, mainly because despite the fact that I'm not a big fan of this group, I recognized almost every song. "Distant Early Warning" is one of my personal favorites, from when I heard their airplay the most (1984). Bassist Geddy Lee's chorus vocals began with "World weighs on my shoulders....." without the "The" at the beginning.
The dead-on depiction of mankind in 1982, "New World Man" was next, followed by the title track from the 1991 Roll The Bones album, with profound lyrics such as, "Why does it happen? Because it happens!" and "Why are we here? Because we're here!". "Earthshine" was their first of several tunes off the new album Vapor Trails.
After a speedy, solo-ridden "YYZ" was only one track from Presto, "The Pass". I would have enjoyed hearing the very acoustic title track, and "Show Don't Tell". Later came the ultra-synthesized "The Big Money". Geddy very adeptly multitasked his bass, keyboard, and foot-pedaled bass throughout several songs this evening.
The entire 3-hour (including break) performance made extensive use of the large monitor described earlier, utilizing past video, new video, and virtual cartoons.
After a popcorn break, the powertrio from Canada added further promotion to their new CD with "One Little Victory", backed by some extreme methane trails from several high-powered flame throwers that would burn off Michael Jackson's hair any day, "Ceiling Unlimited", and "Secret Touch", with yet more profound lyrics, "The way out is the way in."
I immediately recognized the intros to "Dreamline" and "Red Sector A".
Neil Peart later dished out a now-expected long, amazing drum solo, using a rotating stage holding up a sizeable set consisting of both conventional and digital pieces.
After a couple of de-tuned (by two semitones) tracks from their legendary 2112, Alex Lifeson blasted into the recognizable opening to "Limelight", and then proceeded to totally wierd out the audience with a bunch of incoherent mock-nervous babble towards the end of a track from the late '70s. The nice set ended with "Spirit Of The Radio".
After running three clothes dryers for over two hours, Geddy, Alex, and Neil tossed out some souvenir T-Shirts (their unique humor), as well as three tracks from the 1970s, ending with "Working Man".
I understand that the band took their time prior to releasing their new album and touring, to make sure that the vibe could return with full power. Their performance tonight made their continuing history in Rock and Roll look like, and sound like, they haven't missed a beat.
My review is somewhat limited by the fact that I'm not a real, die-hard fan of this band, and therefore I couldn't justify giving them one star any more than I could justify giving five stars. But, the technical performance quality of this band is unmatched, to say the very least. To add, their songs have a unique energy behind their melodies.
[****] - Steven T.
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