Rush surprisingly played Sheffield in 2011 for their Time Machine Tour which contained Moving Pictures played in its entirety[1]. I have been listening to the band since 1993 but at that time I wasn’t really listening to them that much, if at all. The last record I bought was their 2007 Snakes & Arrows record. I had seen ’em for the R30 tour in Brum back in 2004, so I wasn’t too bothered when the Time Machine Tour came to town. However, when they decided to come again this year for the Clockwork Angels Tour, and after having my interest rekindled following their induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame by the Foo Fighters, I snagged a tix. They may not come by my town again, who knows!

I noted the e-ticket described the absence of a supporting act, hence I made sure I didn’t miss the first bit of the show like last time again. As usual when one attends a gig like this, you note the older demographic present. Bespectacled chaps in their 60s with greying and slightly longish hair, who’d look right in a second-hand book and vinyl store, clad in a vintage Fly By Night tee – that kind of demographic, if you catch my drift. Let me not start with the beer-bellied types with the Jethro Tull tees and faded gumby denim jackets!

I took to my seat 15 minuted before the start, as the tees can wait. Judging from the crowd, the Dublin Pearl Jam debacle won’t be happening again! A Rush show is always a spectacle but this one takes (?took) the cake, with the steampunk set and the trademark paraphernalia that stands in place of their amps (in 2004, Geddy had three Maytag washing machines!). A little video saying hello to Sheffield was put up, and contained bizarre scenes of Alex, Geddy and Neil getting ready for the show. I have to say firstly, my knowledge of the band’s material is somewhat limited to the obvious classics, and when they started with Subdivisions (from their 1982 Signals record), I just took it as I am hearing a new tune by the band. I had briefly perused the ‘net and kinda knew that this tour contains some 80s stuff that they had not played for a while. What they had next was a heavy rotation of tunes from Power Windows (it’s not thirty years yet, unlike Moving Pictures in 2011, so prolly they were just wanting to play that particular album). Nevertheless, it wasn’t like watching a Kajagoogoo reunion, the songs were heavy and sounded really fresh – so, I really enjoyed them as discovering these unheard of songs was pretty much like listening to new material.

They took a break after Geddy commented that at their age, they defo needed one. After the 15 minutes or so intermission, the band was joined by the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble[2] for the next set which is composed by their new material, albeit not in the exact order in the record. I have to admit that I had not listened to this album well enough, but The Wreckers became my fav tune from the record that night. Carnies came with a few of them damned exploding pyros – man, don’t I just hate them! I loved the rocking riffs of Headlong Flight on the record, and it was great to see Lifeson in great form. I note that most of his Gibbo LP’s are equipped with Floyd Rose trems now, and look what I missed – the Gibson Custom Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess has been on the market recently.

After bookending the CA set with The Garden, they went back to the 80’s again with Manhattan Project before Peart playing his third solo of the night. This was the proper one called The Percussor which was a tad shorter when compared to the band’s previous tours but he had done two others with Where’s My Thing and The Wreckers earlier on. Peart’s playing is indescribable (just look him up on YouTube). For this tour, he retained his Time Machine Tour drum kit (note the artwork!) as he felt it was well set up the first time, it didn’t need much change for this tour. After the Fade-To-Grey-esque Red Sector A, it was back to the older classics starting with the glorious YYZ. The ended the second set with Spirit, and when that unmistakeably fuzzy keyboard intro came on for the encore you know it was time for Tom Sawyer. And how else do you finish a show like this? 2112, man.

We have assumed control. We have assumed control.

We have assumed control.

Official shots can be seen here.

Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield 28.5.2013 set: Subdivisions / The Big Money / Force Ten / Grand Designs / The Body Electric / Territories / The Analog Kid / Bravado / Where’s My Thing? (+drum solo) / Far Cry // (with Clockwork Angels String Ensemble) Caravan / Clockwork Angels / The Anarchist / Carnies / The Wreckers / Headlong Flight (+ drum solo) / Halo Effect / (Alex Lifeson solo intro) Seven Cities of Gold / The Garden / Manhattan Project / The Percussor (Neil’s solo) / Red Sector A / YYZ / The Spirit of Radio // Tom Sawyer / 2112 Part I: Overture / Part II: The Temples of Syrinx / Part VII: Grand Finale

[1]2011 was the 30th anniversary for said record.
[2]Awek on the violin hawt oo.