Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Rush in Ottawa

A lot of you know that my favourite band are that true Canadian progressive rock trio called Rush. I've been a huge fan since high school and have only seen them live twice, both in Edmonton--once in 1990 for the Presto tour, and five years ago for the Vapor Trails tour. Both shows were quite memorable but the Vapor Trails show is my second favourite concert of all time, next to Pink Floyd in 1994. Nothing will top that one.

Some would think that a band that's released 18 studio albums, toured a billion cities, would be old and out of ideas. Few bands from the 70's remain intact, but Rush is one of those few thankfully. Their experience and creativity knows no bounds and their recent album, "Snakes & Arrows", is very, very good. Geddy, Alex, and Neil, quite literally are playing better than ever and their sound, is well ... sound!

So you can imagine how much I was looking forward to seeing them live again.

But alas ... when I was in Kansas, Rush played Calgary, Alberta (only 2.5 hours away from home). Then when I left Kansas, they played there a few weeks later, and so did Dream Theater. Just my luck eh?

All that was left were a few shows in Ottawa and Toronto.

But luckily I met someone in September who's from Ottawa and then invited me to see RUSH, in Ottawa, on the 21st and a couple free nights stay at the Brookstreet hotel in Kanata, just west of Ottawa. I couldn't believe this was happening. It was like a dream come true. And the best part is that the seats were 8th row on the floor!

Also knowing that I would be working in Cleveland the following week, it all worked out.

TRAVEL PANIC ATTACK! About 4 hours before we were about to see the show, I just realized that I lost my passport. After calling WestJet, airport lost and found, and government offices (which is pretty much useless), we made a trip back to the airport, went to the police office, and voila! there it was. Some kind soul had turned it in. WHEW.

So we had some drinks, took a cab to the ScotiaCentre, not far away, and weeded into the 10,000 fans of a sold out show, making it down to the floor. Unlike in Edmonton, you can drink beer on the floor. And so we did.

The show was amazing from the get-go. Opening up with the classic "Limelight" and continuing on, they played nine songs from their new album, which is unheard of for an old band like Rush, but they also played a lot of old B-side gems like Entre Nous, Natural Science, Witch Hunt, and Between the Wheels. It wasn't your usual Rush "greatest hits" show, although they did play a few standards. This was a different show--a spiritually oriented theme threaded through all of the songs, like they were trying to tell us something. Very Zen I'd say.

Here's a sample video, but from a different show. Same idea though.

Here's a crappy video from the actual show... if you can see 8 rows in on the floor on the left, about 5 seats in, that's me (!).

Cameos on the big screen from Bob & Doug Mackenzie, who introduced "The Larger Bowl" from their classic "Great White North" was hilarious. Then later the Southpark kids had a little band trying to play "Tom Sawyer" but Cartmen was hogging the mic. Then the real song kicked in.

See for yourself...

The funniest thing was seeing what Geddy would have behind him where his old bass amps used to go. Alex still has three big amps, but Geddy now goes directly into the system. Last tour, he had three coin operated dryers with concert shirts tumbling inside and every once in a while, a roadie would quietly hop on stage and insert some coins to get 'em going again. This tour, Geddy had three chicken rotissiere ovens and "Henhouse" written in "amp font" on the glass windows with four rows of actual chickens turning in each under a red lamp. Unbelievable!

What I enjoyed was watching my friend, who is so new to Rush it makes me ... (you don't wanna know), actually really enjoy the music, especially Neil Peart (pronounced "Peert"), the drum professor himself. When his solo came up, and the entire kit spun around, she nearly freaked. "I love him", she said, later the next day buying his bestselling book, "Ghost Rider - Travels on the Healing Road".

Here's the drum solo he did in Calgary back in July... You gotta watch this!!!

After the show we ended up at a local Irish pub where another live band was playing. Back at the hotel, I had to go to the bar and play "Xanadu" by Rush on the grand piano. Staff asked me to not do that. I cried, "But I just saw Rush!" You'd think I'd get some leeway because of that, but much to my chagrin, this was not the case.

Next day ... Parliament!

No comments: