This week I crossed something off my bucket list: I saw Rush live for the first time. I’ve spent a long time listening to Rush and all my life listening to classic rock. My parents’ first dance was to Guns ‘N’ Roses. In our house, we rarely listened to anything but classic rock.
My dad died from kidney cancer when I was 12, and classic rock became more than music to me: it became one of the connections I still have with a man who, for my life up until that point, mattered more to me than anyone else in the world. And I’m not the only one connected to their parents through this incredible music. I saw quite a few kids with their parents, proudly sporting Rush T-shirts and big grins. This is the power of great music. It attracts people of all ages, connects people of all generations. It gives us a piece of the past to hold on to and be proud of.
Knowing once upon a time Rush was a little local band also instills a certain sense of pride—those are our boys up there, shredding those guitars. Speaking of guitars, I actually lost count of the guitars they used. During the first half of the concert both Geddi Lee and Alex Lifeson went through a guitar every couple of songs. Halfway through the concert, they took a break and the drum kit was replaced too.
They played songs from several different albums, taking us on a journey back through time. The excitement was tangible when they reached the true classics, the first Rush songs many of us heard—”Tom Sawyer” and “Closer to the Heart” being my personal favourites from the selection.
I’ve been to a decent number of concerts for my age, seeing bands both new and old, and during this concert I realized something: in some ways, Rush isn’t as great a performance as other bands. There are pyrotechnics, but they don’t have “it”, the presence you remember musicians like Mick Jagger for.
So what do they have? They happen to be three of the most technically skilled musicians in rock and roll.
Neil Pert uses one of the largest drum kits in the world, possibly the largest drum kit in the world—although he didn’t have the full kit this time. And even after 40+ years of making incredible music, he still regularly pulls off 3-5 minute drum solos.
Geddi Lee and Alex Lifeson do crazy things with their instruments. They alternate between truly surreal sounds and typical rock and roll. And they still have lots of energy: this week’s concert was two and a half hours long.
These Toronto boys might never have had “it”, but they do have something else: the ability to connect radically different generations through the power of great music. And soon enough this concert will be part of a new Rush DVD, allowing me to share it with even more future generations.
The only thing I wish? That I could have shared this concert with my dad too.