Rush @ The Staples Center, Los Angeles CA 09/23/02
So in my community college days I finally let the Rush bug bite me. For years I was just about Dream Theater and Queensryche, having pushed Rush aside without giving them a proper chance, even though they had HEAVILY influenced my favorite progressive band, Dream Theater. I was familiar with the FM classic rock radio tracks but had never bothered to venture any deeper than that. While at work I overheard a couple customers walk by, an older gentleman and a younger guy. I caught only part of the conversation, he said something like “…and that was the 26th time I’d seen Rush.” I was astounded. How could a band have such a rabid, ultra loyal and dedicated fan base…especially a band that just “didn’t get.” So I decided to take a little chance. One day, on a whim, I ordered Moving Pictures and Exit…Stage Left from Amazon. That was one of the best purchases EVER.
Exit Stage Left was an awesome depiction of Rush in a live setting, and I also delved deep into Moving Pictures and discovered stunning gems like The Camera Eye, Vital Signs and Red Barchetta (this was my first time hearing the track!). I was floored by the detail, the technical wizardry, the shredding, Alex’s “lonely” sounding and sentimental yet rockin’ solos, Geddy’s intricate bass parts with that cool mid-range sound, and of course, Neil Peart’s god-like drum parts and poetic lyrics. Vinnie Paul of Pantera called Neil Peart “God on drums.” Pretty damn accurate.
So fast forward to the Staples Center gig in LA on the Vapor Trails Tour. It was the long awaited return of Rush to the stage after a long hiatus. Dbfield came along for the ride, we left Orange County fairly early and beat traffic. We sported our Dream Theater tshirts proudly hehe. While dining at the attached sports grill, a group of Rush fans sat at a nearby booth. I could hear one of the guys say “what’s with the Dream Theater shirts?” I’ve always felt that if you go to a live gig you wear ANOTHER BAND’S SWAG. Of course you’re there to support Rush, you bought the ticket didn’t you. Why not show your other favorite band some love?
Anyways, the show we received was much like the set depicted on the Rush In Rio DVD (one of the greatest concert DVDs EVER), with the exceptions being the absences of Closer to the Heart, Free Will and The Trees. However, we did get a couple seldom performed selections: Between the Sun and Moon and Vital Signs. OMG…when Vital Signs began, the Staples Center went ballistic. The synthesizer intro came over the PA, and the crowd began to roar and cheer. It was like a volume swell, a steady crescendo that eventually erupted by the time Alex and Neil joined in. We were seated in the middle deck, and we could feel a rumble beneath our feet. I swear it felt like the section was moving, as if an earth quake was taking place. That had to have been the song of the night. The set length was very generous, there wasn’t even an opening act on this tour, it was extremely cool. The set had to have clocked in at 3 hours with a brief intermission. The value was incredible. The set was a solid selection of songs, but there were many favorites of mine that were ommitted in favor of other well-known selections. This is a band with a wealth of quality material, it’s impossible to play all the good stuff within 3 hours. The new material sounded better live, with the standout track for me being “Earthshine.” Another very notable sequence was moving one-two punch of “The Pass” and “Bravado.” Wow, hearing those back to back was breathtaking. And of course there was the devestating Neil Peart drum solo, including big band excerpts. The drum solo had to be one of the most entertaining solos I’d ever seen. And drum solos usually allow a fan to take a pee break or grab another beer. Not this one. That solo mesmerized the crowd. I was sold, I was now a fan, and quickly became a die-hard. Very awesome first experience seeing Rush, I just wish the sound quality was a tad better. There was some distortion and a lot of mid range for some reason – I’ll blame it on the Staples Center’s crappy acoustics. But whenever I tire of a disc, mood or trend, I go back to Rush. Whenever I feel like practicing, I go back to some Rush tracks. Whenever I want to immerse myself in poetic story telling with vivid imagery, I listen to Rush. I may have jumped on a bit late, but I’m glad I didn’t miss this ride.
Distant Early Warning
New World Man
Roll the Bones
The Big Money
Between Sun and Moon
One Little Victory
Red Sector A
Leave That Thing Alone
2112 Part I: Overture
2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
La Villa Strangiato
The Spirit of Radio
By-Tor & The Snow Dog