Rush, 'Clockwork Angels' Tour: Anaheim Concert Review
By choosing to make their latest album the centerpiece of their epic three-hour show, as opposed to merely dropping in a few new tunes, the prog icons further proved why their faithful legion of enthusiasts will always return for more – because this is a band that pushes its audience the same way it pushes itself.
Opening at the Honda Center in Anaheim last Saturday night, Nov. 17, with a set of primarily deep cut favorites, the chops-heavy trio showed off their renowned, blue collar-like precision against a backdrop of spectacularly produced fantasy videos. Their steam punk-themed stage set up, replete with a brain specimen, Victrola, and working popcorn machine, provided a surrealistic-but-silly touch; a physical reminder that no matter how serious they take the music, they still have a sense of humor about themselves.
Geddy Lee's vocals still soar, and he still dances playfully about the stage, alternating between bass and synthesizers. Guitarist Alex Lifeson's crunchy rhythms and soaring solos are all as tasteful and tuneful as ever. Then there is the stone-faced Neil Peart, who sits nobly behind the largest kit in rock 'n' roll - he is a wonder to behold; stately and machine-like, still producing sounds no other drummer on the planet can approach.
Set one included "Subdivisions," "The Big Money," and "Limelight," among a host of other tunes before the band took a short break and returned with the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble, a touring string section which gave the band an added layer of subtle musical muscle as they presented the latest album.
There were more eye-popping videos and dazzling light displays, coupled with some explosive pyrotechnics. But the effects held nothing compared to the musical prowess; three men still at the top of their game that know precisely how to deliver a roof-raising performance. "The Wreckers" in particular was a sublime example of the breadth of this band, just as able to deliver a melodic, hook-heavy rocker as they are a mind-churning, time-changing prog-rock staple like "YYZ," which was part of the closing "act" that featured some of the most time-tested Rush classics.
"The Spirit of Radio," "Tom Sawyer," and the still-spectacular "2112" (Part 1: Overture Part I: Overture, Part II: The Temples of Syrinx and Part VII: Grand Finale) brought the house down with a triumphant rush of historic fanfare. 2112 in particular still exudes a majestic, towering space age grace; sort of a Rush National Anthem.
And the fans, thrilled as always to be in the presence of their musical heroes, responded in kind with waves of love and admiration. The bond between this band and fan remains as it has for years, one of deep trust and mutual respect.
Whether they earn their much deserved Rock and Roll Hall of Fame stripes in the next few months or not, we at Noisecreep hail the mighty trio for being what they are, simply one of the greatest bands, and live acts, in modern music history. Rush to see this show.