RUSH Takes Chicago on a Mind Trip Through Memory Lane

United Center – Chicago, IL

Rush is:
Geddy Lee
Alex Lifeson
Neil Peart

Rush-United Center, Chicago 4-12-11 3

As I prepared to head down memory lane to see RUSH perform in Chicago, this being the first time seeing live, I was elated.  I  just finding out the day before I would be doing this show, I jumped up and did my best air guitar lick and asked a friend and fan of Rush (27 shows) to join me.

As I waited for my press pass, I noticed we were not asked to sign any photo release paperwork.  With all the madness of other big name acts asking photographers to sign their life away, it was very nice to see a band as HUGE as Rush not asking us to sign all our rights away.

As we entered the venue, we were asked to shoot from just one side of the stage (due to a video camera on tracks), so we all crowded in and waited.  The lights dimmed and a short video came on of a mock band called RASH and the guys all dressed in costumes, using a time machine to travel through 30+ years of their music.  As the video ended, BAM – “The Sprit of Radio” opens the show.  This is one of my favorite songs and off I was, in my own time machine of memories.

The guys in Rush are some of the best musicians around and they proved it tonight. Geddy Lee is a master showman.  His vocals are still as high and not much lost in his vocal range for being an elder statesman of ROCK.  Just watching him you can sense he has a great sense of humor and a bounce in his step that keeps him young.  The way he went from singing, playing bass, and then keyboards effortlessly just proved how incredibly gifted he is.

Alex Lifeson is one of my favorite guitar players of all time.  If you play guitar, or even just listen to rock music in one way or another, you have heard his influence in guitar playing.  If there is one complaint about his performance, it would be that he stayed more to his side of the stage and middle.  Being on the side of the stage where Lee was, I eagerly waited for him to come over.  I do understand he is committed to his pedal board, so it’s just a small complaint.  Otherwise, his guitar playing was a site to behold.  He was a master of his instrument and made it wail in any style he switched to. The interaction between Lifeson & Lee is fun to watch, as they would talk to each other as they played.  At one point, Lifeson stuck his tongue out at Lee as he moved away.

Most of the night was filled with classic hits, but they did play two songs of their upcoming new album, Clockwork Angels – “Caravan,” and “BU2B.” They ended the first set with “Subdivisions.”

As they left the stage for 20+ minute break, Lee told the crowd they are getting old and need to rest for a bit.  As we waited, I noticed the stage was not a huge setup with props.  I also noticed the time machine was working and pumping out sausages; a nod to the video showing the manager and his love of sausages.  The backdrop was a huge screen and a lavish light set that moved around as they played the second set.

As the lights dimmed again, another video of the mock band came on.  I won’t give too much away, but it was pretty funny seeing them bounce from one age to another.

As the video ended, the classic “Tom Sawyer” began, which is a start to them playing the whole album, Moving  Pictures in its entirety.  I am sure most RUSH fans are used to this, but my jaw just dropped as they played the whole album live in front of me.

After the songs from  Moving Pictures ended, they played the new song, “Caravan.”  As Lee & Lifeson left the stage, it was time for Neil Peart to do what many other drummers try to do but can’t come close to – the DRUM SOLO.  Peart is by far one the best drummers Rock music has ever had.  He incorporates many styles in a mix of his own.  Surrounded by a complete circle of drums, he showed Chicago why he is so revered.

As the rest of the guys came back, they played “Closer to the Heart.”  As the song ended, the lights went out and the Starman logo appeared on the screen and the crowd erupted.  They played the songs “Overture” and “The Temples of Syrinx” from the album 2112. They had the crowd going for sure.

They ended the set with “Far Cry” and left the stage for a very brief rest before coming back for an Encore.  Alex Lifeson, playing an acoustic guitar and lone spotlight, preformed a piece from La Villa Strangiato showing his control over his guitar.

The last song of the night was the blue collar man’s theme song, “Working Man,” which had a loose world music vibe to it before it tightened up in the classic hit we all know.  What a great way to end an amazing night of music.

Setlist is:
The Spirit of Radio
Time Stand Still
Stick it Out
Workin’ Them Angels
Leave That Thing Alone
Tom Sawyer
Red Barchetta
The Camera Eye
Witch Hunt
Vital Signs
Drum Solo
Closer To The Heart
The Temples of Syrinx
Far Cry
La Villa Strangiato
Working Man

Click on Thumbnails to enlarge photos:

written by Peter Lizano

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  1. Davita says:

    Awesome article Pete!! Your pictures are amazing!!! Rush is the GREATEST band of all time!

  2. Kathy says:

    Awesome pix. It’s like I was there!! Wish I could’ve been

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