Rush turns back time

Written By Shane Bliss

            Rush’s “Time Machine Tour” is aptly named, as the band showed no signs of slowing down at last Thursday’s show in the Consol Energy Center. It was also a very appropriate place, as drummer Neil Peart played his first ever show with the band at the Civic Arena in 1974.            “We’ve got about a hundred songs to play for you tonight,” sais singer/bassist Geddy Lee early in the show. Although that number was an exaggeration, the Canadian rock trio did perform a three-hour lineup covering all periods of their career, which spans 30 years..            The show’s highlight was a complete performance of the band’s most popular album, “Moving Pictures.” That portion showcased of some of their most well-known songs, including “Tom Sawyer,” “YYZ” and “Limelight.” Playing the album in its entirety also allowed the audiences to hear “The Camera Eye,” played for the first time in 28 years.            Plenty of other popular classics were played as well, including “The Spirit of Radio,” the show’s opener. Also included was a portion of the 20-minute tour-de -force “2112,” “Subdivisions,” “Closer to the Heart” and “Freewill.” The evening closed with an encore of more crowd favorites, each with a unique opening. The long instrumental “La Villa Strangiato” had a new polka-like opening, while the show’s closer, “Working Man,” began with a reggae flavor before heading into familiar territory.            There were plenty of songs for the longtime fans scattered throughout the first of two sets, too. These included “Time Stand Still,” “Marathon” and “Presto,” the last of which had never been performed live prior to this tour. Three songs that did not seem out of place at all when played alongside their extensive back catalog represented the band’s most recent album, “Snakes and Arrows.”            Lead singer Geddy Lee’s much maligned voice was in top form, as was his bass playing. His perfect singing of the incredibly high-pitched section of “Freewill” was met with great applause, as was guitarist Alex Lifeson’s spectacular solo during the same song. Lee’s impressive bass playing was front and center multiple times during the show, but he was at his best during “Red Barchetta” and the instrumental “Leave That Thing Alone.”            If the scope of drummer Neil Peart’s ability was not obvious enough, his eight-minute drum solo drove that point home. It made full use of his massive drumkit, which included an electronic drum portion and a xylophone. It concluded, as usual, by playing along to a big band tune. This time the song of choice was “Love for Sale.”            The show was not all serious business, either. Both sets opened with humorous videos featuring the band members playing the parts of a police officer, restaurant owner, director, band manager and a morbidly obese restaurant patron. Following the encore, there was one more video. This time, the band members played themselves with the cast of “I Love You, Man,” a film which the band appeared in.            It really was an amazing evening showcasing how great these three musicians are, and how powerful their music has been through the past 30-plus years. But the Time Machine Tour did not just serve to relive the past. There were a couple of looks into the future as well. The band played two songs, “Caravan” and “BU2B,” that will be released on the band’s new album next year. And if those two powerful songs are any indication, Rush’s future may be just as great as its past.