Rush - Sheffield Motorpoint Arena (28/05/2013)

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Rush - Sheffield Motorpoint Arena (28/05/2013)

Postby Rockingbear » Thu May 30, 2013 2:29 am

Clockwork Angels Tour 2013
Sheffield Motorpoint Arena
Tuesday 28th May 2013

So how many bands could come on stage, to a two-thirds full arena and omit more than a dozen classic songs from their back catalogue (“Limelight”, “La Villa Strangiato”, “Fly By Night”, “Working Man”, “Xanadu”, “Closer To The Heart”, “Red Barchetta”, “A Passage To Bangkok”, “The Trees”, “The Pass”, “Dreamline” and “Freewill”), play four instrumentals, include three drum solos, add a classical string section and play nine consecutive tracks from their latest album and still put on one of the greatest live performances you are ever likely to witness?

The pre-show intro’s and outro’s had the “The Holy Triumvirate” as Gnomes (well two Gomes and a Troll) with a taxman trying helplessly to find the Watchmaker. The latter exhibits Rush’s sense of humour, however, I did not think that they were quite as funny as the ones used on 2011’s “Time Machine Tour” with one exception (see later).

Despite the arena only being two-thirds full there was a tangible atmosphere within the venue. Rush’s popularity does not come from casual fans or one or two famous songs but die-hard fans, some of which have followed them throughout their 39 year career! The sound was big and full even if a little muddy when they first hit the stage but it soon settled down to be excellent if not perfect. The first set was deep album cuts mainly from the keyboard-influenced albums of the eighties and early nineties bookended by two veritable Rush classics. The driving keyboards of “Subdivisions” opened what was to be an astonishing three hours of entertainment. The stage set was slightly smaller than the aforementioned “Time Machine Tour” and the first set only eluded what we were about to receive in the second half of the show. The large, high definition screen, that spanned the width of the stage, meant that everyone could enjoy the show whatever their vantage point. We started off at the rear of the arena but manage to move closer, on the sides, for the second half (sound was equally good in both positions). By the time the band were into the second song of the evening, “Big Money” from 1986’s “Power Windows” album, it was clear that Geddy Lee’s voice was in the best shape it had been for years. The back screen was used to play video during certain tracks and close-ups of the band during others. The lighting and back-drops were never the same which was a remarkable feat in itself with the number of songs played over the whole evening.

“Force Ten” from 1987’s “Hold Your Fire” received a great ovation; this was the tour that I first saw Rush on over 26 years ago having been an avid fan since 1980.

The next four songs I doubt many people would have picked in constructing the set-list but they were executed perfectly and went down well with the die-hard fans: “Grand Designs” and “Territories” from the much underrated “Power Windows” album; “The Body Electric” from 1984’s “Grace Under Pressure”; and the stunning “The Analog Kid” from 1982’s “Signals”. These songs all highlight the intensity of Rush songs but also the immense melody contained within them all, however, one of Rush’s most melodic songs was, for me personally, the highlight of Set One: “Bravado” from 1991’s “Roll The Bones”. The melody continued in this song even throughout Alex Lifeson’s glorious guitar solo.

The first of three drum solos from Neil “The Professor” Peart followed during the instrumental “Where’s My Thing?”, again from “Roll The Bones”.

The pyrotechnics during the new Millennium classic “Far Cry” brought the first set to a spectacular close and hinted what was to come in Set Two.
Both band and crowd took the opportunity to take a much needed comfort break.

The eight-piece Clockwork Angels String Ensemble were on-stage at the start of Set Two and played on twelve of the next fourteen songs including all nine from the last studio album, last year’s brilliant “Clockwork Angels”. At times they struggled to be heard over the wall of sound produced by Alex, Geddy and Neil but when they were they really augmented the songs. The violins played the guitar parts and the cellos the bass parts, sometimes matching those being played by Alex and Geddy. Dressed all in black the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble took up their position on a platform, just behind and slightly above Neil Peart’s drum kit. Only two sat down with the remaining six taking full advantage of the best view in the house. I can imagine, if any of them were not Rush fans prior to the tour, they will now be fans for life.

If Set One had been impressive then Set Two just took things to an even higher level: bigger sound, more lights, more grandiose videos and pyrotechnics galore!

All tracks from “Clockwork Angels” were played in full with the exceptions being “BU2B2” (ironically played on the last tour) and “Wish Them Well” and all in the same order as the album with the exception of “The Garden” and “Seven Cities Of Gold” the latter being the last played this evening. “Caravan” was thunderous with the pyrotechnics looking like they were going to engulf the stage at one time. Each song was beautifully played by both band and orchestra alike with personal highlights being the melodic “The Wreckers” and the booming “Headlong Flight”, the later including the second Neil Peart drum solo of the night. His drum kit cleverly rotates 180 degrees and Neil simply changes drum stools to give himself a second kit to play with! The “The Garden” saw a rare occurrence with Alex Lifeson playing keyboards and at one stage, I think during “Seven Cities Of Gold” Alex found himself on the platform jamming with the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble.

The band had taken a calculated risk playing so many tracks from their latest album and all in one go but with such an amazing presentation managed to pull it off with ease.

Throughout the whole show the band just appeared to be having fun on stage but still remaining the absolute consummate professionals.

“Manhattan Project”, the fourth song of the evening from “Power Windows”, with the orchestra, was simply breath-taking and staked a claim for best song of the set.

“The Percussor” saw an unprecedented third drum solo of the evening and still the crowd remained transfixed!

The red lighting and string section added to the haunting atmosphere of the superb “Red Sector A”. The lighting effects throughout the whole show were just incredible and it was if the band had over half a dozen separate sets within one rig!

The crowd nearly took the roof off the arena with the intro to “YYX” and even started sing along! The latter is strange as “YYZ” is an instrumental!

The Clockwork Angels String Ensemble left the stage to rapturous applause and the main set was brought to a stunning climax with “The Spirit Of Radio”.

The band briefly left the stage before returning for a deserved and expected encore commencing with the Rock Single of the Year back in 1981 “Tom Sawyer”. Three of the seven parts of the concept “2112” brought the whole show to an unbelievable “Grand Finale”. During “Overture” the iconic Starman appeared on the back screen and he was promptly replaced by Stewie from Family Guy, fully naked – hilarious!

27 songs in and Geddy’s vocals started to show a little fragility during “The Temples Of Syrinx” which would not have been the easiest song to sing back in 1976!

Grand Finale:

Attention all Planets of the Solar Federation
Attention all Planets of the Solar Federation
Attention all Planets of the Solar Federation
We have assumed control.
We have assumed control.
We have assumed control.

Rush certainly had; there are not many bands that can hold a crowd’s attention for over three hours and still leave them wanting for more!

Very little to grumble about this show. Maybe in these times of austerity, £60 is a little expensive for a single ticket, but those in attendance would surely testify that it was worth every penny.

So to conclude: Blah! Blah, blah blah! Blah! Blah, blah! Blah, blah, blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah, blah, blah, blah! ……. Blah! and BLAH!
Ol' 78
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Feb 20, 2011 1:58 am
Location: Sheffield, UK

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