Rush / June 14, 2008 / Philadelphia (Wachovia Center)
Rush fans are a diehard, Grateful Dead-like community of people from all walks of life.Rush fans are a diehard, Grateful Dead-like community of people from all walks of life. Rush shows might be some of the only places in America where a staunch conservative Bushie and a radical Ron Paul fan can hang back and put away their political differences to wax nostalgic about their first Rush concerts, as did happen in the parking lot of the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia on Father's Day Eve.
However, unlike the Dead, Rush are not exactly as flexible with their set list, meaning whatever order fans downloaded off the Internet for the opening night is pretty much the one the band sticks to throughout the tour. But for this second leg, the focus was more on classic material, whereas the 2007 tour dedicated a good portion of the show to the album Rush is touring behind, the excellent "Snakes and Arrows."
And the extra amount of guitar fuzz that permeates the "Snakes" material certainly has seeped into the performances of the older stuff as well. And it was all the better for the 9,000 men (and few odd women scattered throughout) air drumming in unison to meaty, beaty rips through "Limelight," "Spirit of Radio" and "Subdivisions." As ever, they were trying futilely to keep up with the breakneck pace of drum clinic superhero Neil Peart, who is always amazing (although he seems to be running in place a bit these days during his epic drum solos).
Saluting the hometown Phillies on his red T-shirt, frontman Geddy Lee was in top form, stealing back "YYZ" from Primus and making performances of such Rush staples as "The Trees," "Freewill" and "Dreamline" tastier than ever. Similarly, guitarist Alex Lifeson, one of the true six-string underdogs in rock, sizzled on solos during "Red Barchetta" and the last album's "Workin' Them Angels."
Devotees were surely overjoyed by such deep album cuts as "Natural Science" from 1980's "Permanent Waves" and "Digital Man" from 1983's "Signals." Of course, no Rush concert would be complete without the visuals. But if you saw them last summer, you certainly didn't miss anything new. For a moment it seemed weird that there were so many girls in the parking lot wearing grass skirts and parrots on their heads, until it became clear they were tailgating for the Jimmy Buffett concert happening right next door at Citizens Bank park.
Indeed, it was still a total sausage party on our end. Some things about a Rush show will just never change.