Saturday Night: Rush At The Woodlands

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Photos by Groovehouse
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
September 25, 2010

For more images from Saturday's show, see our slideshow here.

The veteran Canadian nerd-rockers brought their Time Machine tour to The Woodlands Saturday night, with all that the name implies. The stage theme was a steampunk/circus big top mash-up, the video interludes consisted of temporal-themed comedy segments, and the band's set drew from the breadth of their catalog, reaching back to the mid-'70s as well as trying out a few new tracks from their upcoming album Clockwork Angels.

Rush's longevity (their eponymous debut album was released in 1974) and success (they trail only the Beatles and Rolling Stones in for most consecutive gold/platinum albums by a rock group) is testament not only to their work ethic and integrity, but to their rabid fans, who showed up in force to jam themselves into the Pavilion and see the band perform -- among other things -- their 1981 album Moving Pictures in its entirety.

They took the stage to "Spirit of Radio," one of their earliest radio hits, then segued into "Time Stand Still" from 1987's Hold Your Fire. The band knows their crowd, treating the audience to overhead shots of bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee's pedal array as well as drummer Neil Peart's kit, each of which were met with thunderous applause.

The next tracks were somewhat lesser known, including "Presto," "Leave That Thing Alone" (from Counterparts), the aforementioned unreleased cuts "Workin' Them Angels" from Snakes and Arrows and the aforementioned unreleased "BU2B." And if Aftermath may be permitted some minor editorializing, while we think we understand what the band was getting at with their accompanying video to "Angels," we're not sure depicting U.S. troops simultaneously carrying machine guns and sporting wings is exactly in keeping with New Testament doctrine.

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Then again, Peart reads a lot. Maybe he knows something we don't.

After "Freewill" and "Subdivisions" came Moving Pictures. The first side of that album is archetypal late era AOR: "Tom Sawyer," "Red Barchetta," ""YYZ" (even with the drum solo moved to a later portion of the concert), and you've still got "Limelight" and "Vital Signs" to come. Even that epitome of early 80s synth overload, "Camera Eye," impressed.

Of course, like that album, the band is noticeably older. Guitarist Alex Lifeson and Peart are decidedly beefier (Lifeson now looks like the offspring of our grandfather and Brock Sampson), while Lee has finally aged into his own wizened countenance, and they begged forgiveness for taking a couple breaks. Little of the onstage energy was missing, however. Lee and Lifeson obviously fed off the crowd's enthusiasm, and were as loose in attitude as they were tight technically.

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