Rush :: Clockwork Angels Tour
There are few rock bands that have survived the decades with the effectiveness of Rush. After their first major debut in 1974, the eccentric trio became an instant favorite with audiences. Industry sources usually attribute over 40 million in album sales by the Canadian band. Unlike many groups of the classic rock era, Rush continues to regularly release albums. The current Clockwork Angels Tour made its Boston stop at TD Garden on October 24.
Rush opted to forego an opening act on this tour. The band receives little to no airplay in most markets but retains an enormous fanbase that regularly packs venues, rendering airplay unnecessary. Their Boston show was no exception. Thousands of excited screaming Rush fans, mostly middle-aged males, whipped into a flurry of air-guitars and faux-drumming as the band took to the stage to perform "Subdivisions."
With impressive dexterity, the band operated both their instruments and MIDI controllers with extraordinary perfection. These are three guys that obviously love performing live. Quirky lead singer Geddy Lee did most of the talking, good-naturedly addressing the crowd and poking fun at the irony of the band members’ ages in contrast to their intense performances.
Rush is an interesting band in that their melodically complex songs of science-fiction philosophy and fancifully rapid instrumentals seem designed for a specific subset of people and aren’t very accessible to the mainstream. Science lab gadgetry comprised the stage props as goofy fantasy scenes dominated the giant screens, like an acid trip with the hedonism removed. Most mainstream rock fans would be hard-pressed to recall the lyrics to "Tom Sawyer," even while the audience erupted into a unanimous singing frenzy of it at TD Garden during the encore.
The band’s only consistent overlap with the mainstream has been its humanitarian work and inclusive progressive politics. The group famously reprimanded pundit Rush Limbaugh for using their music during his show, demanding he stop. And Rush fan groups often donate to local, national, and international causes on behalf of their rock idols.
Perhaps the coolest twist to Rush’s current tour is the inclusion of a string ensemble for the post-intermission act. The musical aesthetic provided by the addition was incredibly powerful. Strings usually have an underutilized presence in rock music, thankfully not so here.
By the time the band left, they had been the sole performer during the past three hours. Neither the audience nor Rush showed a sign of fatigue, despite the band’s single performance requiring more gruelling musical acumen than many younger artists are expected to ever show at all.
Fans can be reassured that this rock trio is still in top form with no signs of slowing. And any lover of music would be hard-pressed not to enjoy an evening with the jovial, talented, and politically conscientious members of Rush.
Rush is currently touring the US. Tour information and tickets can be found at the official Rush website.