After 40 some years of making music without conforming to label demands and being one of the most respected hard rock bands around, Rush celebrated their long successful career by putting on a spectacular show in San Jose, CA this past Thursday night (July 23, 2015).
The show at San Jose’s SAP Center would be my second time seeing Rush. Compared to the first time I saw them live, this would be a slightly different concert experience. When I saw Rush for the Clockwork Angels Tour back in 2011, I attended the show in an amphitheater. SAP is an indoor arena, so I was expecting a difference in sound quality. I was a bit worried about how they would sound since when I saw Metallica at the SAP Center, the audio quality that night did not sound great. With Rush I hoped that maybe the band’s crew would be more aware of how to get the most optimal sound out of the building. Sure enough, that night was probably one of the best sounding concerts I have attended.
Right when you stepped into the SAP Center their was this positive energy flowing throughout the place. All the fans were excited and everyone had on their Rush shirts. The merchandise lines were extremely long with fans hoping to snag some of those new R40 Tour concert shirts. Sitting down in my seat, I was surprised to get a really good view of the stage. Whoever set up the stage did a great job along with the placement of the video monitors for people who might not be able to get a direct clear view of the stage. As it got closer to showtime the fans became restless and when the lights finally went down everyone completely went crazy. A loud crack of distortion came from Alex’s amp and the band took to the stage.
For the first few songs, the band played material from their last album, Clockwork Angels. There were some fans who did not feverishly rock out to these songs since they are not part of the Rush classic repertoire. However, the die hard fans knew every word, guitar riff, bass line and drum beat. When “Headlong Flight” started up I thought that I was going to melt from the power of Alex and Geddy’s monstrous sounding riffs. Neil even did a brief drum solo too inject some more power into the piece. After the Clockwork Angels material the band went back to Snakes and Arrows.
Eventually, if you had not already read the set list online, you would notice that Rush was going backwards into their discography with each song. Right after “The Main Monkey Business,” the band played “One Little Victory” and then after they played one of their heaviest songs, “Animate.” Rush’s last two songs of their first set were, “Distant Early Warning” and “Subdivisions.” I really enjoyed “Distant Early Warning” since the song is not played live often, yet they did a phenomenal job. Once the band finished set number one they took a well deserved break and the fans went to go get either merchandise or something to drink.
Set two came as a pleasant surprise and added more to the already brilliant performance. Rush started with a humorous video clip and then began “Tom Sawyer” after the classic South Park clip was played. “YYZ” followed up and Geddy played some unbelievable bass fills during the song. Of course, Alex’s solo was down right amazing and Neil never missed a beat. The band played three songs from Permanent Waves which were “The Spirit of Radio,” “Natural Science,” and “Jacob’s Ladder.” Once the band started up “Jacob’s Ladder,” the lighting crew perfectly synced the music up with these different colored lights. Rush continue to pull out classics from their catalog with “Cygnus X-1,” “Xanadu,” and a “2112” medley. During “Cygnus X-1,” Neil broke into an epic drum solo that only goes to prove why he is one of the most brilliant drumming minds in rock and roll.
Towards the end, I was really happy to hear the band play “Lakeside Park” and “Anthem” which are two songs featured on two of my favorite albums. Also, when they played “Lakeside Park,” there was a cardboard cut out of Kiss on stage to poke fun at how they opened up for Kiss back in the seventies. The final two songs were off the band’s self-titled first album with the last one being “Working Man.” There was an image of a High Scchool gym behind them to reference how when the band first started out, they used to play at High School dances. Even after two sets Rush never slowed down and kept playing with passion until the very last note.
Now, there is talk that this could be the band’s last major tour. I want to assure people that if the band decides to maybe play less shows in the future, it is not because they cannot play their instruments anymore. Rush is one of the most professional and amazing sounding bands I have seen live in my life. If you ever have the opportunity to go and see them...do not hesitate and just get your ass down to the venue! Once they play that song that makes you come alive and start uncontrollably rocking out... you will be extremely glad you went!