I rolled into Philadelphia exhausted and thinking about death. I had just lost a loved one to cancer and needless to say I wasn’t in the mood for a party. But once I arrived at the Wells-Fargo Stadium my spirits started to lift. The place was packed and the crowd was diverse. It started to come back to me, how much I’ve loved this band since 1984, when my older brother brought home Caress of Steel on LP and The Necromancer blew my mind. I had no idea that rock music could capture what I loved about fantasy literature, or literature in general. I was about to see the “world’s greatest band” perform for the fourth time. A selection of prog-rock favorites played through the stadium speaker system got me even more excited. Finally, the lights dimmed and Rush hit the stage.
RUSH R40 – The First Set
R40 is a retrospective tour and the set is arranged in reverse chronological order in three sections (hey, it don’t get any mo’ prog than that, folks!). The first three numbers – The Anarchist, Clockwork Angels, Headlong Flight – were culled from the recent concept album Clockwork Angels. The band was in fine form, reveling in the complex arrangements and playing with uncanny precision.
Next up were two numbers from my favorite recent Rush album, Snakes & Arrows: Far Cry and The Main Monkey Business. However, about this time the chugging mid-tempo riffs and drony vocal melodies of ladder-day Rush started to wear me out a little. I started to feel tired again and I admit to “old fan” feelings of just wanting to hear a tried and true classic. The band leaned into One Little Victory from Vapor Trails but I wasn’t feeling it, I sat down. Next up was Animate, another drony number, from Counterparts, one of my least favorite Rush albums.
Just when the buzz was starting to wear off the audience was rewarded with Distant Early Warning and Subdivisions. I was on my feet again! It was great to hear these songs played live. When I closed my eyes I could have been listening to them on the Grace Under Pressure Tour. That wrapped up the first set. After a quick beer and breath of air it was back to the music. From this point on, the show was nothing but pure ascent. These sixty-something elder statesmen of rock could mop up the stage with any young band going today. This is why Rush is legendary.
RUSH R40 – The Second Set
The second set kicked off with Tom Sawyer, followed by YYZ and Spirit of Radio. But if anyone was expecting a “greatest hits” styled revue they were in for a big – and very pleasant – surprise. The whole packed-to-capacity arena pretty much shared a mass orgasm when Rush broke into Natural Science – all of it! – followed by Jacob’s Ladder, a song Rush probably hasn’t played in more than thirty years. Follow that up with Hemispheres and Cygnus X-1 connected by Neil Peart’s drum solo and you’re in prog-rock heaven.
Closer To the Heart followed, made all the more joyous by the millisecond’s-long smile Peart flashed after adding some impromptu cowbell to the wind-up. Next up was Xanadu, played to perfection, and most of 2112. The show could have ended there and no one would have felt cheated. But this is Rush we’re talking about: of course there was more!
RUSH R40 – The Encore!
After a brief break Rush stormed the stage for the third set/encore, rewarding half the audience and losing the other half by playing Lakeside Park; given my introduction to the band you can imagine my happiness as warm waves of nostalgia chased away the last of my bad vibes. The good vibrations continued with Anthem (a song I was really hoping they’d play), What You’re Doing (seriously! I got to see Rush perform What You’re Doing!) and finally Working Man. It was interesting to hear Peart play John Rutsey’s drum parts; he seemed bemused by it all, adding flourishes wherever possible. And then it was over. But what a night it was.
RUSH R40 – The Fun In Between Stuff
As always, the show was filled out with hilarious video intros and clips and the added fun of Rush using all their original laser and light effects (along with some vintage video) to accompany each song. My favorite bit was seeing Eugene Levy return to the fold as the tacky/clueless MC of Mel’s Rockpile, introducing the encore. Classic!
I was afraid that seeing Rush would leave me feeling old and sadly nostalgic. But Rush is a greater band than that. Seeing them play left me feeling young, renewed, optimistic; their energy and excitement are irresistible. They are one of the most aptly-named rock bands of all time; a rush is exactly what you get from their music. Long live The Greatest Band In The World.
Geddy Lee: RUSH R40 – Bass Guitar Gear List
Bass players were treated to a nonstop parade of Geddy’s most famous axes (notably absent was the Steinberger, since they skipped over most of their 80’s oeuvre). Here’s a complete list:
- 1972 Fender Jazz Bass (Black) My Number One
- 1972 Fender Jazz Bass (Blonde)
- Fender Jazz Bass (Surf Green Custom Shop)
- Fender Jazz Bass (Trans Red Custom Shop)
- 1960 Fender Jazz Bass (Fiesta Red)
- 1962 Fender Jazz Bass (Sea Foam Green)
- 1963 Fender Jazz Bass (Black with matching headstock)
- 1964 Fender Jazz Bass (Lake Placid Blue with matching headstock)
- 1964 Fender Jazz Bass (Sonic Blue with matching headstock)
- 1965 Fender Jazz Bass (White)
- 1966 Fender Jazz Bass (Shoreline Gold with matching headstock)
- 1966 Fender Jazz Bass (Fiesta Red with matching headstock)
- 1957 Gibson EB-1 (Walnut)
- 1964 Gibson Thunderbird IV (Sunburst)
- 1964 Epiphone Embassy (Cherry)
- 1967 Gibson Thunderbird II (Polaris White)
- 1959 Fender Precision Bass (Olympic White) with matching headstock
- 1965 Fender Precision Bass (Burgundy Mist)
- 1968 Fender Telecaster Bass (Paisley)
- 1967 Rickenbacker Model 3261 (FireGlo)
- 1968 Rickenbacker Model 4001 (BurgundyGlo)
- 1977 Rickenbacker Model 4001 (JetGlo)
- 1975 Rickenbacker Model 4080/12 (JetGlo)
- 1978 Rickenbacker Model 4080/12 (FireGlo)
- 1961 Hofner Solid Body 2 Pickup (Cherry Red)
- 1992 Zematis Bass (Black with engraved metal front)
RUSH R40 TOUR SETLIST
JUNE 25, 2015 – WELLS FARGO CENTER, PHILADELPHIA, PA, USA
We stuck with the RUSH R40 setlist in terms of just the songs that were played. For some live video and the full set list including the intros, outros, skits, etc., check out setlist.fm’s page for this show.
The First Set
- The Anarchist
- Clockwork Angels
- Headlong Flight (with “Drumbastica” mini drum solo)
- Far Cry
- The Main Monkey Business
- One Little Victory
- Roll the Bones (With ‘celebrity rappers’ video)
- Distant Early Warning
The Second Set
- Tom Sawyer
- The Spirit of Radio
- Natural Science
- Jacob’s Ladder
- Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres Part I: Prelude
- Cygnus X-1 (The Voyage Part 1 & 3 with drum solo)
- Closer to the Heart
- 2112 Part I: Overture
- 2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
- 2112 Part IV: Presentation
- 2112 Part VII: Grand Finale
- Lakeside Park
- What You’re Doing
- Working Man (with Garden Road outro)