Live Report - Rush – 19th May 2011 – MEN Arena, Manchester, UK
Live Gig

Release year: 0
Reviewed by Goat

“So, is this your first time seeing them?” I asked the man sat next to me. “You mean on this tour?” he replied, fixing me with the steely-eyed gaze of a true fanatic. It was at that moment I realised just how out of my depth I was, a suspicion of which had been brewing throughout the evening. I thought I, with my obsessive listening and entire-discography ownership, was a fan, but compared to these people who had been following Rush for years, I was nothing. A big hint of this came as I arrived at the MEN Arena and marvelled at the sheer numbers attending the gig, no two wearing the same Rush t-shirt. The crowds jostling at the multiple merch stands shocked me even more than the prices (£60 for a hoodie!) which just goes to show what a gig virgin I was, I suppose. Despite what you read from most first-timers, I wasn’t especially shocked by the volume of the show itself nor by the less-than-studio quality of the sound – you learn to put up with a lot when you’re used to grindcore demos, and despite a bassy sound so loud and booming I could feel the seats vibrating, the music itself came over wonderfully.

Rush in 2011 are a band long confident in themselves and their fans, and the varied set list reflected that. After an amusing intro video, the trio burst into The Spirit Of Radio flawlessly, following it with a heavied-up version of 1987’s Time Stand Still. Presto and Stick It Out helped to give the impression of an overview of Rush’s late-eighties-early-nineties period, Workin’ Them Angels bringing us nearly up to date with majestic emotional weight. I was impressed by the set list throughout (“no Manhattan Project!” sniffed my more experienced friend) which continued with funky instrumental Leave That Thing Alone and a kind of atheist triptych as the heartfelt Faithless, the stoner-ish BU2B and the classic Freewill rang out, all getting rapturous applause from an audience that often struggled to contain itself. One moment of rapturous Rushian joy had a middle-aged man near me on his feet and jerkily headbanging, lost in memories and music.

Two more eighties classics in the shape of Marathon and Subdivisions brought us to the intermission, after which the real highlights of the show began. We were gifted to Moving Pictures in its entirety, by lucky coincidence my first album from the band and still one of my favourites. It’s not their heaviest album, not their proggiest, not the first album that I reach for when wanting a Rush rush, but despite that it holds a special place in my and every fan of the band’s hearts. Hearing The Camera Eye was especially moving as it is very rarely played live, the lengthy paean to two cities and the people that fill them receiving as warm a reaction as every other classic from the crowd. Even after that gift, Rush kept on giving – after new track Caravan, Neil Peart’s drum solo earned him a standing ovation from all as his mad skills impressed yet again with what must be his best workout to date, Love 4 Sale. A brief solo bit of acoustic guitar from Alex Lifeson introduced Closer To The Heart, before whooshing synths introduced my favourite part of the night, the Overture and Temples Of Syrinx from classic twenty-minuter 2112. Yes, it would have been nice to hear the whole thing, but standing with a crowd cheering as one after each riff to one of the finest bits of hard rock ever is a wonderful experience.

Rush could have ended the show there, such was the high, but quickly continued with Far Cry (now a stable and suitable part of their live repertoire, it seems) before departing and returning for the encore – La Villa Strangiato and Working Man, the latter opening in reggae fashion and proceeding into the biggest rock-out finale you’ve ever heard, complete with a section from Cygnus X-I Book I. Even after they were off the stage after rapturous applause, Rush kept entertaining – the closing video featuring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel as funny as the other interludes to the point where I’m considering watching I Love You Man again! All in all, a fantastic night out from a master trio of showmen and expert musicians, and a great way to open myself to the world of live music.

Killing Songs :
The Spirit Of Radio, Presto, Workin’ Them Angels, Faithless, Freewill, Subdivisions, the whole of Moving Pictures, Caravan, Love 4 Sale, Closer To The Heart, 2112, La Villa Strangiato, Working Man
Goat quoted
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Live Report - King Crimson - Uncertain Times Tour - 9th November 2018 - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, UK reviewed by Goat and quoted
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