Begin the day with a friendly choice, a companion unobtrusive…


In the summer of 1980, I bought my first stereo. And then I started to buy records, though I’m not sure what my first purchase was. I’ve probably blocked it out because of the whole Christopher Cross/Air Supply thing.


What I do remember is that my good Pam – who I spent 4 years with in independent-study math – and I had a deal. I would buy a record, and she would buy two tapes, so we could each have one (she had a cassette deck in her car but no stereo at home).


And the first record that I bought for this was…


Permanent Waves


27 years later, I took my 13-year-old daughter (and my wife) to see Rush at the White River Amphitheater, for the “Snakes and Arrows” tour.


Before the concert, I had two big questions in my mind.


The first question was whether, to put it simply, they could still rock. After all, they’re all in their mid-50s these days, and there aren’t many active rockers that age any more.


The second question was what songs they would play. When a group has created 18 studio albums, they have around 200 songs that they can choose from, and of course I had my own personal favorites I was hoping to hear.


The answer to the first question is a resounding “yes”. The band was musically tight. And despite having 30 years of rock on his voice, Geddy Lee has lost a surprisingly small amount of his vocal range. Lifeson and Peart are as good as they’ve ever been. And they are clearly enjoying performing.


The second question had an interesting answer. Here are the songs I remember, in album order (freewill was first, YYZ was last).



  • A passage to bangkok (2112)

  • Closer to the heart (AFtK)

  • Circumstances (H)

  • Spirit of radio (PW)

  • Freewill (PW)

  • Entre Nous (PW)

  • Natural science (PW)

  • Tom sawyer (MP)

  • YYZ (MP)

  • Limelight (MP)

  • Witch Hunt (MP)

  • Subdivisions (Signals)

  • Digital man (Signals)

  • Distant early warning (GUP)

  • Red Sector A (GUP)

  • All of Snakes and Arrows

There’s something very interesting there. First, there are no songs (unless I missed some) from the last 5 albums (PW, HYF, Presto, RtB, VT). Second, they are all themetic in nature – along the lines of the new album. For me, there were a couple of nice surprises – Entre Nous and Natural Science have alway been favorites of mine.


The sound was pretty good. The shape of the amphitheater helps, and the fact that there are no back and side walls means there are fewer reflections. The sound level wasn’t Green Day loud, but I was still happy to have my Etymotics ear plugs with me.


Comments (8)

  1. Isorski says:

    Hey I was at the show too and agree the set list was really killer. I wrote a review at http://isorski.blogspot.com/. Check it out!

  2. Scot B. says:

    Not only has Geddy kept his form, but I was completely blown away by Peart’s drum solo.

    Btw, the last five albums include Counterparts and Test for Echo.  And I thought they did One Little Victory from Vapor Trails.

  3. Jeff Odell says:

    Saw the show in Tampa and was similarly impressed.  The last time I’d seen Rush?  1974 – I kid you not.  Then they were a warm up act for Blue Oyster Cult.

    I took my 18 year old son.  He is pretty in to music and since then, we rented a Rush show on DVD from their previous tour.  I caught him showing it to his buddy – I think he enjoyed the whole show.

    Agreed the drum solo was worth the price of admission.

    You forgot to mention the chicken rotissaries!

    It’s really just a question of your honesty…

  4. Binaryjam says:

    Hey that title sounds familar, oh no I’m going to be huming it all day now.

    Sounds like a good show been a long time since I saw Rush in concert, I went to the roll the bones tour at the NEC in UK.  It was great everyone had similar worries then too, could they pull it off they have been going for quite a while and pull it off they did seems like they always will.

  5. Jason Bock says:

    Can’t wait until they come to St. Paul on Sept. 9th at the Xcel Center. I’ve heard nothing but good reviews about their shows this summer.

  6. Jeff Martin says:

    I saw them in Atlanta for the first show of the tour and it looks like they changed up the set list just a little.  From the albums you mentioned, they played…

    * Mission (HYF)

    * Dreamline (RtB)

    * Secret Touch (VT)

    * One Little Victory (VT)

    The only thing they played from GUP was Between the Wheels.  

  7. Timothy Knox says:

    One minor nit: PW as an album abbreviation can be either Permanent Waves or Power Windows. 😉

  8. GregM says:

    I saw them in Mansfield, MA, and they played Mission there too.  The show was awesome, as always.  Neil does the most fantastic drum solos.