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Wembley Arena,London 8 September 2004
Well I have to admit that I'm an unashamedly
'Old-school' Rush Fan and when I say 'old-school' I
mean I really enjoy their material up to Permanent
Waves when they kinda lost me, but having received a
copy of the Rush in Rio DVD last Christmas, it rather
ignited my passion in listening to the band's material
again. Sure I love the old classics like By-Tor and
the Snow Dog, Bastille Day etc and of course Xanadu,
but some of their output from the 1980s which I'd
never heard before, sounded pretty decent too.
I was therefore quite pleased when they announced an
Arena tour of the UK, but having dawdled over buying
tickets the moment they went on sale, it was not until
last weekend that I picked up some tickets for the
Wembley gig, from a friend who could no longer make
Walking up to the venue last night you could hear the
bass booming for quite some distance away. The band
were well into their set and playing 'Earthshine' when
I finally got inside. To be honest the sound wasn't
too bad at all, certainly it was better than it was at
my previous concert experiences at the same venue. It
was definately very loud, but overall quite well
balanced, although one or two of Alex's solos did
struggle to be heard above the sound that the other
musicians were making.
The visual aspect of the show was fantastic with both
the lighting and use of the video screen stuff being
very impressive, as was that of the careful use of
lasers later in the show. Even the figures on stage at
the far end of the venue didn't seem to be that tiny,
but the light show was so impressive that one had a
tendency to admire the changes of colour and back
projections and rather forget the musicians
responsible for making all the noise.
Even tunes like 'Red Barchetta' and 'Roll The Bones'
sounded pretty good, but the crowd really got excited
as they moved into 'YYZ' and the video screen showed
Alex, Geddy ane Neil one by one in close up. Then it
was big favourite 'The Trees' - which was far more my
kind of thing.
After a 20 minute or so break, the second half of the
show began with the 'That Darned Dragon' cartoon which
has the intrepid trio saving some big city from some
Godzilla-like Dragon. The closing music links neatly
with the intro to 'Tom Sawyer' and the return of our
heroes on stage.
From there, the band moved into
playing a string of tunes from the albums that they
produced in the 1980s and 1990s, which, with the
exception of the very engaging 'Red Sector A' (and
accompanying video) I found no more than 'OK'.
No Rush concert (that I've ever attended) is complete
without a Neal Peart drum solo, but even though one
could see that it was technically excellent, I'd be
quite happy if I never saw another drum solo in my
While Neal took a break, Alex and Geddy
entertained us on acoustic for a couple of tunes,
before a rousing run of 'old classics' to end the set.
A shortened but still excellent '2112' (Oh how i love
to hear that 'we have assumed control' ending), 'La
Villa strangiato' with Alex's always orgasmic solo (I
can't think of many much better than this), 'By-Tor'
and 'Xanadu' which all take me back to a time when I
was leaping about my bedroom with a tennis racket as
guitar. Then 'Working Man' closed out the set, neatly
reminding us that these guys have been at it for 30
Of course there were a couple of encores, but half-way
through 'Limelight' it was time to beat the rush and
Overall, a great visual and sonic experience. It was
great to see the band for the first time in almost 25
years and I think that every Rush fan will find that
it's well worth the 30 quid that the tickets cost. 2
and a half hours of great music, fantastic visuals and
light show, great sound and a run through some of the
finest music ever produced.
If you haven't got a ticket, the touts outside Wembley
last night couldn't get rid of their spares, even at
half price, so if you hang around one of the venues
over the next week, you might just get yourself a
Anyone curious about the full setlist, can find it
the band are playing the same setlist each night of the tour.
Review: Charlie Farrell