fri 26/04/2019

Rush, O2 Arena | reviews, news & interviews

Rush, O2 Arena

Rush, O2 Arena

Canadian power-rock trio turn back the clock on their Time Machine tour

Geddy Lee: Like a character from 'Lord of the Rings'

Explosions, 40ft flames, light shows and back projections. It may have been at the Dome but at times it felt more like being in a music video. A mini-film opened the concert. Rush circa 1973 were boys called Rash, and they’d play only when professor Alex Lifeson operated his music machine. The contraption also had a button marked “Time Machine”. When pressed this catapulted the band, on stage, back and forth through their 37-year career. Every time the trio played songs from a different era, screens announced the year. Hours later, when we shot forward to the song "2112", several thousand middle-aged men started jumping up and down and shouting “Oi”.

Forged in the twin crucibles of Seventies progressive and hard rock, Rush exist outside of trends. Their natural demographic is the fans who grew up with them, their future the next generation of classic rockers. Last night's concert was part of the Time Machine tour, celebrating both the re-release of 1981’s Moving Pictures album, and the power of Canadian air to arrest the ageing process.The three veterans played for three hours like a gang of 16-year-olds who’ve just discovered guitars. And the crowd digested it with the appetite of teenagers who’ve just realised how much those guitars annoy their parents.

Amid the time-machine dials, old Wurlitzers and sausage machine on stage, Lee, Lifeson and Peart stretched the sound of a rock trio as far as any act currently active, including Muse. Their music incorporated the complexity of jazz, the volume of metal and a variety of rhythms including reggae. During Neil Peart’s jaw-dropping drum solo those rhythms were extended to bossa nova and swing.

The audience of black T-shirt-clad parents, denim-wearing rockers with sautéed hair and teenagers with permanent looks of awe seemed to know the set even before it was playedThe set was in two parts separated by an interval. The band were, in effect, their own support act. They played the classics, indulged some favourites of the band, introduced two new tracks and aired the whole of 1981’s Moving Pictures, like Queens of the Stone Age did with their debut album at the Roundhouse last week.

Guitarist Alex Lifeson looked like he was there to sell insurance but he still sounded like one of North America’s hottest gunslingers. Neil Peart, aka “The Professor”, powered from the back and, incredibly for a man of almost 60, displayed the stamina of a Kenyan long-distance runner. The night belonged, however, to Geddy Lee, who was looking more like a character from Lord of the Rings than usual. Despite barely talking to the audience, every inch of the vast O2 arena seemed filled with his presence. His bass lines burbled like a fusion of Jon Entwhistle from The Who and Stanley Clarke. And his helium voice, criticised over the years, seemed somehow thicker and warmer live.

2112Many of the audience of black T-shirt-clad parents, denim-wearing rockers with sautéed hair and teenagers with permanent looks of awe seemed to know the set even before it was played. Standing for most of the three hours they looked comfortable singing along, tapping feet and banging the odd head. But predictably it was the classics that really got the room shaking. “The Spirit of Radio”, “Freewill” and “Tom Sawyer” all brought a tingle to the spine. “Closer to the Heart”, with its beautiful new acoustic intro, brought a tear to the eye, and “2112” (pictured right), whosesolo was reproduced note for note, almost brought the house down.

On the more discerning Rush forums no doubt they will be discussing the unexpected success of “The Camera Eye”, the reggae reworking of “Working Man” and the unexpected heaviness of the new material – the wild, violent “BU2B”sounded like it could have been played by a bunch of 25-year-olds. Maybe they will also be grumbling about the acoustics – imperfect as arenas always are - or trading iPhone-recorded versions of the videos projected behind the band.

They won’t be complaining, however, that their heroes have lost any of their magic. Few musicians keep going like Rush. Maybe it’s because they are so mild-mannered. Or maybe it’s because of their somewhat mystical approach to music-making. When they played “Time Stands Still”, those old enough to have heard them in the Seventies and Eighties must have been thinking, boy does it ever. Rock fans have always insisted that their music is a way of life. Outsiders assume they’ll outgrow their industrial chords. But for Rush and their fans, the sentiment hasn’t wavered: they are, apparently, going to rock until they die.

Rush perform "Closer to the Heart" with the cast from Canadian comedy Trailer Park Boys


Lee, Lifeson and Peart stretched the sound of a rock trio further than any act currently active

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Comments

Just an amazing Show :)

Great review of a great concert!!!

Great review of another great Rush show. How only 3 guys manage to make that sound always amazes me. many highlights, but loved Working man encore- Alex and Geddy murdering their instruments.

Wow - great review - seen them in the Dublin O2 but you might as well have written it for that show. BTW which LOTR character? I'm guessing Gaffer Gamgee

An excellent review, you so obviously "get" Rush!

Nice review, the writer is obviously a fan.

Great review? Am I missing something? If you ignore the fact the reviewer is taking side swipes at the audience ('many of the audience of black T-shirt-clad parents, denim-wearing rockers with sautéed hair'), and pulling out the usual lazy comment about Geddy's appearance and voice, then yes, I guess it is a great review! As for the audience being middle-aged, I took my 10 year old son to the Manchester show and at the O2 last night I saw several under 12s, and so Rush is finding a new generation of fans along with the thousands who have been inspired by them over the years, including members of Muse and Queens of the Stone Age mentioned by the reviewer.

i was prompted toward this review by a Twitter tip off from the author; i wrote my own appraisal at my site with some photographs. i was surprised by the number of under-thirties in the audience, for what it's worth. the only disappointment was the acoustics. it was a euphoric performance, a wonderful pleasure to behold. i don't like this review because it seems to have been written with a negative preconception, as though the author was shocked that the band were so good and that the audience loved it so much.

Great review and concert. Yes the acoustics did n't quite match the performance to start with, but got better as it went on. Rush are somehow playing better than they have previously - how? The new tunes came over well too - looking forward to hearing the rest of Clockwork Angels if it ever gets completed! Yes, the demographic is mainly 35yr plus males (including me, not wearing black incidentally) but what else do you expect? There are more younger fans than on the S&A tour, so great to see more people getting hooked!

A positive review from a preconceived negativity? Maybe, but held against the god-awful review the guardian gave them it's positively glowing... Was at the Brimingham gig and that was all I hoped it would be. Last night raised the bar for this dyed-in-the-wool Rushhead. Considering their age, the length of the set, the length of the tour! they never fail to put on a show. True, the accoustics were not the best, but you play music in any arena you're going to struggle there, and maybe Ged should rethink having the bass come through the p.a? Neil dropped sticks and lost his way on a song. Alex got the arse when his foldback played up at the very end. Hey, they're human and any of us sitting (standing) awestruck as they massaged our musical souls with 'Camera eye' would give anything to be able to do what they do. Went with a pal who's a guitarist and he spent the night shaking his head in disbelief as Alex owned the stage with tight chops, bass pedalling and sublime solo work. This is the measure of the band... their fans understand music (unlike the majority of reviewers it seems) and know what they're witnessing. On the evidence of last night there might just be a chance of that tour in 2112......and by then they would indeed have assumed control

I am a huge RUSH fan, but came away last night absolutely gutted because the sound at the O2 was diabolical, or at least it was from where I was sitting (Block 420) - up in the Gods !!. Having seen Rush 5 times over 23 years, this was the worst sound by far, and Wembley Arena was never the that good - Geddy's bass/keyboards and Neil's drums were just a loud wooly mess that totally obscured everything else. I know for a band like Rush, getting the sound right in a huge arena is always an issue, but last night's sound was the pits !! Come on sound crew - you must be able to do better than this - I presume front of stage, the sound was much better ? I hate being so negative as I love this band and could see that they were putting on another great show - just a pity I couldn't hear it clearly. I know it is impractical these days, but I just long for the sound you used to get at Hammersmith Odeon. But hey, I will be there next time - I just hope I can get a better seat/place to stand.

I too was at the 02 on wednesday (block 404) to see Rush and can cofirm that Mark H is not exagerating - the PA was the worst I have heard since 1978 (Santana at Wembly Arena). The bass drum mics were overloading throughout the first half of the show - the bleed was so bad that not one note of Geddy's bass playing was audible in our section - nor for that matter was any other aspect of the kit (which was a great shame). I was moved to complain in the interval and found that the the complaint desk had received a huge number of similar comments about the sound. The second half was marginally better - but on at least four numbers the bleed from the bass drums returned swamping everything else. The problem seemed to stem from the failure to activate or utalise the central rose of speakers in the ceiling. The flying rigs at the 02 may work well for comedians and singers but they cant handle rock bands. I have been regularly going to concerts since 1976 and have to say that the PA sound on wednesday was so bad that it marred the whole event. I came away thinking that I hadnt seen Rush - simply experienced a sonic wall of bass drum feedback. I would observe that if you are ever tempted to see a rock show at this venue - forget it - unless you can get tickets in the stalls.

Hey Guys, i was fortunate enough to be in the 7th row, so did not really notice any sound problems, - hey my ears are still ringing! As to the demographics, i commented to my mate as to how may women there were there. Not being sexist, but i was pleasantly suprised as to the amount of females who get Rush, or who were there to humour their partners!

I was in the 4th row and the sound was excellent. I can imagine it was probably pretty poor way back though. I saw Roger Waters on the (well reported) night Dave Gilmour was there, and I was a few rows up the side opposite the mixing desk. The sound that night was incredible, but then they had rigged speakers around the whole stadium to surround the whole audience with sound, so it is possible! I love Rush though, and sitting 4 rows back Ged side was amazing. They haven't lost any of their energy whatsoever. Neil lost his way a bit at the beginning of Far Cry, and Alex ripped his in ear monitors out during Working Man at the end (not happy for some reason), but that's all part of Live entertainment!

I've got to agree with the comments made by the majority regarding sound issues. Like the comment posted by Mark Humphreys, I was in block 419, paid over £65 and got a wall of noise. Having been to plenty of gigs over the years, I understand that it can take 1 or 2 songs to get the sound balance right, but all I heard was Neil's bass drum, no separation of the double kicks and a muddy bass noise...having never seen rush live or attended a gig at the 02 before I was excited to attend the show. The sound did improve slightly as the night wore on and I still thought rush played well and overall was entertaining and would go and see them again, but not at the 02, one of the worst live gigs (sound wise) I have ever attended and yes, I have been to wembley on several occasions !!

I was in Blok B1 and I agree the bass and the base sound was very bad. Hope that Rotterdam tonight will give a much better sound.

Very good sound in block B3 - FANTASTIC show - could have been a little louder !!!! Well - I am a deaf drummer ! Can't wait to go again ! The reviewer was WRONG - lots of women and youngsters at the gig. My mate Jim said that Wembley (on the last tour) was better - only soundwise though. My mate Chris disagrees with Jim! 02 was the BEST.

Iwas in block 404 as said previously the sound absolutely sucked, hopefully the o2 can get this sorted they make enough money(£4.50a pint £65 a seat, £20 to park) at least Dick Turpin wore a mask. Next time in the aisles 4 me, hopefully they'll play the albert hall on the next tour

I was in block A1 row U and the sound was awful - really spoilt the concert for me. I paid £175 for my ticket and am a huge Rush fan. They played all the songs I was hoping to hear. But the mix and the equalisation was awful. But I've noticed its often awful at Rush concerts - if you look at YouTube videos of their live concerts from sound checks its all the same - too much reverb on everything - this muddies the vocals/drums too much...the balance is wrong and the speak placement is also an issue. It can be done properly - but the sound crew havent done the job well. Rob.

This should have been a great concert, wonderful setlist, highlights including two great tracks from Counterparts but was spoilt big time by the sound, which as others have described can best be described as 'muddy'. I saw them at Manchester (Geddy's side), Birmingham (Alex's side) and then Block 107 dead centre at the o2 to get the full effect of the lights and backscreen. I cannot believe that sitting in row S at the side at the NEC how much better the sound was than the o2. Rush are such great musicians, its that tight sound that is such a thrill, why oh why didn't someone sort it out! Still, mustn't grumble, the 3 hours just flew by and I did see them play 2 great shows in Manchester and Birmingham. Roll on 2014 and the R40 tour!

I'm not sure I agree with the comments regarding sound. I was in level 4, block 419 I think and I didn't think it was that bad. I actually thought it was worse at Wembley in 07 on the Snakes and Arrows tour. Maybe its my ears. I thought they played as well as ever but my overriding impression of the gig was of somewhat flat atmosphere and people leaving during the gig and before the encore! I call it sacrilege. Maybe the O2 is the problem?

Living in the U.S., I have had the opportunity to see Rush 29 times since the Power Windows Tour. I would say about half of the shows, beginning in the nineties, have had sound problems, usually pushing the sound system beyond its capabilities. The two shows I saw from the first leg of this tour sounded great, as did the three shows I saw on the Snakes Arrows Tour; all but one being outdoor venues. I'm really sorry to hear this show didn't live up to par. You've got to wonder about their sound engineer - how does his ears hold up show after show? It's a shame, because they don't get to your shores every tour.

The sound was so poor where I was (level 4 up in the gods) that I went and found someone who worked for the O2 and was directed to customer services. They were very helpful and moved me - still level 4 but near the back and face on to the stage. The sound was better but not brilliant. Too much low end bass. The sad thing was - customer services confessed that they had had many complaints - and had moved quite a lot of people. This is GCSE-level stuff folks - its not a new arena, this is not a new tour. Really fed up - I am a big fan of the band and it ruined it for me.

This was the 4th time I've seen Rush: 1981-ish: Wembley, up in the rafters - dodgy sound 1983-ish: Wembley, 4th row! Amazing sound. 2004: Wembley, way up high (right side) Great sound 2011- o2: way up high, (left side) Bloody awful sound. All the actual shows were fantastic - this last one was spoiled by the muddy, wall-of-bass acoustics of the o2, which I will not be going to again (unless someone pays for me to have front-row seats.) Based on the above, (and the comments of others) I can't put the blame on the band's engineers. The venue just sucks. It's as simple as that.

I was in Rotterdam last Friday. In the arena at approx. 20 meters from the stage, the sound was OK, but I read similar complaints about the sound quality in Rotteram at levels 1 & 2 that you guys in London were suffering from, so maybe it is time for a new sound engineer ? The performance and the show were OK .

Hey, anyone see the review of the gig in The Sun? gave it five stars, i dont know wether to laugh or cry! Rush getting a great review in the nations most read paper. Not very cool for one of the supposedly uncoolest bands!!

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