Live Review: Rush at Toyota Center, Houston TX – Dec. 2, 2012

On a cool Sunday Night, Rush are closing their North American tour and getting ready for their European tour starting off in the Summer of 2013. And what better way to end the U.S. tour then here in the city of Houston at Toyota Center. They’re on tour promoting their 20th album, Clockwork Angels, for a hypnotic and astonishing 3-hour performance. I’ve been a huge fan of Rush’s Music Since the late ‘90s in Middle School and the first time I saw them, was for the Snakes and Arrows tour in the Summer of 2007 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Since their formation in 1974, the Prog-Rock trio has been around from Day One.

From being an opening act, slammed by critics by considering them ‘Unhip’, to being adored by their fans, and into packed house arenas and stadiums, they are still the people’s band and there is no stop sign for them. The setting of the stage has a 19th century Steampunk atmosphere. From Geddy’s right side of the stage, has Gramophones with a horn, a bubbling Brain Specimen, and a Popcorn Machine while Alex’s left side has the same feel with Geddy’s, but it has a screen showing of what the future would look like in an alternate history format. And for Neil Peart, it still has the enormous drum set that spins around from the electronic kit to the real one.

They begin the first set with the ‘80s new wave rocker, Subdivisions from their 1983 album, Signals as Geddy plays the pumping chords on the synth to get the crowd riled up. The band go through their Keyboard-era with songs like; Force Ten, Territories, The Big Money, and Grand Designs, in which they still carry the inspiration from Ayn Rand’s views on: Objectivism, Corruption, Nationalism, and the views of Greed. They finished the first set off with the driven Jazz Rock sound of Where’s My Thing in where Rush come in full swing. Starting with Geddy’s funky bass solo while Alex’s lays some heavy guitar work and from the look on their faces, you can tell they are having a blast.

While Alex is firing away by going through different frets and making the guitar sounding like a roaring beast, Neil takes center stage on the drums. Peart himself goes through an electrifying yet rumbling drum solo as the audience watches with their jaws dropped and doing air drumming with their arms and cheering like crazy as they become hypnotized as the band finishes act one with the thunderous pyrotechnic explosion of Far Cry.

The band came back onstage after a 20-minute intermission for the second set and they brought along with them, The Clockwork Angels string ensemble. They began with a short film featuring actor Jay Barcuhel from Knocked Up as the Taxman and the trio as Gnomes with perfect comedic timing as they prevent him to meet the Watchmaker’s debt before they kicked it off into light speed with Caravan and the title track. It’s been a while since Rush had done a concept piece back in 1976, and while they performed eight tracks from the new album, song by song, it is a wonderful and magical adventure that is an embarking thrill ride.

My favorite moments from the second set of the show was the heavy rocking twist of Headlong Flight which is in the realms of their period from Caress of Steel in the style of Bastille Day before the lights dim down for Neil to go at it again for another drum solo along with an electronic tribute to the late Neil Armstrong on Dreamline as well to show, that he’s still the Professor and carries the voyages of the Drum kit. Meanwhile there was the doomy structures of Carnies that shows images of a dystopian Merry-Go-Round and the band go into a climatic showdown as the pyro come back as they match the rhythm of the music at the very end before exploding with a bang that audiences went nuts over as for the homage to the Homer’s Odyssey on The Wreckers and the symphonic touches with the strings on The Garden including the screen of the Garden House along with Flowers and Rainbows to give it a chance of rebirth.

The String ensemble performed two more pieces with Rush including Red Sector A, and the epic homage to King Crimson’s early days with the fan favorite, YYZ. As the crowd goes into a frenzy and head banged, they believed it was the end of the show after The Spirit of Radio. It wasn’t over just yet, they came back for an encore with Tom Sawyer, and finishing it off with an excerpt of the 20-minute prog-rock epic, 2112 performing The Overture, Temples of Syrinx, and the Grand Finale.

It was one spectacular night that showed Rush that they are the masters of the Permanent Waves and that the meek had finally inherited the Spirit of Texas to assume control loyalty to the fans and their music to show love and support.

(All photos by Jason Smith.)

SET LIST

Subdivisions
The Big Money
Force Ten
Grand Designs
Limelight
Territories
The Analog Kid
Bravado
Where’s My Thing?
Far Cry

SET TWO

Caravan
Clockwork Angels
The Anarchist
Carnies
The Wreckers
Headlong Flight
Halo Effect
Seven Cities of Gold
The Garden
Dreamline
Drum Solo
Red Sector A
YYZ
The Spirit of Radio

ENCORE

Tom Sawyer
2112 Part I: Overture
2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
2112 Part VII: Grand Finale

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