By: William Clark
On an unusually cool night in Tampa, Florida, at the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheater, a crowd of screaming, diehard fans are raising hell as Rush is 15 minutes late to arrive on stage.
A band being 15 minutes late might mean nothing to you sitting at home reading this review, but when you’re at an arena with thousands of manic, pumped up Rush fans, it’s a completely different story.
After what seems to be an eternity, the theater lights finally begin to dim, and the crowd turns electric as soon as the first few synthesizer chords of “Subdivisions” powerfully echo in our ears.
The Clockwork Angels Tour has hit Tampa, and Rush were bound and determined to hit it hard.
Ever since I first put the needle on Rush’s iconic record, 2112, I was immediately sucked into the life of a diehard Rush fan.
So, getting to see them rock the house in person was unreal, let alone experiencing live how hard they actually rock on stage.
For the first set, this Canadian trio roared with powerful precision as they pummeled through some of the band’s greatest hits, such as “Force Ten”, “The Big Money”, and “Grand Designs”.
I tried to keep my focus riveted on the band, especially Rush’s amazing guitarist, Alex Lifeson, who nailed the challenging solos of “The Analog Kid”. But, the vibrant and colorful Pink Floyd-esque animations scattered across the huge LED screen hanging above the stage, steering my eyes upward.
If it wasn’t the massive screen that grabbed my attention, I’d be distracted by a set of powerful pyrotechnics that lit up the entire stage. And then there was the mad scientist who’d race across the stage and fiddle with the science-themed stage props.
But, without a doubt it was Rush that took control and all the other sideshows were secondary to the music.
Everyone was magnetized with Geddy Lee wreaking havoc on bass, while one of the best drummers in the world, Neal Peart, pounded more sense into Rush songs than humanely possible. And, of course, there were Alex’s guitar riffs soaring out over the crowd.
After flawlessly running through “Where’s My Thing?,” off their classic, Roll The Bones album, I was delighted to watch Rush capping off the first set with one of my many personal favorites, “Far Cry”, from the band’s 2007 album, Snakes and Arrows.
This more recent hit keeps all of the same dynamics as Rush’s earlier tunes, but with a heavier edge, so it held its ground with such classics as “Bravado” and “The Body Electric”.
For the second set, Rush brought out the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble to help them power through a setlist, which surprisingly included most of their new album, Clockwork Angels.
They pummeled their way through nine of the album’s new tracks, including “Caravan”, “The Wreckers”, “Seven Cities of Gold”, and “Headlong Flight”, which also featured a ferocious drum solo by percussion master, Neil Peart.
The string ensemble continued to jam along with Rush through such songs as “Red Sector A”, “Manhattan Project”, and the fan favorite instrumental, “YYZ”.
As the ensemble exited the stage, Rush decided to close off the show with the ferocious “Spirit Of The Radio”. When that mind warping guitar intro hit our ears, the entire place completely exploded!
And when the song hit the bridge, every member of the audience screamed along with the lyrics, “The words of the prophets were written on the studio wall: concert hall!”.
They could’ve ended the show then and there and I would have been more than happy, maybe even satiated.
But, Rush had a much bigger plan in mind, and they returned once more to rock through the power hit “Tom Sawyer”, right before leading the entire crowd into chanting along to the almighty “2112 Overture/Temples of Syrinx”.
Rush really brought the house down that night, and thanks to their masterful use of pyrotechnics and modern technology they rocked harder than ever did in their heyday.
When the Clockwork Angels Tour arrives near your town, go check out one of rock and roll’s finest live bands, the almighty Rush!