Your opinions of seeing Rush live in concert

If you’ve seen Rush in concert, I’d like your opinions of the show.

I don’t go to many rock concerts anymore. The acoustics of most arenas are horrible and it seems like few bands even make an effort to try to make themselves sound good. Obviously a band like Rush isn’t like a Britany Spears concert. You don’t go to watch someone lip synch and gawk over the dancing and costumes.

How does Rush actually sound in concert? Can you actually listen to Neil Peart’s drumming or does it all end up one big mess with loud echos all over the place? Does Liefeson’s guitar work come through clearly?

I’m watching the R30 concert on TV right now and the sound is pretty decent. Not sure how much was cleaned up and rerecorded in the studio, however.

I saw them a couple of years ago and thought they were excellent. I’m a casual Rush listener, not a hardcore fan, and I’m glad I went.

They go to a lot of effort to make their music sound good live. And they sure make a lot of noise for just three guys. I recommend seeing them if you have the chance.

+1 - I am not a huge fan, but have friends who are and I respect Rush’s musicianship. It comes through well during live performances.


I saw them at a pavillion and I thought the sound was great. What was especially great was that they had the show on a huge screen at the back of the stage, and there was a camera above Neil that the switched to at all the right times.

I don’t remember thinking anything about how the sound was bad, just “this rocks!”


They do a good, workmanlike job. Sound production for the venue I saw them in was better than most.

I saw them a couple of years ago in Phoenix, and a couple of years before that in Philadelphia. They totally rocked! It was a good time had by all.

FTR, I listened to them a lot in high school (94-98ish), but not really recently.

I’ve seen them something like 8 times (obviously I’m a pretty big fan). They really do sound fantastic live. Of the 8 shows I saw, only the one at the Pond in Anaheim was anything less than great - and that was definitely about the acoustics, not the band.

Yes, they put on an amazing show. Neil’s drumming is definitely distinct, no muddled sound at all. Get close to the stage if you can; it’s definitely worth it.

I saw them at the Hammersmith Odeon some 30 years ago. No problems with the performance or the sound IMO.

I haven’t seen Rush in concert in 20+ years. I Saw them twice in the Eighties, when they were at their peak.

My only warning is, even if they’re still in top musical form, and even if Geddy can hit all the high notes (I’ve heard that he can’t), they’re a pretty underwhelming live band. Neil Peart was a dynamite soloist, and did one of the few worthwhile drum solos I’ve ever seen at a concert… but other than that, they’re three very nice guys who don’t have a lot of charisma or stage presence. They pretty much just stood there and played their songs. No real showmanship, no theatricality, no memorable stage effects.

The songs were great, the sound was perfect, and the performances were technically perfect, but the entertainment value was not much greater than I’d have gotten if I’d just stayed home and played their albums.

NOBODY went home thinking, “Rush sucked.” But I suspect a lot went home thinking, “They were good, but… is that all there is?”

This is one of the reasons that I love Rush!

Best wishes,

<Sets down soda pop>

<Cracks knuckles>

<Commences typing>

I have seen Rush more than 50 times now dating back to 1982. I have seen them in places ranging from 8000 seats to 45000 seats. I generally think they put on a good, solid show each time. Clearly, there have been some nights where something was off but generally it works. They seem to respect their sound and work to make sure the music works in the venue.

During the 80s they avoided sheds (outdoor pavillions) with the reasoning that their gear was designed for indoor venues. Over the last several tours though sheds have been the venues of choice as they’ve changed what they’re aiming at.

As for them lacking charisma and such I think they’d acknowledge a certain amount of that. Geddy Lee once said that they went with the backscreen animation for so many of their songs because, with only three of them, they were so damn busy on stage that there was no time for any of the typical front-man ‘engage the audience’ sort of thing.

Remember, in the 1980s tours the technology wasn’t there. Peart would be behind two drum kits. Lee would have as many as eight keyboards to handle as well as foot triggers and bass pedals, his actual bass and have to sing. Even Alex, in those days, had two keyboards to handle as well as his guitar. He even built a special guitar stand so he could play the acoustic while doing all the other stuff. It was a busy time.

Still, if there’s any real criticism of Rush live during their earlier periods it was that they would be too concerned with performing songs exactly as they appeared on record. It was always a concern of theirs during the recording of songs that they knew they could reproduce them live. Even to the point where they committed ONE song per album as a ‘not to be played live’ song where they didn’t have to worry about such considerations.

Again, that’s not an issue now with the advances in technology, but you can see how they approached what they were doing with that.

Truly, a great band. They take pride in their work and commit to keeping the audience satisfied with their shows. They don’t want to be Van Halen and have David Lee Roth as a front man and they’ve never tried.

I haven’t seen them live in over 25 years, but I did see them on every tour from “A Farewell to Kings” to “Grace Under Pressure”. They never disappointed. If there were any issues with the acoustics it was due to the venue, not the band.

Been a Rush fan since 1980, but never got to see them live until the R30 tour in 2004 at the White River Amphitheater near Auburn, WA. Saw them again in 2008 at The Gorge Amphitheater in George, WA. (Amusingly, both shows were listed on their respective tour schedules as “Seattle”. Auburn is close to Seattle, but George is 150 miles from Seattle by the shortest route (I-90.))

Anyway, having missed them on the two previous tours — they performed at The Gorge on my birthday on the Test For Echo tour in 1996, then again on the Vapor Trails tour in 2002 — due to being unemployed both times, I was determined to see them on the R30 tour. As luck would have it I was unemployed yet again and I also didn’t have a car, so I sold one of my basses and bought a pair of tickets in the cheap seats, the second ticket for my friend with a car so he could drive (you know, “you fly, I’ll buy”).

The sound was great, the band was flawless, and what with it being my first Rush show after 24 years of fandom, I was just so happy to be there that I didn’t even care when those of us in the cheap seats (actually the lawn behind the covered seating) got rained on. The only bad part of the show came during Neil’s drum solo. While he soloed, a large, obnoxious, and extremely loud woman behind me bellowed at Neil (as if he could hear her from a hundred yards away while he was pounding his drums): “GOOOOOOOO NEEEEEIIIIL! WOOOOAAAAAH! NEEEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIL! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! YEEEEAAAAAAAH! NEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIL!” All the way through the effin’ drum solo. She was actually drowning him out.

When I saw them in '08 at The Gorge, I was employed and had a car, so I shelled out for a single ticket in the best seat still available when I bought it — Geddy’s side of the stage, still quite a few rows back, though. Nice warm day, May 31. Once again they put on an excellent show. The only downer was the wind, which was blowing hard enough to put the kibosh on the pyrotechnics. They even gave up on the smoke machine early on, because the smoke just blew straight past Alex and away. The wind also affected the sound, at least from where I was sitting. The one big speaker that was pointed almost directly at my seat was, unfortunately, suspended by cables. The wind kept it swaying back and forth throughout the show, subjecting those of us in that seating area to a sound that was basically “waaaaWAAAAAHwaaaaaWAAAAAwaaaaWAAAAA…” The only noticeable flaw in the performance came during the encore when they performed “A Passage to Bangkok”. On that song, the music all fades out after the first chorus, then Alex comes in by himself with the main guitar riff and Geddy comes in with the second verse half a beat later. But Alex came in with the riff 2 beats too early, making Geddy miss the first word of the second verse, but they recovered smoothly.

As far as showmanship … I think the band provides it in just the right amount for their music. Face it, their level of musicianship is a show in and of itself, and I think the serious fans (a large proportion of which are serious musicians themselves) want that. We’re not really interested in a bunch of jumping around and banter. Jumping around and banter means less time for the music, and we want to hear the music. Besides, these guys are all in their mid-50s now. Picture once again Mick Jagger strutting around in a belly shirt at the SuperBowl a few years ago :stuck_out_tongue:

I should also add that I was struck by the wide range of ages I saw in the audience at both shows. Old school fans in their 50s all the way down to small children, and teenagers who were clearly there because they were into Rush’s music, not just because “hey, it’s a rock concert”. Rush seems to have a very well-behaved, polite audience. At neither show did I see anybody who was obviously “under the influence” of strange substances, though there were a few who had possibly made too many trips to the beer garden. At the Auburn show I caught an occasional, brief whiff of marijuana smoke, but I didn’t smell any at The Gorge (though admittedly my seat was on the upwind side of the venue, so any smoke would have been quickly blown away from me). Leaving the venue at the end of the '08 show was a hoot - as everybody was funneled toward the exit, somebody started mooing like a cow. The mooing was taken up by those nearby, and it spread, and pretty soon a large part of the “herd” was mooing it’s way to the parking area :smiley:

They’re pretty upfront about such events. Peart, on the liner notes for ‘A Show of Hands’ refers to such as ‘those damned milliseconds’ or somesuch about moments gone wrong.

My favorite intro though I have on an Albequerque show from GUP. Geddy does his traditional ‘hellos’ after the second song and announces something like “Thanks for coming. You’ll heard some songs you know and, since our new album comes out next week, you’ll hear some things you won’t expect. Since this is our first week of touring we’re likely to hear some things WE don’t expect.”

I will echo whatRik and Johnathan have said. Rush changes with the times. Over the last ten years they have gotten better than the '90’s. They are more relaxed and involved with the crowd than ever. The focus is always on the music, they are the consummate professionals of the music business. But they also inject humor into the shows now, just look to the what is on stage in the R30 show. The Snakes and Arrows tour had videos starring the band to open each set and as outro entertainment, you haven’t lived until you have seen Geddy Lee in a kilt.

As far as sound, the venue is going to have a lot to do with it. Rush has one of the best crews in the business, but sometimes there is only so much you can do. I thought the Gund in Cleveland was bad for a Rush show, which though not still really bad. While Riverbend in Cincy always sounds good. As for the R30 show, the sound in that is ok. A lot of songs were cut out because of an audio glitch that overlaid a sample from Tom Sawyer all over the show.

The only other thing I would mention is that you get a lot of value for your ticket. The show is over three hours long, no opening band, only a 15-20 minute intermission. Three guys getting close to sixty years old and playing complex music for that long every night, it is always impressive as hell.

Then again I might be biased, I make a point to try and see them at least three times a tour and I have traveled across the continent to see a show.

ETA: A new tour, release of a documentary film, and possibly new music are expected to be annouced in the next week or so. See for information.

This thread makes me happy.
I still have not seen them live, and I really, really need to.
I will keep track!

Edit…I love this on that blog!

    • 1982 - Bob and Doug McKenzie’s ‘Great White North’ album is released*

I first really paid attention to Rush because of SCTV and the McKenzie brothers.
Also had a decades-long crush on Getty Lee because of it. :stuck_out_tongue:

Not much else to add–I’ve seen Rush in concert many times, and loved every one of them. They put on a good show. Sure, there isn’t a lot of jumping around and wild pyrotechnics, but they’re fantastic musicians and they genuinely seem to be having fun up there on stage. And Neil is amazing on the drums. :slight_smile:

You do realize that Rush’s primary appeal is their musicianship, right? That’s what the fans like about them and what they want. Rush fans don’t want to see dancing and “showmanship.” They want to hear three top grade musicians jamming their asses off.

I don’t have any recent experience with Rush, but I saw 'em twice during the late '70s (or was that the really early '80s? Memory is such a fragile thing…), and they kicked butt.