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CD Reviews:
Rush Rocks In Repeat Visit To Metro Area

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2008

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DETROIT -- Six days later, what could be more perfect than one of Canada's most storied rock bands playing in the home of the Stanley Cup champions.

"This is Hockeytown, right? Somebody told me that," Geddy Lee of Rush said to an exuberant crowd Tuesday night (June 10) at Joe Louis Arena near the start of the trio's second metro area show in 10 months -- and first in two decades in downtown Detroit.

For two hours and 45 minutes, however, it was decidedly Rushtown.

That Tuesday's 27-song set differed only slightly from the show the group played last August at the DTE Energy Music Theatre didn't really matter to the nearly 9,000 fans, the vast majority of whom stood from Alex Lifeson's opening guitar riffs on "Limelight" through the crashing end of the Grammy Award-winning instrumental "YYZ." There's good reason for that, too; Rush's brand of flashy instrumental chops, laid over intricate, multi-section opuses, never gets old, and has, in fact, only gotten better since the group returned, re-energized, from a five-year hiatus in 2002.

On Tuesday the trio was as exciting as ever as it powered through radio hits such as "Freewill," "Subdivisions" and "The Spirit of Radio," as well as fan-favorite "deep cuts" like "Digital Man," "Mission," "Between the Wheels," "Dreamline," "Natural Science" and "A Passage to Bangkok." It was visually arresting as well, thanks to three large video screens at the back of the stage, a moving light rig and carefully deployed lasers and pyrotechnics.

And there were moments of levity to balance the serious displays of musical skill. Some gleefully silly videos introduced each half of the show, while Canada's McKenzie Brothers, aka comedians Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, appeared on screen to introduce "The Larger Bowl." And "Tom Sawyer" was preceded by a clip from "South Park" in which the kids struggle to play the songs correctly. At one point Lee introduced "the newest member of Rush" -- a toy model of drummer Neal Peart, which spun on a rotating stool beside Lee's keyboards.

The four fresh numbers certainly made their mark in the show as well. "Ghost of a Chance" was the rarity, hailing form the 1991 "Roll the Bones" album, while "Red Barchetta," "The Trees" and the "2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx" were welcome returnees from the early stages of Rush's 34-year career.

As the group left the stage before Tuesday's encore, Lee saluted the Joe Louis crowd as "awesome" -- which it certainly was. But the same adjective could absolutely be applied to Rush, too.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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