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Concert Reviews:
Rush Rocks DTE With Flash, Humor

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2007

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Rush's intricate songs require some serious chops -- but not necessarily a serious demeanor.

The Canadian trio's concert Tuesday night (August 28th) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre was certainly a showcase for flashy musicianship, but the group members also drew plenty of grins over the course of the two-hour and 45-minute (plus intermission) show. Good-humored videos introduced both halves of the concert, while singer-bassist-keyboardist Geddy Lee performed in front of three rotisserie chicken ovens, which a "chef" from the road crew came out to check a couple of times during the evening. Guitarist Alex Lifeson's amp stack, meanwhile, was surrounded by toy dinosaurs.

Canadian comedians Bob and Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) introduced the new song "The Larger Bowl," while Rush showed a clip of the "South Park" kids trying to play the group's biggest hit, "Tom Sawyer," before launching into the song themselves. And the group's genial onstage demeanor furthered the point that for all their virtuosity, Lee, Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart also know how to have a good time.

But rest assured that they CAN play, and that dexterity combined with a body of intricately composed and arranged songs was what brought a near-capacity crowd out to DTE for Rush's first area stop in three years. And while that was for a 30th anniversary tour, Tuesday's show was "celebrating," in Lee's words, the group's new "Snakes and Arrows" album so was not surprisingly a different kind of affair.

Performing on a stage with plenty of moving parts, three video screens and carefully deployed lasers and pyrotechnics, Rush drew nine of the evening's 27 songs from "Snakes and Arrows" -- including a five-track blast that began the show's second half. All went down well, and politically-tinged videos accompanied performances of "The Larger Bowl," "Workin' Them Angels" and "The Way the Wind Blows." The sinuously grooving "Far Cry," the album's first single, also showed potential to become a new staple in Rush's canon.

The group didn't scrimp on its old favorites, however. Although Rush has a large enough catalog that it left out practically a show's worth of radio hits, it opened with "Limelight" and closed the main set with a triplet of "Distant Early Warning," "The Spirit of Radio" and "Tom Sawyer." In between the band offered lesser-known treats such as "Circumstances," "Entre Nous," "Dreamline," "Natural Science" and "A Passage to Bangkok," closing the show with its Grammy-nominated instrument "YYZ."

All of that combined for an exhaustive but invigorating night, one on which it proved possible to smile at the same time your draw is dropping in respectful awe of a rare display of exceptional musicality.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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