With the current emergence of reunion tours including The Police, Genesis and more recently Van Halen, it seems as though very few classic rock acts have been able to endure an entire career without disbanding at some point. RUSH, conversely, have not only weathered the storm of egos and attitudes, but have garnered an astounding library of accolades along the way.
Since the unveiling of their self-titled debut album in 1974, this legendary Canadian trio has been globally considered as one of the most diversely creative acts in rock. This attributed to Lee, Lifeson and Peart’s brilliant musicianship, epic song writing and vivid lyricism. Aside from an induction into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame and a Juno for Best Music DVD for “RUSH in Rio”, they have collected twenty-three consecutive gold and platinum records. This tying them with KISS for the third longest string behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones respectively.
Last June RUSH returned from their absence of five years since creating any original material. “Snakes and Arrows” is one of the first albums to be released in the new MVI (Music Video Interactive) format. For those who are interested in bonus features alongside their music, this DVD-based product includes the entire album in 96kHz/24 bit hi-resolution stereo audio with a 5.1 surround mix. Included is also a forty minute look at the creation of the album plus a variety of interactive features such as RUSH ring tones and wallpaper which may be accessed via computer.
Pertaining more to the music, “Snakes and Arrows” depicts once again the innovatively progressive, yet raw sound which included with the band’s exceptional body of work, have collectively attained world-wide sales surpassing 35 million units. Its first week sales propelled it to #3 on Billboards 200 both in Canada and the U.S. This marks the band’s eleventh top ten album in the U.S. and their highest chart debut since 1993.
On April 11 of this year RUSH began their extended “Snakes and Arrows World Tour” in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The second leg of this highly successful tour have the band hitting over 45 cities throughout the United States and Canada. Consequently, the double CD “Snakes and Arrows Live” was released in the same month.
Without a string of pop hits or dynamic stage acrobatics, RUSH’s cult-like following descended upon Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena on July 10th. Amidst their library of anthems securely anchored in progressive rock, the show was filled with memorable riffs and philosophical lyrics set to a backdrop of mesmerizing video montage. It was a night for the true musician. Odd meter changes, syncopated rhythms and calculated chordal arrangements adequately satisfied an audience consisting of more than its fair share of “air drummers”. All this incorporated alongside the odd fireworks, laser displays and impressive lighting rigs. What seemed to be a culmination of every ingredient present in a true arena concert, the show’s highlight still remained to be the colossal drum solo exhibited by the band’s lyricist and percussionist Neil Peart. On his revolving platform consisting of both an acoustic and electronic drum kit, Peart’s mastery was once again evident as applause burst out for this present-day legend. Its finale concluded with a classy drum display overtop a digital sampling of music from the Big-Band Era. This indicative of the band’s dry sense of humour which was also present in Lee’s substitution of bass cabinets for the large glass-fronted rotisserie ovens complete with rotating chickens which left fans guessing. Steadfast followers will recall last tour’s similar spoof with front-loading clothes dryers filled with actual rotating laundry, possibly soiled from the band members themselves.
With this second leg now well underway RUSH are expected to play some highly anticipated shows. Aside from their hometown of Toronto, the legendary trio will revisit Orlando, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Reno, Austin and Winnipeg after a decade-long absence.
So whether it’s a quote taken form a Shakespearian play or a line from one of their hits, for RUSH, all the world is indeed a stage and they are still the players.