Rush closed out the 2nd leg of their R40 Live tour this past Monday with an epic performance at New York City's Madison Square Garden. The 2nd leg saw the band play a series of 11 shows around the Great Lakes and Northeast US, including back-to-back shows in Rush's hometown of Toronto, both of which were filmed for a future DVD release. At the band's 2nd show in Toronto, the Newark show, and at MSG in New York, fans were treated to an extra special treat when Rush played a classic song that they had never played live before, complete with an onstage guest musician. For more on that, check out the SPOILERS in the New York thread, and for complete tour coverage for each show, visit the tour page. The DVD filming was once again handled by Fadoo Productions, who are also putting together a feature-length documentary about the lives of Rush fans to accompany the DVD. They've been interviewing fans on the last several tour stops (you may have spotted a few guys with cameras talking to fans) and will continue to do so throughout the remainder of the tour. The documentary crew was also at the RushCon mini-con which took place during Rush's stint in Toronto a couple of weeks ago. The main RushCon convention will take place in Los Angeles to coincide with Rush's final R40 Live tour stop, and registration is still open. For all the details visit RushCon.org. The R40 Live tour's 3rd and final leg will kick off next Thursday, July 9th in Kansas City. From there the band will make their way west to Denver and Salt Lake City, up into western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, then back down through the American Southwest before finishing things up with a couple of shows in SoCal. The Hard Rock Cafe Denver will be hosting a Rush party on July 9th a couple of days prior to the band's July 11th Denver show. Kevin J. Anderson will be in attendance to talk about all of his Rush-related projects, and there will be plenty of Rush music and prize giveaways. There's still no word on whether the band will be extending the tour at some point, but the buzz in recent band interviews and within the Rush camp is promising; there's a lot of talk about how great the band feels and how much fun they are having. Keep your fingers crossed! Attendance and sales figures for a few of the R40 Live tour dates are slowly starting to trickle in. This past week Billboard Boxscore reported that the band's opening night show in Tulsa grossed $817,400 with attendance of 9,830 out of a possible 10,355 - close to a sell out but not quite. Figures for Rush's show at the Bell Centre in Montreal were also reported and that show was sold out with attendance of 13,024 and gross sales of $939,304. Ultimate Classic Rock has teamed up with Vivid Seats for a contest where they are sending one lucky winner and a guest to see Rush's July 25th show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, complete with airfare, a two-night stay at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, and a dinner voucher for one night. For all the details and to enter visit the Ultimate Classic Rock website here. Last Friday Rush in partnership with Qello Concerts launched a Qello Concerts Rush channel, which provides full-length Rush concerts and documentaries streamed on demand to any device. The channel also includes exclusive behind-the-scenes webisodes from the R40 Live tour, with a new webisode airing each week through the end of the tour. The first R40 Live backstage webisode was made available last Friday and can be seen online here.
Rush's discoverer and unofficial big sister Donna Halper attended the band's show in Boston a couple of weeks ago and took some time out to write about the experience on her blog in a post titled Just Another Mad, Mad Day on the Road: Some Thoughts About Seeing Rush in Concert. She reminisces about her longtime friendship with the band and what that relationship has meant to her over the years, including an emotional meeting with Alex Lifeson:
... I had a chance to spend some time with Alex before the show. He too has his own mixed emotions-- while his health is better now, and he is pleased with how well the guys are playing, he too misses his family, especially his grand-kids. I totally understand. The guys have been living the hectic life of rock musicians for more than forty years; it can be gratifying, but it can also wear a person down. And while I am rarely at a loss for words, this time, I admit I didn't know what to say to Alex-- for one thing, he had several friends waiting backstage and I didn't want to intrude, but for another, I don't know if this is the last time I'll see him in concert. We hugged a lot. Sometimes, words get in the way. ...
Earlier this month Rush finally made the cover of Rolling Stone magazine; the trio was featured in the July 2, 2015 issue which hit newsstands a couple of weeks ago. The cover story is titled From Rush with Love and Rolling Stone's Brian Hiatt gives a history of Rush interspersed with several interview snippets from all 3 members of the band that were conducted in the few weeks leading up to the R40 Live tour. Earlier this week Rolling Stone posted more from their interviews with the band to their website for a piece titled 22 Things You Learn Hanging Out With Rush. The article contains 22 bonus questions not included in the original Rolling Stone article, including this one about the possibility of a Clockwork Angels movie:
"To me, it would make an amazing movie and I thought it would happen organically - that by now somebody would've been at my door with a big bushel of dollars, let's make this happen. And it hasn't. But we've got the graphic novel done and we're building the world and the vision of it. It's astonishing to me, really, that somebody hasn't come to me wanting it. I thought what a great semi-retirement project for the three of us, 'cause Geddy loves cinema, Alex for the soundtrack and me for the story. But I was hoping that's a project that the three of us would undertake at some point."
Back in May Rush released a 272 page coffee table book titled Art of Rush, which celebrates the 40 year relationship of Rush and their longtime artist and illustrator Hugh Syme. Syme recently sat down with Billboard to talk about the book and his relationship with Rush. Here's what he had to say when asked about his favorite Rush art design:
... I tend to think more about technical prowess, so I'll probably err more towards the juggler for Hold Your Fire or inukshuk on Test For Echo. I quite like that cover, and it was fun to work on because I got to build that model and then photograph it and strip it into the scene. Power Windows is dear to me because I painted that in and around the death of my father, so it was cathartic for me. I like Counterparts for its glib simplicity. I think Signals was even more glib and ridiculous; it came after quite a few dead ends. At one point we entertained the idea of morse code and I was going to have the band each strapped into their own electroencephalograph equipment and have some technicians come in, and while they were recording and playing in the studio and snip a specific section of each of their heartbeats or brainwaves at a specific moment in the music. It was all getting too intelligent, so one day I said, "Let's just have a dog sniffing a fire hydrant." ...
He also echoes much of what he said in his recent Daily Tribune interview regarding the band's future, and the article contains the complete text of Neil Peart's foreword from the Art of Rush. Here's an excerpt:
...It is likely no coincidence that 2112 was the project that really came together for Hugh as well. The bold, luminous front cover with its striking colours punched the viewer with the same uncompromising energy that the music expressed, while on the inside cover (after years of pleading we finally got a proper gatefold cover!), the Starman would become an iconic symbol for four decades. Although Hugh and I always rejected the idea of "logos," and constantly changed typefaces and images from one project to the next, that one star, circle, and naked man -- the individual against oppression -- has endured and recurred. It's just undeniable. ...
The dates and location for this year's Rush EUCon were announced earlier this morning. Rush EUCon 2015 will take place at The Box, Pedley Street in Crewe, Cheshire on Friday, October 9th and Saturday October, 10th. Events will include Rush tribute band Counterparts, a guest speaker (TBA), Rush-themed games and prizes, a charity auction and more. For all the details and to purchase tickets visit Rush EUCon on Facebook and on Twitter.
Long & McQuade Musical Instruments, Gibson's Custom Shop and Rush are giving away one Limited Edition Gibson Alex Lifeson R40 Les Paul Axcess electric guitar valued at $7,999. Just stop into any Long & McQuade store, try out a Gibson Custom model and enter the draw to win this guitar. For all the details visit the website at this location (thanks Don C).
Smashing Pumpkins' founder and frontman Billy Corgan revealed in a Periscope video last week that his recent reunion with drummer Jimmy Chamberlin started at a Rush concert. The video was partially transcribed by Alternative Press and included in this article:
... "When I wrote Jimmy the message saying, 'Would you consider coming back and jumping on this tour? We're kind of in a pickle here, we need somebody, and it just feels right to ask you right now. It's not something I've been sitting around ruminating on.' ... "So when I wrote that message, I was on my way to see Rush, and when he responded, I'm sitting there watching Rush. To give you a little context, in one of the early Pumpkins rehearsals, maybe the second, third, or fourth rehearsal, I don't remember, but Jimmy played something, and I just thought he was like every other drummed I worked with, whatever. He played something, and I said, 'Are you a Rush fan?' He was like, 'Oh yeah.' Typical Jimmy, he goes (mimics Jimmy's drumming with his voice). He plays five Neil Peart parts in quick succession, perfectly. I was like, 'You can't play like that unless you're pretty good.' That was the first time where he and I were like, there's another thing happening here, inter-personally. ...
If you follow rushisaband on Facebook and/or Twitter, you've likely run across some of the amazing Rush-themed comic art from FANTOONS that I've shared over the last couple of years. FANTOONS is an on-going comic strip based on Rush and some other great bands that was created by David Calcano back in 2012. You can check out some samples of their work on Facebook and at fantoons.tv. They've released a couple of books already, but their next one is their most ambitious project to date. It's a 170-page Rush Toons book all about our favorite band Rush that was partially funded by a highly successful Kickstarter project that ended last month. You can pre-order your copy from Etsy at this location, and the book will start shipping in August. Fantoons will be at booth N-10 in the SMALL PRESS section at the San Diego Comic-Con next week. If you stop by and mention the code word LERXST you'll get a special gift.
David Fagin wrote a satirical piece for the Huffington Post's Comedy section this past week titled Supreme Court Votes to Legalize Rush Fans. The piece plays off the recent landmark Supreme Court decisions for both health care and gay marriage, with Rush fans being the butt of the joke.
Peter Janis of ProSoundWeb posted an article earlier this week on the difficulties in amplifying orchestral instruments at rock concerts and Rush FOH Engineer Brad Madix is quoted, talking about his experience miking the strings on the Clockwork Angels Tour:
... The production design for the Clockwork Angels 2013 tour called for setting up four violins and four cellos directly behind Neil Peart's drums. "We ruled out miking the strings pretty early on, having experimented a little with small mics in proximity of the drums and deciding we were going to get as much snare in the mic as violin," Madix notes. "All of the players were on IEMs, so even if we did mic the strings in order to provide a proper mix to the band (not to mention the audience), we would have to additionally use contact mics. A combination of mics and pickups might have worked, but in the end we decided to go strictly with pickups." ...
The article is fairly technical and goes on to explain how they dealt with the issue, including more quotes from Madix. You can read the entire article online here (thanks RushFanForever).
While on the subject of Rush stage shows, Stephen Sheffer of 93 XRT posted his list of 7 Of The Craziest Stage Visuals Used At Concerts earlier this week and Geddy Lee's stage appliances made the cut:
... Starting off our list is Geddy Lee, the bass player and lead singer of Rush. One thing you'll notice at a Rush show is the unusual equipment on Geddy's side of the stage. Ever since he decided he liked the sound quality better with the bass directly inputed to the venue's front-of-house console, he no longer needed those huge amplifiers behind him. So, he decided to use that empty space for unusual items and appliances. You might see a retro popcorn maker or a model of a brain in a jar. ...
CBC Music posted their list of the 100 best Canadian bands ever this past week in celebration of Canada Day and Rush came in at #3 behind The Band at #2 and Arcade Fire at the top. You can check out the entire top 20 online here. Also to celebrate Canada Day, The Guardian posted a list of songs from or about Canada as chosen by their readers. Topping the list was Take Off by Bob and Doug Mckenzie and featuring Geddy Lee, with YYZ coming in at #13.
Classic Rock ran a story earlier this week on Cleveland-based Rush fan and instrument maker Jody Michael, who claims his specially-designed guitars which his company Artisan Bass Works manufactures might help Alex Lifeson play through his arthritis pain. Lifeson has stated in several recent interviews that he has been suffering with arthritis for several years now.
KISS bassist Gene Simmons told a story about touring with Rush in the early '70s on his BBC Radio show this past week. The story in question was the lead in to him playing White Punks on Dope by The Tubes, and had to do with a show KISS played in San Francisco where both The Tubes and Rush opened. You can listen to Gene tell the story online at this location at about the 42-minute mark (thanks Will C).
Anthem/SRO's Pegi Cecconi was one of the panelists at a 1-day music seminar earlier this month at the Old Crow Bar & Bistro in Niagara Falls (thanks RushFanForever). The event was sponsored by MusicOntario and Planet3 Communications, in association with CIMA and the Ontario Media Development Association. Niagara this Week covered the event in this article (thanks RushFanForever):
... "You have to go about it one fan at a time," said Pegi Cecconi, vice-president of SRO/Anthem, the label that has brought the likes of Rush, Max Webster, Gowan and The Tea Party to the masses. "Next it's 20, then it's 50. They will do all of the sales and everything for you. They're you're promoters." ...
Michael C. Kerrigan wrote an opinion piece for the Daily Caller this past week titled Minecraft, Lonesome Dove And Rush - Thoughts On Being On The Wrong Side Of History where he talks about being a latecomer to the Rush bandwagon:
... I didn't see this one coming, but it turns out [Rush] are really good. This is hard to say because where Dungeons & Dragons was the movie, Rush was the soundtrack. Saul of Tarsus could scarcely have persecuted more Christians than I tormented Rush fan-boys. How? With underground newspaper reviews like this one, of concept album 2112: This record once and for all answers the question in what year will somebody finally score while listening to Rush? With time I've realized that once again, the joke is on me. There's a lyrical bent to their music that I totally missed, not in a sexually charged, Jim Morrison kind of way, but more in a was that an Ayn Rand reference, the Syosset teen asked himself kind of way. Who knew Canada was good for more than Neil Young, BlackBerry and sonar? While I confessed my Lonesome Dove sins almost instantly, it took a little longer with Rush. ...
VH1 posted their list of 10 Songs By Rock Stars About How Bad It Sucks to Be a Rock Star (thanks Mike M) earlier this week and Rush's Limelight made the cut at #2:
... Among the numerous brilliant nuances of drummer Neil Peart's lyric writing for Rush is how exactingly on-target he can get with his words. "Limelight" provides one of the most glorious examples as Peart doesn't so much as decry but simply reveal some of what frustrates him as being a sought-after rock star. ...
Brann Dailor and Bill Kelliher of prog-metal band Mastodon recently went record shopping at Amoeba Music in Hollywood as seen in this YouTube video. One of Bill Kelliher's selection was the vinyl reissue box set of Rush's debut album. You can hear Kelliher talk about the album at about the 2:40 mark of the video.
This past weekend we learned the very sad news that legendary bass player and Yes founding member Chris Squire had passed away at the age of 67. Geddy Lee consistently counted Squire among his biggest influences and had the following to say about his passing via Rush.com:
"Although we never met, I'm so sorry to hear about Chris Squire from Yes passing. As a bass player and innovator on the instrument he was a huge inspiration to me. Simply put, he was one of the greatest rock bassists of all time. My most sincere condolences to his family and friends." - Geddy Lee
Geddy Lee recently sat down with Fender.com for a three-minute interview where he explains the origins behind his right-hand picking technique which Geddy developed after touring with Primus back in the early '90s (Geddy misremembers the timing as the early 2000s). The interview was posted back on June 13th and you can check it out below or on YouTube at this location.
That's all for this week. Happy belated Canada Day to all my Canadian readers, and a happy 4th of July to all my fellow US Rush fans. The Rush tour continues next week!