Yesterday I flew into Albuquerque to see the opening night of the RUSH Time Machine Tour.
I make it a point to see RUSH a couple times on each tour. I love going to RedRocks because it's such an awesome venue, but frankly the sound usually isn't the best.
During the first leg of the Snakes & Arrows tour, in 2007, I went up to Chicago and checked out the show at the Tweeter Center south of Chicago and the sound was great. A month earlier I had seen the show at RedRocks and it seemed like the low end was missing. The problem with RedRocks is there isn't a good place for the low frequency PA cabinets and the venue slopes up at a pretty extreme angle. Add a little wind and you seem to be without low end and high end comes and goes.
Last night I was in the 7th row at Journal Pavilion, now The Hard Rock Presents - The Pavilion (whatever that means). The sound there was worth the trip - totally amazing. The venue is close to the airport literally sitting in a bowl of dirt. But, then again so is Albuquerque.
I really enjoyed the set list this time around. More so than the last tour. I was probably like 17 or so when I saw the Moving Pictures tour and have only heard some of those songs once or twice in concert and some never. It's easy to forget how amazingly strong that album was (ironically I didn't like it at the time it was released). Not liking new RUSH albums has been a historical constant for me, but I find after a few listens each becomes my new favorite. I think the first tour I saw was Permanent Waves and at the time Moving Pictures seemed too popish. I don't hear any of that now.
I really liked the mix last night and I thought the grit that Alex's guitar had on the Moving Pictures songs really brought them to life. This tour has some of the best bass riffs you will ever hear, so I hope RedRocks finds the way to bring them to us in August.
The second set is where everything really takes off. When I heard that Moving Pictures was the big draw, I thought "cool, good stuff there". But watching the entire thing played live back to back you really walk away saying, "I got to throw that thing back in my car"!
Moving Pictures is the highlight of the show.
Every tour has a new set of bumper videos that open the show, open the second half and close the show. The last video is a "get away" video that keeps everyone in their seats until the band gets away. All the videos are funny so it works well and no one leaves.
Last night I got lucky and my iPhone was able to connect to RUSH's backstage WiFi hotspot
This allowed me pretty good connectivity so I was able to upload the opening video segment right after I shot it in HD on the iPhone. These are always interesting and really funny so I had the honor of being the first upload on YouTube.
The video got picked up by RushIsABand a well known RUSH blog and started getting hits right away. They also highlighted my flickr stream so for a while there I was one of the only games in town. Pretty cool and have to say except for a few gripes the iPhone 4 did a pretty good job with the video. It needs away to adjust the aperture to keep the people in the spot light from being overexposed but the sound is really pretty good. I was right in front, right in front, of the stage right PA stack and thought for sure the sound would be totally garbled. My ears, however are still pretty garbled.
When I woke up this morning, that first upload had thousands of views and climbing. RUSH fans are pretty fanatical. I asked the people around me where they lived and no one was from New Mexico. A lot were from Texas, one couple from Toronto, others from Seattle, me from Denver. My hotel is full of RUSH tee shirts this morning. The airplane both ways had several fans making the trip.
Every tour the stage setup and props get a little more elaborate. This tour is no exception. The time machine concept is fully embraced with a whole Jules Vern vibe with custom amp cabinets that look like huge old radios and pipes and valves that blow off steam, revolve, go up and down... It's totally cool and an entire stage show. lots of cool physical props that are rare with rock shows. My favorite is the portal on the drum riser that opens and an eyeball looks around, funny.
A really cool part of the stage show is a massive full color HD screen that is the entire back stage. During the show there are live edits into the screen and combined with the aforementioned time machine looking graphics. It's by far the coolest video integrated into a live show I have ever seen and the quality of the screen is not like anything you have ever seen. This isn't some jinky jumbotron thing it's major-league. Lots of historic clips are mixed in and the screen returns to the "year" display between songs to reorient you. I really applaud whoever thought if the concept and tied it all together. It was very tight specially for show number 1 of the tour. There were small mistakes here and there but this audience could care less.
I'm excited to see the tour again in august at RedRocks. I'm just trying to decide if only one more time will be enough.