MUSIC REVIEW | Rush rocks hard at the Xcel Center

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It wouldn’t take a detective of Holmesian skill to immediately notice upon entrance to Xcel that Rush draws a die-hard crowd.

Even ignoring overhearing a gentleman letting a total stranger know that he has been to “every Rush show since I was 14, and I’m 52 now,” it was clear by the sheer amount of Rush merch that the majority of those in attendance were rocking that this was really not anyone’s first rodeo. These folks knew exactly what they were into.

Any by God, were they ready.

Aside from the upper level, who can be forgiven for not standing because that can be quite a vertigo-inducing situation, there was not a fan in attendance who wasn’t on their feet from the time that curtain rose to the time that show finished. These people were amped. These people were ready. These people were air-drumming and throwing up their fists and generally loving every single minute of being at that show.

And they weren’t wrong to do so.

Even after 40 years, a ridiculous amount of albums sold, and more than a few awards (though no Grammys, can you believe it?), Rush STILL rocks. Hard. And though their stage presence is lacking and the trio look a bit more like three gentlemen who are at work than a trio of folks who are loving what they’re doing, their sound is still incredible, and the stage show, chock full of fancy lighting and pyro (and a video package featuring Paul Rudd, Peter Dinklage, and The Trailer Park Boys?!) is fantastic.

If there was anything to complain about at this show, it would be that it seemed that the vocals were drowning in the sea of sound being produced on stage.While Geddy Lee’s signature sound could still be heard (and surprisingly sounds almost just as good live as in recording), his words were often lost in the mix. Which didn’t effect the die-hards one bit, as the entire crowd filled in the vocals practically the entire time.

Rush is such a weird cultural enigma. Their sound is just as much at home serving as the background music to a Dungeons and Dragons game as it is to playing in the garage while one works on their truck. It is, to draw a picture which may not please some folks, that weird middle ground between a father and the son he doesn’t understand at all. In essence, there is this weird universal appeal to the sound of Rush that can’t be identified, but can only be appreciated. And that sound translates wonderfully live. Even for the uninitiated, seeing Rush live is an absolute treat, for both the music, which is surprisingly good in person, and for the experience of being around those lifelong fans who absolutely love this group. There is an amazing depth of appreciation for Rush that really has to be seen to be believed, and, given that Rush probably doesn’t have many tours left in them, maybe should be seen sooner rather than later.

©2015 Caleb Baumgartner (text) and Emmerlee Sherman (photos)

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