Iconic Canadian power trio Rush brought its 40th anniversary celebration to the area on Saturday, playing to a full house at Jiffy Lube Live Amphitheater in Bristow, Va.
Fans arrived decked out in every variation of past Rush tour shirt imaginable, and while wearing a shirt from the band you’re seeing that night may be a “true breach of cool” in some circles, in this case it highlights the devotion of the band’s fans.
What’s the difference between a Rush fan and a terrorist? Sometimes, you can reason with a terrorist.
Rush rewarded fans for their devotion with a 27-song journey that included songs from 15 of the band’s 20 studio albums spanning a storied, 40-year career.
The show began with three songs – The Anarchist, Clockwork Angels and Headlong Flight from Rush’s most recent album, 2012’s Clockwork Angels, and culminated about three hours later – with What You’re Doing and Working Man from the band’s debut album in 1974.
“I like the way they went from present day to back in the day,” said Doug Bellin, a longtime Rush fan from Freeland, Md. “They tried to do the whole history of the band in one night.”
The setlist included several of Rush’s more popular songs like Subdivisions and The Spirit of Radio, as well as revisiting some rarities such as Lakeside Park and What You’re Doing.
Rush’s performance was seamless, which is exactly what you’d expect from a band that has been playing together since Richard Nixon was in the White House.
Perhaps their biggest hit, Tom Sawyer, was introduced with a clip featuring the boys of South Park lampooning them. The video leading into the encore featured Eugene Levy bragging that the band opened for KISS – twice!
The setlist’s move back in time was cleverly reflected in the stage’s pieces, as stage hands dressed in jumpers reminiscent of the album artwork from 1981’s Moving Pictures would swap out elements from previous tours while the band jammed around them.
What began as a collection of steampunk contraptions and elaborate suspended light rigs slowly got replaced by washing machines and Marshall stacks, finally ending with a backdrop of a high school gym dance, complete with disco ball.
When asked what the biggest surprise of the night was Mr. Bellin replied “I’d have to say Jacob’s Ladder was the biggest surprise,” Bellin said of the song off the Permanent Waves album. “I wasn’t expecting that – it’s a pretty obscure song off Permanent Waves.”
He wasn’t the only one a little caught off guard.
Jacob’s Ladder “is a song we haven’t played in quite some time,” Rush singer and bassist Geddy Lee said to the crowd. “In fact, I forgot we ever played it.”
Chris Swanson is a live music and sports fanatic and a long-time Maryland resident. He holds tightly to what some consider an unreasonable affection for the Baltimore Orioles and older music venues. Chris has a Communications Degree from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.