Rush -- live from Tampa
TAMPA -- It's 6:25 p.m. and Times pop music Sean Daly and I are here now in Tampa at the Ford Amphitheatre to cover tonight's Rush show.
We just got word that Rush will take the stage -- "promptly" -- at 7:30 and will have a 30-minute intermission between sets. That's a long night of prog-rock, fans.
Sean's trying to figure out what Rush album has the tune "Digital Man." We've settled on "Signals," that little gem of an album that followed Moving Pictures and Exit Stage Left. We're working under the impression that the set list tonight will be similar to that of the Atlanta show, and that scares the crap out of me, because I only recognize about eight songs on the list.
Sean's itchy to get outside for some reason, so we're heading to our seats. If all goes according to plan, we'll be back at intermission to let you know how it's going. By the way, the opening song -- it's supposed to be Limelight. Good choice, I think. Catch you soon, Rush fans.
The crowd is thick around the t-shirt stand, because -- let's be honest -- you can't go to a Rush show without buying a shirt. (It's written in very small type on the back of your ticket). Sean and I decide that buying our Asia shirts earlier this week has busted our budget, so we pass on it tonight.
About 15 minutes late, but 15 minutes before many fans were seated, a video montage hits the screen. Rush hits the stage minutes later with -- yes -- "Limelight." They'll play "Digital Man" second. (The photo at the top of the blog is from Times staff photographer Daniel Wallace.)
Geddy speaks! He thanks the audience for coming out again (Rush is a frequent visitor to Tampa Bay) and tells us it's only the third stop in the Snakes and Arrows tour.
A few minutes after sneaking back to the press center to blog, I hear "Free Will" coming from the stage. Oh man, I missed a song I knew!
I really don't want to listen to "Secret Touch" or "Circumstances" so I'm going to sit here a while long and upload more photos for you from Times photographer Daniel Wallace. Geddy looks like he's in great shape and having a fun time out there. Neil Peart, on the other hand, looks sorta like I will at 4:45 a.m. when my alarm goes off for work on Sunday.
Back at my seat in time to enjoy "Dreamline" with Sean, who is suddenly becoming a big Rush fan. He's rocking in his seat. He's getting ready to clap his hands. By god, he might actually stand up and cheer. And then ... intermission ... wait ... intermission? What rock bands beyond the point of bar bands have breaks between sets? Well, Rush does. And since they're probably going to play for 3-plus hours tonight, I guess I'd be a jerk to complain.
Back in the media center, sweating like Meatloaf. Trying to decipher my notes, written on the back of ticket stubs. Sean's trying to get a jump on his review for the paper tomorrow. First-half highlight that I missed: Bob and Doug McKenzie doing a video intro for "The Larger Bowl."
Does anyone know why Alex Lifeson is playing in front of an audience of Barbie dolls?
After about a half hour break, Rush hits the stage with "Far Cry" -- their first single from the new CD. Great song live. I'm sitting there, just drinking it in when suddenly some stage pyrotechnics nearly require Sean to call the doctor.
I'm falling asleep when suddenly I hear the magical beginning notes of "Subdivision." Hard to believe the last time I heard this song live, it hadn't even been released yet. The crowd leaps to their feet and grown men hug each other and slap high-fives. It's like being in the stands of a Buccaneers game -- only with the home team actually winning.
Taking a break to blog, I hear "Natural Science" playing from the stage. (Good timing on my part.) But the staff here in the media center says Neil's drum solo is coming up, so I'm heading back to my seat. Stay tuned.
Few things in life as beautiful as a Neil Peart drum solo. Kissing a supermodel. Diving the North Wall in Grand Cayman. Watching Sean Daly make a deadline.
Let me add one thing to that previous list: Seeing "Spirit of The Radio" performed live. As soon as Lifeson struck the first keys, the audience exploded. Easily one of rock music's most signature pieces. I stand up immediately and do my funky "I'm 39 and can't dance" jig. I'm not at all embarrassed. (But I'm glad no one here knows me just the same.) But I feel better when I see "South Park" introduce "Tom Sawyer". I embrace my dorkiness.
We hear the punching notes of "Passage to Bangkok" playing as an encore while Sean types away at his review for Sunday's paper.
We wrestle over the best song of the night: Sean says it's "Dreamline."... I'm leaning toward "Subdivisions." We don't debate the most sublime moment of the evening: Watching a forty-something hottie dance away to a drum solo. TO A DRUM SOLO!
Only at a Rush concert, my friends. Only at a Rush concert.