Last Friday I attended Rush's concert at the wonderful Morumbi Stadium in São Paulo. I would venture to say that there's never been a better time to watch the band live - their repertoire has reached the right kind of balance between lenghty, progressive rock-oriented pieces and more direct and powerful hard rock tunes, and the guys are in their best shape ever - Alex plays with incredible speed, beauty, accuracy and sophistication, while Geddy Lee is displaying a degree of control over the bass that it's just mind-boggling. Neil Peart is a separate show on his own right - it seems that the harder and faster Rush gets, the more clear the sound he's able to elicit from his drum kit, playing with immense creativity and flare.
Time Machine's been clear a tour for hard core fans - the first part of the gig is all devoted to songs which they hadn't been playing live for a good deal of time already, including "Marathon", "Presto", "Stick It Out" and "Time Stand Still". They got off to an exciting start by playing "The Spirit Of The Radio", and then went on to performe some songs from Snakes & Arrows - "Malignant Narcisism", "Faithless" and "Working Them Angels" before playing one of the latest songs in the catalogue: BU2B. They wrapped up the first part with two absolute classics: "Subdivisions" and "Freewill".
It was by this time that something completely unpextected happened: there was an actual, real 15-minute intermission for the guys - and us! - to take some rest. They act in almost all the short movies on the big screen and a clock starts running until reaching 1980, at which point the band gets back on stage to play the whole "Moving Pictures" - not one or two songs of it, but the whole thing, from start to finish, in extactly the same order as the album's. Well, the two greatest surprises here are "Vital Signs", just amazingly played, and, of course, the epic 11 minutes or so tune "The Camera Eye". "Limelight" got the audience jumping, screaming and dancing, as well as "Tom Sawyer" and "Red Barchetta". YYZ is always a treat to listen to. One of the hottest moments of the second part of the gig to me, though, was a killing rendition of "Witch Hunt", whose lyrics alone turn a deceivingly simple song into a classic.
When they had just finished playing "Moving Pictures", I thought that was it - but no! The show goes on and then the most exciting part, as far as my taste is concerned, began - they started playing the heavier tunes, such as "Caravan", from the new single, and "Far Cry", from "Snakes And Arrows", as well as "Working Man", "La Villa Strangiato" and "Temple of Syrinx". The softest tune in the whole gig - "Closer To The Heart" - was played in the beginning of the third and last part of the concert.
I was truly amazed and left the stadium very moved and with a sense of awe - how come are these guys able to play so perfectly for almost three hours after 30 years of intense touring? Not to mention that both the two new songs and the tunes from "Snakes And Arrows" are on a part with some of the best material they have composed. The band is able to sound fresh, exciting, contemporary and venturesome after all these years on the road. For the dedication, shape and skill alone, the show is worth any rock fan's attention.
Some very good footage of the guys playing "Marathon" after quite a long time (the sound is very impressive given the distance and the guy's equipment) - check out Geddy's bass solo at 2:58 !!!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xb2eDV97WZg&feature=related
And here, Witch Hunt (a guy asks for Fly By Night!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQJwa-b6BWU