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Neil Peart Solo Number Six – A Show of Hands, 1988

by Omar on March 4, 2009

in Drummers, Editorials

source:  Presto tourbook

source: Presto tourbook

Enter the Big Band

Entering at number six in our countdown towards Neil Peart's best drum solo is the solo from the Hold Your Fire tour as featured on A Show of Hands (ASoH) as "The Rhythm Method".  This performance was recorded in April of 1988 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England.  And indeed, the big band makes a big entry here.

I, unfortunately, have not seen or heard every solo from every tour, so the only graduations we can go by (well, at least those who haven't been to the shows personally) are the published solos chronologically.  Fortunately, there're eight of them!  Why do I mention this aspect?  Because this solo is drastically different from the solo released prior:  "YYZ" on Exit Stage Left (ESL) (1981).  It wasn't until the Grace Under Pressure (GUP) (1984) tour that Neil started using the electronic kit in earnest.  We don't know, unless you were there, how different the solos were from the Signals tour (1982) to the GUP tour, but I assume they were significantly different due to the addition of the electronic drums.  So from GUP to the Power Windows (PW) (1985) tour, not too different; from PW to ASoH, not too different.  But from the published solos from ESL to ASoH - whoa!  Like night and day.

That's not to say that Neil didn't use any of the "pillar elements" he's famous for in this solo:  the snare-splash combo, cowbell melody, double-handed crossover pattern, etc.  But the arrangement was very different.  Instead of starting off with the single-stoke accented roll, it was instead in the second movement of the solo.  Pieces of Eight was introduced to the world, at least within a solo context, and it was very different from anything Neil had done before.  We actually got to see him playing the double-handed crossover pattern (jaw dropping).  We started seeing (and hearing!) his kit expand beyond the drums, with the addition of the xylophone (well, a midi controller actually), and, of course, the big band.

But before I get to that, I have to include what I believe is the best part of the solo.  It's just Neil attacking his whole kit, seemingly.  And it's flawless:

Rhythm Method ASoH Highlight

Pure, raw energy - classic Neil.  And of course, as mentioned before, here recorded for the first time we hear the big band triggered by Neil, which again was a huge departure from what he had done before.  In later years, the 'big band' sounded more natural, at least to me - initially the triggered sound was a little too, well, 'electronic,' probably because it was new.  But it sounded better over time, as we'll see later on in the countdown.  Here's a sample of the 'big band' then:

ASoH Big Band Debut

At this point there are a few versions of the ending of this solo.  On the ASoH video, it ends right after the big band trigger, and goes straight into "The Spirit of Radio."  On the CD version, after the big band trigger, Neil plays a little lead-up pattern on the floor toms which then gives way to the kit spinning so the electronic kit faces the crowd.  He then finishes off the solo there with some boomy drum sounds and more big band triggering (oh yeah, and the gong at the end!).

Now there was another ending as well.  You see, this solo, and this tour for that matter, holds a little place in my heart.  This was the first time a budding paradiddler went to see his favorite band, Rush.  It was on Wednesday, December 2nd, 1987, at the Centrum in Worcester, MA.  I do remember quite well that when the solo ended, Neil segued into the middle of "Red Lenses", where Rush then finished the song.  I was most impressed!

Why is this solo number six in the countdown?  Because as tight as Neil played on this solo, and as innovative as he was, the other solos left on this countdown either had even more outstanding innovations, or the more common 'pillar elements' of Neil's solos were expanded even further than what was displayed here.  However, at this point it gets more difficult to place these solos in their rank, because they're all so very good!

Stay tuned though!  We'll have it all sorted out.

Number 7 | Number 5

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Skip Daly June 19, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Nice series you’re written here.

It bears mention that this “A Show Of Hands” solo is an abbreviated/edited version of the full solo that was performed on that tour (with Neil himself determining the edits, during post-production work on the album).

Also, while I need to first put forth the disclaimer that I am NOT a “bootlegger” (I collect recordings for fun & personal enjoyment, and NEVER either buy or sell these things)…if you ever have interest in “filling in the blanks” and checking out Neil’s solos from “other tours” that were not officially documented, there ARE quite a lot of (soundboard) bootleg recordings out there, some of them of really good quality. Here are some good ones from the years/tours that you’re missing:

Cleveland, OH 8/26/74 (a radio broadcast only a month or so after Neil joined the band!)
Tuscon, AZ 11/20/78 (soundboard)
Detroit, MI 12/2/78 (soundboard)
Frankfurt, Germany 5/29/79 (soundboard)
St. Louis, MO 2/14/80 (radio broadcast)
Hartford, CT 5/8/90 (soundboard)
Mountain View, CA 6/27/90 (soundboard)
St. Louis, MO 11/7/91 (soundboard)
New York, NY 12/7/91 (soundboard)
Charlotte, NC 6/14/92 (soundboard)

All great shows, with high quality sound…


Troy March 4, 2009 at 5:02 pm


I am not a percussionist but have long admired the talents of a great drummer.

Good job on the site and thanks for the trip down memory lane with this Neil Peart article.

Houston, Texas, USA


Omar March 4, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Hi Troy.

Very glad you’re enjoying this series. I’m going down memory lane myself! Writing about all these solos is very inspiring and educational. It gets tougher to rate as we get to number one, but that’s the beauty of it!

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading! You’re free to tell everyone you know about this site. 🙂


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