The Paradiddler’s Wish List for Rush’s Next Tour

by Omar on April 4, 2010

in Event Review

Rush fans are a unique bunch.  There are so many idiosyncrasies attributed to them, too numerous to mention here (and beyond the scope of this article).  But what is within the scope of this article is that Rush fans seem to think they know what songs Rush should play on the next tour.

In different forums related to Rush, you’ll see fans put up entire set lists sometimes; others, just particular songs they’d like to see.  Some are songs we know Rush will never play live, but it’s always fun to dream.

Now before I continue, I have to make the obvious known that I too am a Rush fan.  Although, you wouldn’t know it by looking at me.  Even in my younger years, I never made obvious my taste for music, unless I was talking about it.  I never wore Rush t-shirts, I didn’t have a poster of Neil Peart on the wall, I didn’t brag about Neil Peart being the best drummer in the world (ok, maybe a little – but not that much!).  I pretty much kept to myself except with those I knew were also fans, or at least could carry on a decent conversation about music.  I made it a point early in life that these guys, just like any other human being, go to the bathroom, catch colds, get hungry, need sleep – all the things that make everyone the same.  I never worshipped them, but I did, and do, greatly admire their musical prowess, so the emphasis has always been on that.

I also realize that not everyone who visits TheParadiddler.com, or even some of those subscribed to the newsletter, is a Rush fan.  But I hope you’ll indulge me, just this once, as I deviate a little from the complete emphasis on the drums and more towards an ensemble, if you will.  That ‘ensemble’ being Rush, which of course who’s drummer is my favorite of all, Mr. Neil Peart.

So back to the lecture at hand.  Yes, even I, The Paradiddler, have a wish list for Rush’s next tour.  What Rush fan doesn’t?  But, instead of just listing them, I’m going to explain why they should play them.  It’s not a huge list either, just songs that I think would make the concert ‘complete’, at least for me.

I do admit that Rush has a knack for putting together an incredible set list for each tour.  If you watch the documentary “The Boys in Brazil”, which is the second DVD in the Rush in Rio 2-DVD set, Geddy explains the process of putting together a set list for the tour.  It’s a painstaking process!  They have so much material to cover, that in each tour some record (or records) get overlooked entirely, while others get a lot of attention.  A good example of this is their latest Snakes and Arrows tour.  While records such as Counterparts and Presto got no play at all, it almost seemed like a Permanent Waves II tour, because they played so much material from that record (even pulling out “Entre Nous”, which was never played live before!).  But as usual, the set list worked.  It was a great show, with a great song selection.

But what prompted me to do this listing?  After the Snakes and Arrows tour, I started thinking about what I would love to see Rush play in a subsequent tour.  Purely subjective, of course, but I know that if they played my requests, I know everybody would approve.  I decided that I’d hold off mentioning anything until I heard any news of Rush touring again.

Well, just recently Alex Lifeson told The Globe and Mail the following:

“We were off for a year and a half, and now it’s just pouring. Everything is totally crazy and there’s not a minute left in the day. We’ve got these half-dozen songs, and we’ll probably go in the studio and work on a couple of them and see how it goes, perhaps release something – and I say perhaps – and then we plan on being on the road in the middle of June. Ideally, we’d like to showcase a couple of these songs on the tour, come off tour in mid-October, go back in the studio and continue writing, then record through late this year and early next year, and then release the album in the spring of 2011 on a slightly more substantial tour. This [year’s] tour will probably be about 45 dates. Most likely summer, 2011, would be more like 70.”

This is exciting news indeed!  I would love to be totally surprised by a song (or songs!) I’ve never heard.  If that’s the case, and if Rush is going on tour soon, well, it’s time I reveal my wish list!

Before I go into my list, I’ll admit that I realize this could all just be an exercise in self indulgence, that of course I’d love Rush to play what I want, but like I said, it’s fun to dream!

My list is not long.  I’ll leave it up to Rush (like if I have a choice) to determine which new songs to play.  These are the ones they’re most passionate about, since they are the newest, so I won’t go there.  I got burned a couple of times trying to predict what song they’d play from their latest release.  For example, when I saw them on the Roll the Bones tour back in December of 1991, I for sure thought they’d play “Face Up”, because I thought it was a hip song, but they didn’t play it.  After reflecting on it, I think they made the right choice.  For the Counterparts tour (which I missed – grrr), I thought they would play “Cut to the Chase” for sure, but they didn’t play that one either.  I’m still wondering why they didn’t play that one, because it just rocks. Neil even sounds like John Bonham on that one, but anyway, a great song.  So the bottom line is I won’t even recommend what new songs to play (once a CD comes out, that is).

And of course, there are some songs that must be played on every tour.  “Tom Sawyer” is the prime example.  That song will forever be tied to Rush, so I don’t think they can avoid it.  It’s ok though, I never get tired of hearing it anyway!

So here goes:  What I’d like Rush to play on their next tour, in no particular order (unless otherwise stated).

The Camera Eye


This might be Rush’s most underrated song.  It is so epic, so grand in scope.  The theme of the song prances at a quickened pace; the lyrics play to the mood of the chords and vocals with uncanny precision.  It makes me want to go to New York and London!  Some of my favorite lines in all of Rock are in this song, sung so perfectly within the context of the mood of the song:

Pavements may teem
With intense energy,
But the city is calm
In this violent sea

Lyrically, it’s a masterpiece.  It stands the test of time.  And I think the music captures what the lyrics are portraying.  I just love it.

For those who’ve heard the song, the beginning begs for this song to be the opener of a Rush concert.  We got a snippet of it on the Exit… Stage Left DVD, where the beginning of “The Camera Eye” is used to intro the DVD (VHS at the time of release).  Geddy and Neil talk a little about entertaining and the ‘electricity’ of the live show.  The song starts off slowly, then builds up in intensity, more and more, and then just explodes into the scene with power. The whole crowd could be kept in the dark until the moment the band crashes into the song after the rising crescendo.  Lights blaring, the crowd roaring in approving applause – I could just see the whole thing.  Rush could use the song as a ‘warm-up’, per se, and play the whole ten minutes, which they could then go into their pleasantries, as they are apt to do.

So this song is my pick for the opening song.  Of course, anywhere in the set they play it would be fine by me!  Now tell me, is there another better song to start the show?

Different Strings


Let’s keep the ‘bring out a song never played live’ gig going!

I’m not sure this song was ever played live.  On the Snakes and Arrows tour (what I like to call the Permanent Waves II tour), they played “Entre Nous”, which was never played live.  That’s a song I never expected to see live, but it was beautifully performed.  It almost seemed like they played it like they’d never play it again.  For me, it had a sense of finality to it.

I actually think “Different Strings” is a better song.  It is ‘complicatedly simple’, or ‘simply complicated’ – take your pick.  I think it’s a wonderfully crafted song, and somewhat thought-provoking.  I think Dream Theater covered this song for a time.  I think the song would lend itself to be played live, be it how it was originally recorded, or as an acoustic break, a la “Resist”. In any case, lighters and cell phone lights would be on full display during this one!

Jacob’s Ladder


Ok, seriously, it is time.  This song must come back to the set list.  Ok, I’m not one to make demands, but I can already hear the ominous brooding of this song demanding to be played again.  I love playing this song on the drums (hm, I think I’ll cover it someday soon!).  It displays several moods:  foreboding, tension in the air, suspense, urgency, and a triumphant finale.  And strangely enough, I’ve never bothered to think about or inquire what this song is about!

In any case, my feeling is that it’s a favorite among Rush fans, and I’m not sure it has been played since the Permanent Waves tour.  Looks like this song is getting the “Between the Wheels” treatment:  played for one tour and then dropped.  But it was brought back after Rush realized how good a song it was.  I hope they do the same for “Jacob’s Ladder”.

Looks like the Permanent Waves spell will continue!  At least if I get my way.  🙂

Losing It


It can be said of many Rush songs that they are ahead of their time.  They could easily have appeared on a future album, or whose lyrics transcend time.  “Losing It” is one of those songs.

This is one of my all time favorite Rush songs.  Lyrically it speaks to many of us that may hit a wall in life, be it physically or mentally, and find it insurmountably difficult to overcome those walls.  Or, as extolled in the article “Cheering Them On”, many dream about what they’d like to be, but for whatever reasons never achieve it.

In addition to being a wondrous song lyrically, it is also thus musically.  The mood portrayed by the music complements the words perfectly, something resembling a wistful longing.  The violin exponentially adds to the ambiance of the song, giving it an almost orchestral presence.  Simply beautiful.

I think Rush opened ‘Pandora’s Box’, as it were, by bringing to a set list a song that was never played live (“Entre Nous” on the Snakes and Arrows tour).  Now they’re gonna have to do it again!  🙂  “Losing It” is a prime candidate.  The grandness of the song lends itself to a live setting.

As far as the violin goes, I think technology has come along enough for them to be able to trigger it when and where they need it.  They’ve been doing stuff like that forever, so it shouldn’t be a problem (sure, easy for a fan to say!).

Territories


In this fan’s eyes (and ears), the best song on Power Windows (1985 release) is “Territories”.  However, when said record came out, the songs I liked the most were “The Big Money”, “Manhattan Project”, and “Marathon”.

Unfortunately, I missed the subsequent tour (I was living in Phoenix, AZ at the time, but that’s a story for another day).  If I had gone, I would have known why I think “Territories” is such a great song.  It was meant to be played live.

I didn’t discover this until I saw my first Rush concert in December of 1988, during the Hold Your Fire tour, and later when I saw the A Show of Hands VHS.  The song exhibits various ambient changes, and the music fits so well with the theme of the song.  Some of Neil’s most creative drumming is in this song as well, especially during the chorus.  The song has a triumphant conclusion, an apt ending to the animated documentary.  Just a very well constructed song that I would personally love to see live.

Where’s My Thing?


Where’s my instrumental?  Many years had passed after “YYZ” until Rush recorded their next instrumental (ten years!), but “Where’s My Thing? (Part IV of the “Gangster of Boats” Trilogy)” delivered.

I love the jazzy riff it implies, with the power of a rock beat.  The many dynamics of the song make it incredibly interesting to listen to.  All three contribute technical virtuosity to what I think to this day is one of their best instrumentals.

But when I saw it live, it went to a whole other level.  If any Rush song was meant to be played live, it’s this one.  It has a grandness to it when played in a concert hall, the chords making powerful statements of sound, especially during it’s ‘chorus’ parts.  Not only that, but during the Roll the Bones tour they played an extended intro to the song, an ethereal suspense which ended with Alex’s piercing chords to mark the beginning of the actual song.  I was blown away.

So what happened?  They made another instrumental (“Leave That Thing Alone!”) on their next album, and yet another instrumental (“Limbo”) on the next album after that!  So “Where’s My Thing?” fell by the wayside, so to speak, even though I think it’s better than the subsequent two.

So it’s time to bring back this great instrumental.  The ‘thing’s’ right here, so leave it alone!

Everyday Glory


This one’s just a feel good song.  For some reason unbeknownst to me, it reminds me specifically of walking the streets of Montréal or Toronto.  In any case, it’s a lovely song, very fitting as the last song on Counterparts.

In fact, that’s why I think it should go somewhere in the encore.  It’s also somewhat of a triumphant sounding song, which makes it fitting at the end.  Again, yet another song not played live before, but like I said, Pandora’s Box has been opened!

Fear


When the ‘Fear’ trilogy concluded with “The Enemy Within” on Grace Under Pressure back in 1984, we thought that would be the end of it.  Rush went backwards, actually starting with part three (“Witch Hunt” from Moving Pictures), then part two (“The Weapon” from Signals), then ‘concluding’ with “The Enemy Within”, part one.  They play all three parts live on the Grace Under Pressure Tour DVD, and it’s fantastically done.  “The Weapon” especially showcases why Neil is one of the best drummers around (you’ll have to see it for yourself!).

After that tour, “Witch Hunt” was played most of the three, even as recently as the Snakes and Arrows tour.  But ‘fear’ doesn’t sleep...

On Vapor Trails, part four of ‘Fear’ appears:  “Freeze”.  This song may have gone under the radar as far as great Rush songs go, but it certainly belongs in that category.  It is a complex song, with several mood and dynamics changes.  I see it as an undiscovered gem.

When I saw that “Freeze” was part four of ‘Fear’, I thought ‘Fear’ was coming back for the Vapor Trails tour.  It would have been nice to see Neil tackle “The Weapon” again.  But to my surprise, they didn’t play it!

So here’s another chance.  Now that the ‘Fear’ anthology has come full circle (can’t call it a trilogy anymore), it’s time for Rush to conquer their ‘fear’!

Nocturne


When a new Rush CD comes out, I try to guess which songs will be selected for the tour.  There are always misses (see above).  Sometimes I’m left wondering why the song wasn’t selected, because I thought it was that good.  When Rush released Vapor Trails, I was sure that “Nocturne” would be selected.

This is a great song!  It’s kind of different from other Rush songs in a sense:  the trebly bass riff, the wailing background vocal - it’s like the band went off on a tangent on this one (a good tangent!).  Neil’s drumming sounds youthful as well.

I could see this song being played on rock stations because to me it sounds radio friendly.  Again, it surprised me that it was not selected for the tour, because it’s such a unique song, even by Rush standards.  I think it would sound fantastic live.

So where in the concert should “Nocturne” be played?  Easy:  as prelude to the ‘Fear’ anthology.  Perfect.

Hemispheres


Could it be time for Rush to consider playing another ‘side-long’ again?  I would guess that almost all Rush fans would love to see them play “Hemispheres” in its entirety.  Hemispheres is a favorite of many Rush fans, and this would surely please.  But I see a couple of difficulties with this choice (even though, again, I’d love to see it!).

One, Geddy’s voice is lower now than in yesteryear.  It is very rare that a singer who’s been around for decades that can still sing in the same register as when they were young.  Jon Anderson of Yes is a rare example of this, even though he may struggle a bit to still reach those higher notes.

This song would be one of the most, if not the most challenging of the older songs for Geddy to pull off live.  There are many notes sung in higher registers that, if Geddy were to sing them, he may need to sing alternate lower notes (like singing harmony).  Or, a la “2112” on the Test for Echo tour, the band could play the entire piece a key lower, allowing Geddy to reach those higher notes, which wouldn’t be so high at the lower key.  (They did this with “Circumstances”, which appears on the Hemispheres record, on the Snakes and Arrows tour).  But if they go that route, that presents another potentially big problem.

Alex’s opening chord played at the introduction of the “Hemispheres” suite is arguably his most famous chord.  It’s so unique, it’s practically patented by him (the suspended F-sharp chord).  As far as I know, it wasn’t used again (at least in a very recognizable kind of way) until the beginning of “Far Cry” on Snakes and Arrows, almost 30 years later!  If they play Hemispheres tuned down, that recognizable chord cannot be used.  Alex would have to come up with another chord that’s just as impactful.  Does that chord exist at a lower key?

These are the issues Rush would be faced with if they go with this piece.  If anyone can figure it out, it would be these guys.  I’m hoping!

And that, folks, is The Paradiddler’s wish list for Rush’s next tour.  I’m sure you have your favorites you’d like to see.  Please let everyone know here!  Or you can tell me how crazy I am, whatever.  In any case, let all know what you think!

By the way, I do have a couple of other items on my list that are so good (again, at least I think so!), that I won’t reveal them here.  I have special plans for those, and if they come to fruition, trust me, you’ll find out in due time.

In the meantime, have fun with my list, and yours!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Don Tomlinson June 7, 2010 at 10:16 am

Very interesting article and song choices for your “dream setlist” I am proud to be a part of a Rush Tribute Band from Pittsburgh, PA. I just posted a few songs from a show we did last week, and we played Moving Pictures in its entirety. There are some timing issues, but as any Rush fan can attest to, the music is extremely difficult to cover, but I feel we represent well. Enjoy our songs.

I also find Losing It to be one of those gems Rush should play. Probably 1 of my top 5 all-time favorite Rush songs.

Here is our website: http://www.myspace.com/distantsignalspgh

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Mike April 16, 2010 at 11:06 pm

It looks like you’ll get a little part of your wish, since Rush is apparently playing Moving Pictures in its entirety on the upcoming tour:

“Announced today, The Time Machine Tour is an evening with Rush, where they will perform their classics, give a taste of the future – and for the first time ever – feature the Moving Pictures album live in its entirety. ” http://www.rush.com/low/viewStory.php?id=334

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Stephen April 5, 2010 at 2:45 pm

My #1 pick for the next Rush tour is Kid Gloves and I think it should be at the very end of the concert. The very last song. I have thought about that for years and years and still waiting. In the past there weren’t any forums like this where the fans could make a “wish list” with a slight possibility that the band might actually see it. Now that we have these forums, hopefully the band will check this stuff out.

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