Rush - SECC, Glasgow, Thu 30 May 2013
Canadian 'Holy Triumvirate' perform mind blowing three-hour live set
Rush are a mere 45 years into their career, but it’s pretty hard to tell. The Canadian prog-rock overlords’ live set is around three hours long, with no support act for padding. Their adventurous music, meanwhile, is at times as dexterous as an Olympic gymnast (in the hands that is, not so much the feet). Tonight it’s Glasgow’s turn to host the band affectionately referred to by fans as the Holy Triumvirate, and whilst the SECC’s big-and-empty-like-a-cowshed aura means some of Rush’s nuances are lost somewhere way up there beside the seagulls in the rafters, it’s still a wholly heartening and awe-filled evening.
It’s a bit of a slow start, however, with the trio opting to mine their cheese and synth-riddled 80s canon. ‘Subdivisions’ kicks it all off, but its weak backbone and pop veneer aren’t exactly the raucous opener most gigs cry out for; then again, Rush don’t really do things by numbers. The addition of the bouncing ‘Limelight’ – which was dropped for their previous four UK dates – livens the bums-on-seats crowd, with Alex Lifeson’s incisive yet understated guitar injecting the set with a shot of adrenaline straight to the vein.
There’s effectively three sets tonight, with the band taking a sizeable time-out after the first ten songs: ‘Due to the fact that we’re a million years old, we have to take a wee short break’, quips vocalist and bassist Geddy Lee, before returning for the next batch alongside a string section, giving extra depth to the sound. They perform a collection of tracks from their latest album Clockwork Angels, with the likes of ‘Caravan’ and ‘Headlong Flight’ proving to be superior cuts of metal-tinged prog rock. There are customary drum solo cameos, too, from Neil Peart, who cements his place as one of rock’s most proficient – and modest – sticksmen, whilst Lee manages to defy his 59 earth-years and with relative ease spurts out the window-smashingly high voice he is so famed for.
As if turning up a pot of boiling tatties to maximum bubbling heat, it’s the classics that spiral this crowd into bouts of delirium. Instrumental track ‘YYZ’ is as melodic as any current chart hit and ‘The Spirit of Radio’ is a happy-go-lucky number full of unabashed triumph, finishing up with a reggae-infused jam. Chuck in the soundtrack to every air drummer’s wet dream – ‘Tom Sawyer’ – and you’ve got one happy audience. And I’ve not even mentioned the amusing video backdrops, expansive stage set-up and the incandescent pyro. Three hours? Four next time, please.