Live Review: RUSH at VZW Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, Ga

PHOTOS BY MICHAEL BRADLEY

RUSH brought it’s 40th anniversary tour (R40) to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, Georgia on May 26, 2015 and took the stage shortly after 8:00 p.m.

The afternoon had been filled with thunderstorms and torrential downpours that left the lawn-seating area soaked and the parking lots covered with mud. Every major weather report was calling for serious thunderstorms and rain throughout the night, but just minutes before the lights went down at the venue the rain came to a complete stop. The capacity crowd of 12,000 RUSH fans must have all made a bargain with the heavens, because the rain never returned during the three hour concert, and the only thunder was from the audience as it regularly roared its approval of RUSH’s performance.

GALLERY #1 – RUSH AT VZW AMPHITHEATRE – 5/26/15 

The R40 concert began with an animated video that captured the history of the band’s career, hairstyles, wardrobes, major events, and sense of humor. At the end of the video, the animated versions of bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee, drummer Neil Peart, and guitarist Alex Lifeson walked past a road sign that read “Atlanta: Land of Fried Wonder.” Moments later, the real life versions of the band members appeared onstage and began the night off with “The Anarchist” and “Clockwork Angels” off of their 2012 album Clockwork Angels.

The three hour concert was broken up into three separate segments, almost every song followed by one from a previous album. It was as if the amphitheater was caught in a temporal vortex, slowly winding back the clock of RUSH’s history. To go along with the de-evolution of the musical library, the band’s crew came out onto the stage throughout the show dressed in red coveralls matching the ones on the cover of the 1981 album Moving Pictures. Each time the crew came out, they changed a piece of the set so that it too appeared to be traveling backwards in time. Slowly the steampunk/sci-fi themed set changed into a theme that matched the band’s 1990s stage dressing, complete with fake washing machines and a large stack of Marshall amplifiers.

GALLERY #2- RUSH AT VZW AMPHITHEATRE – 5/26/15 

By the end of the first set the band had played “Headlong Flight,” “Far Cry,” “The Main Monkey Business,” “One Little Victory,” “Animate,” “Roll The Bones,” Distant Early Warning,” and “Subdivisions.” Geddy announced a short break so they could catch their breath and disappeared from the stage for the intermission. During that time, the Moving Pictures crew changed the set again, replacing Neil Peart’s drum set with a black and red 2112 themed kit. Ten minutes later, a blooper reel began playing on the screens and RUSH took the stage for the second time.

The second set continued the pattern of de-evolving both the music and set pieces. The stacks of amplifiers on stage began getting smaller and smaller, until Alex and Geddy each had one amp propped up on a chair behind them. The songs during the second part of the night included “Tom Sawyer,” “Red Barchetta,” “The Spirit of Radio,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” “Cygnus X-1 Book Two: Hemispheres – Prelude,” “Cygnus X-1 Book One – The Voyage: Part 1,” Neil’s drum solo, “Cygnus X-1 Book One – The Voyage: Part 3,” “Closer To The Heart,” “Xanadu,” and “2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx/Presentation/Grand Finale.”

GALLERY #3- RUSH AT VZW AMPHITHEATRE – 5/26/15 

The encore of the show brought the last four songs of the evening, choice selections from the band’s first three albums, Caress of Steel, Fly by Night, and the band’s eponymous debut album. With a farewell and a closing video of the band returning backstage, the night came to a close on a high, if bittersweet note.

Before the tour began, Geddy Lee spoke of how R40 was quite likely the band’s final big tour. With Neil Peart wanting to spend more time with his family, and all of the members now in their 60s, the big tours simply are becoming more unrealistic for them to continue. That said, never say never. The R40 tour may not be a final farewell, but if it is, RUSH is going out in style and showing that they haven’t lost a step in the 40 years they’ve been playing together.

If you are a RUSH fan, then you must not miss this concert. The band is at the top of their game, playing some of their most popular songs as well as rotating in tracks that they have not played live in a very long time. If the May 26th show was any indicator for the rest of the tour, then the R40 tour will be the hottest ticket of the summer.

RUSH’s R40 tour continues this summer. Tickets and more tour dates can be found at the band’s official website.