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Snakes and Arrows Los Angeles Show May 8, 2008

 
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Oswald2112



Joined: 07 May 2008
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 12:01 pm    Post subject: Snakes and Arrows Los Angeles Show May 8, 2008 Reply with quote

Hi all.... hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was euphoric as I'm still coming down from the experience of my first Rush concert.

The show was on Thursday and I took Friday off. I knew I wouldn't want to get up for work on Friday after getting to bed at 3 AM. So here's a brief description of the show and my impressions. Keep in mind that I've been a big fan since 1977, so I basically have 31 years of enthusiasm built up. I've wanetd to see them in the past but the Fates have always seemed to comsipire against me. Until now......

SPOLIERS
The following contains some spoilers. I've kept some descriptions vague so as not to completely ruin the experience for those of you who will see the show, but in providing some descriptions, I'm bound to give some stuff away. Sorry for that. My hope is to give enough information to let you know how the show went without ruining it for those who havent' yet seen the show.


Background
The show was the new Nokia Theatre, owned by AEG in downtown Los Angeles, just a few yards from the Staples Center, where the Lakers and the Kings play. AEG is rebuilding the whole area. The theater was built last October and it's a beautiful venu. My friend, Charles Dickens (yep... that's his real name) is dating a woman who works for AEG and they called me last week to let me know that he had FREE TICKETS. I've turned down Lakers and Kings tickets in the past, but you can imagine how excited I was when he told me he had these Rush tickets.

We had pretty good seats. We were about 20 rows back and were positioned center-right. There was no opening act. I also saw the Moody Blues at the Nokia a couple of months ago and there was also no opening act when they played. I'm thinking it's beacause the theater is relatively small and tickets don't bring in the kind of money you'd have at a stadium seating 80,000 people.

The Show
The band was scheduled to start at 8 PM and the show started at 8 o'clock on the dot. The stage was dark and there was a short film with Geddy and Neil. For those of you who saw the band's first leg of the Snakes and Arrows tour, it's the same film. The stage remained dark throughout the film and the audience's attention was on the giant screen watching the film. When the film ended, Alex casually strolled onto the stage playing the intro to Limelight on a beautiful Gibson Les Paul.

The crowd went crazy at this point. I had purposely not gone onto the internet to see the song list so I would be surprized. All of the people sitting around me had been guessing at what the opening song would be. Some thought it might be Tom Sawyer and my friend Chuck (Charles Dickens) thought it might be Working Man. No one guessed Limelight and fortunately no one around us had researched it so we were all pleasantly surprized.

The second song was Digital Man, which I've always loved. I enjoyed Geddy's banter with the audience as he seemed to genuinely have a desire to give us a great show. This is in contrast to other legendary bands I've seen who seem to have lost the desire to make the audience a part of the show.

The band
What can I say that you don't already know? The boys have held up well over the years. Apparently they haven't destroyed themselves the way Mick and Keith have and fortunately it's all the original guys, none of them are dead, like George and John. I believe Geddy and Alex are both 54 and Neil is 55 years old. Granted, the Moodys and the Stones are a bit older than Rush, but Geddy, Neil and Alex appear to be very healthy.... hopefully they'll be fit to tour for the next 20 years or so. Or a hundred.

My formative Rush experiences were via 2112, A Farewell to Kings, and All the Word's a Stage. Having missed Caress of Steel, my first exposure to Bastille Day, for instance, was when I heard it on All the World's a Stage. Later, in 1978, some of my friends in high school started a garage band and they somehow convinced the school administration to let them play a song in the school auditorium. They played Bastille Day and we went wild. I'm still friends with those guys, so the impressions from early Rush are indelibly imprinted on my rock psyche. I think once you have these formative impressions of the band, sometimes, especially when you see the band perform years later, there's an inevitable let down. The band members age and what's worse, they mellow and "phone it in", playing the same songs they've played over the last 40 years, just going through the motions. I've seen The Moody Blues and Jethro Tull live fairly recently and they don't seem to care about the music anymore. I guess that happens with any occupation. I sat next to a fairly well known musician on a plane last month and I mentioned this to him and he responded, "It's true... I don't care anymore either. It's just a job now."

Having said all that stuff above about how these aging rockers have lost their edge, I'm happy to report that the energy at the Rush concert was off the charts. I didn't see these guys live 30 years ago but I can't imagine that they could have had more energy back then. They played for three hours and over the course of the show they amped up. Rather than winding down, they got louder and faster.

Geddy spent a lot of time in the air and was all over the stage. He played bass and keyboards simultaneously and joked with the audience. Totally in his element and from a distance, if you couldn't see the lines on his face you would have thought he was 20 years old. He's still very lean and once again sports his 1970s long haired rock star look (having thankfully put aside his 1980s mullet).

Alex appears to love playing his guitar as much as when he was a teenager, and the man is a wizard. His fingers were a blur as he moved over the fretboard, hitting notes so fast I just stood there with my jaw dropped. Amazed. Alex used Les Pauls throughout most of the show, switching to a delicious cream-colored ES 335 for A passage to Bankok.


Neil was in a different zone altogether. He seemed unaware of the crowd or even the other band members. I think being the World's Greatest Drummer requires an incredible degree of concentration and it showed on his face. His 9 or ten minute drum solo was, for me and the people I went with, the highlight of the show. There was an overhead camera that showed his playing from a bird's eye perspective, which was awesome. Listening to Neil, I've always marvelled at his playing. But what I didn't realize until I saw him live was how physical he is. He drums with the power of John Bonham and the technical proficiency of a jazz drummer. I also noticed that he played both match and traditional grip throughout the show.

Geddy's Special Equipment
As in past tours, Geddy has dispensed with amplifiers. Running his base through the theater's PA system, he filled the space that would normally be reserved for amplifiers with three Henhouse chicken racks. Every hour or so a hot chick dressed in tight clothes and a chef's hat would come and pretend to baste the chickens. I was hoping Geddy would throw the chickens into the audience, and I'm sure Ozzy would have done so, but alas, the poultry remained in the racks.

Short Films
There were several short films. I don't want to describe them in case someone attends the show. They're really good and I don't want to spoil it for anyone. The other stuff, the song list, etc are all on the internet and I suppose the short films may be on youtube, but they're very clever and you'll enjoy them more if you're seeing them without the benefit of a description beforehand.

New Material
I won't say much here because I'm sure you all have the Snakes and Arrows CD. But you'll probably agree that it's some of the best work they've done. It's intricate, so people who are fans of progressive rock will be pleased, but it's so hard that Metal fans would also enjoy it. They included a couple of the instrumental songs from Arrows in the show and it was incredible. I'm not usually a fan of instrumental songs, but I'm glad they played them live. I love it so much I went out Saturday and bought the live cd for the tour.

So there you have it. I've written a lot of words to basically say that the band still rocks after 30+ years and that these guys deliver a hell of a lot of music for the money. No phoning it in for them... they have the enthusiasm of a band performing to promote their debut album.
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awip2062



Joined: 13 Nov 2003
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh nice review! Now I am even more amp'd for the gig at the end of the month!

Thanks for letting us "see" the show through your eyes, Bill!
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ElfDude



Joined: 31 Dec 2003
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lee Oswald, eh?
I don't suppose....

Anyway, Bill, I absolutely loved reading this review and talking to you last Friday on the phone about this experience. It's cool to know that seeing Rush for the first time is still every bit as exciting as it was for me back when I was 15 or 16 on the Hemispheres tour.

I wish you and I could go join the Hairballs and the others up at The Gorge in Washington at the end of the month. WE'd have a blast.

Thank you so much for the review!
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Walkinghairball



Joined: 21 Apr 2004
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Location: In a rock an roll venue near you....as long as you are in the Pacific Northwest.

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

VERY COOL!!!


And yes we would have much fun. 19 more days for us then...............vacation in another month.
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Oswald2112



Joined: 07 May 2008
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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the kind words. The people I went with (to the Rush show) are still talking about it. Like Matt said, the first show is pretty powerful. The only bad thing about the show is that it leaves you anxiously waiting for the next tour! Then I start wondering, will the next tour be as good?

I'll probably get shot for saying this in here, but with a few exceptions, I was not as big a fan in the 80s as I was in the 70s. They seemed to incorporate a little too much of the 1980s vibe into their music for my tastes. Fortunately they came back around as the 80s winded down and have moved back in the "correct" direction on the electric drum/synthesizer (on one end) to Guitar/Working Man continuum. Not sure if that makes sense to anyone but me. Maybe it's the organic - electronic spectrum. Snakes and Arrows is a perfect balance. Having seen the band move through various phases, they seem to have become masters of each phase (as we would only expect) and have integrated the various aspects very nicely with their most recent work.

I can only imagine what will be next!
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ElfDude



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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Made sense to me. I remember being excited by the use of the keyboards at the time, but missed the... yeah, organic is a good word, aspects of the 70's.

Who all went with you besides your date?
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Oswald2112



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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ElfDude wrote:
Made sense to me. I remember being excited by the use of the keyboards at the time, but missed the... yeah, organic is a good word, aspects of the 70's.

Who all went with you besides your date?


My friend Chuck and his girlfriend went with us. Everyone shared the same opinion: Unbelievable show.

My date made the comment that the music lacked the structure she's used to and although she was amazed at the musical ability of the band, in her words it wasn't her "cup of tea". She's used to the standard "AABA" chorus and verse/bridge structure. She likes Elvis and Ricky Nelson, for example and has a hard time with more abstract musical exploration. (I should turn her on to John Cage!) She did say they (Rush) were the most accomplished musicians she's ever seen, hands down. She didn't understand how Geddy could play bass, keyboards and operate the foot pedals at the same time. "Is he really doing that??" and she was awestruck, as was the rest of the audience, at Neil's performance. It was her favorite part of the show. It was probably mine as well. That and the chickens.
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Walkinghairball



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Location: In a rock an roll venue near you....as long as you are in the Pacific Northwest.

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, they juggle a lot of stuff every night huh????

The AABA form is tough for some to "Break out of".
Give her time.
Introduce her to others like Yes, Jethro, Coheed and Cambria, Porcupine Tree, Marillion, Saga, man the list goes on and on.


Just none of the Duran Duran drummer stuff...................M'K bill?!?!?! Razz Razz Very Happy
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awip2062



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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for whether the next tour will be as good....well, ask some of the people about here such as BBO. He's gone to tour after tour after tour and still wants to go to see another tour.
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