- November 23, MGM Grand
Rush finally has its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination, but the Canadian rockers aren’t campaigning to the casual on their current tour. If anything, Friday’s Vegas show felt more designed for longtime loyalists than any before, as the band built its first set around deep cuts, then reeled off nine straight songs from its brand new album to open the second.
The latter move felt especially ballsy, as singer/bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart delivered an uninterrupted hour from June release Clockwork Angels, backed by an eight-piece string section. The Grand Garden Arena crowd of about 8,000 responded respectfully—the new songs are solid, their accompanying visuals often dazzled and the sound was pristine, if somewhat demure. But energy waned as fans waited, some down in their seats, for old favorites, even as their three heroes tore through the fresh material with gusto, violin bows wiggling wildly behind them.
The rest of the concert drew mostly from Rush’s synthy mid-period, with 13 of the 16 non-Angels numbers coming from the years 1981-1991 and Lee spending lots of time at his keyboard. A memorable rendition of “Far Cry,” off 2007’s Snakes & Arrows, suggested the band should revisit its late-career more, and a predictably powerful chunk of 1976’s “2112,” which closed the show, cried out for more early-phase fare. But then, we’re talking about Rush, a band that’s always done things its way—critics, cool kids and Hall of Fame voters be damned.