New World Man – Rush

Occasionally a song hits you right in the solar plexus.  You know the feeling, right?  It can be an affirmation, or an encouragement or just a matter of self identification.  Kind of a “hey, that’s me!” moment.  Well I had one of the those on the way home today with a Rush song.  A Rush song, you say?  How could that be?

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know.

New World Man starts out with this line, “He’s a rebel and a runner“.  That certainly pricked my ears!

Followed by “He’s a signal turning green, He’s a restless young romantic, Wants to run the big machine”

So, kind of wow – if you know what I mean.  Rather than give a line by line analysis of the song, because we all know how tedious that can be, I thought I’d just bold the lyrics that speak to me today.

“He’s got a problem with his poisons
But you know he’ll find a cure
He’s cleaning up his systems
To keep his nature pure

Learning to match the beat of the Old World man
Learning to catch the heat of the Third World man

He’s got to make his own mistakes
And learn to mend the mess he makes
He’s old enough to know what’s right
But young enough not to choose it
He’s noble enough to win the world
But weak enough to lose it —
He’s a New World man…

He’s a radio receiver
Turned to factories and farms
He’s a writer and arranger
And a young boy bearing arms

He’s got a problem with his power
With weapons on patrol
He’s got to walk a fine line
And keep his self-control

Trying to save the day for the Old World man
Trying to pave the way for the Third World man

He’s not concerned with yesterday
He knows constant change is here today
He’s noble enough to know what’s right
But weak enough not to choose it
He’s wise enough to win the world
But fool enough to lose it —
He’s a New World man…”

Like I’ve said before, these guys speak to me – and today, they really did.

Upon a Lighted Stage…

September 9, 2012 Bristow, VA

I’m not one to keep track, so I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Rush, but this was the latest.

The show Sunday night was only the second night on the Clockwork Angels tour, but much controversy has already been ginned up.  It seems that some fans are upset about the setlist.  What ever.

The guys have been at it for over 40 years and their latest, Clockwork Angels, is their 20th studio album.  I figure that they can play what ever the hell they want.

They opened the show with Subdivisions from the Signals album.  I thought it was an interesting choice, since it’s not their most energetic song.  It worked though.  Really well. Alex’s solo was blistering.

The remainder of the first set was taken mainly from what are commonly referred to as the “Keyboard Albums”, including such songs as Force 10, Grand Designs and Middletown Dreams.

The set did end on a pretty high note with Far Cry from Snakes and Arrows, which was preceded by the instrumental Where’s My Thing which contained the first of three, yes three, Neil Peart drum solos.

After a short intermission, during which a standing string octet assembled on stage behind Neil’s drum riser, the band returned to the stage to play Clockwork Angels.

This is the first time Rush has toured with additional musicians, preferring instead to use triggers and electronics to reproduce their studio trickery.  I must say the strings where a brilliant touch.  Not only did they give an accurate representation of the songs, they allowed Geddy to be free from the keyboards and roam the stage, romping like a man half his age.

After the last Clockwork Angels track, the string section stayed on for two additional songs.  I thought this sounded amazing.

The band included a tribute to recently passed away Astronaut, Neil Armstrong during Dreamline.  Rush has a long relationship with NASA, so this was not unexpected, but was a pleasant surprise – it gave me chills.

This was followed by the third and final drum solo.  Did you catch that?  THREE drum solos?!  Who does that?  We both know who.

The string section exited the stage, not to the left, after playing on YYZ – again, a very nice contribution to the song.  I’m sure that the tempo of the classic, Grammy nominated instrumental was a bit faster than normal.  I loved it.

The final song of the second set was one of my favorites, Working Man.  They trotted out the now classic reggae intro, before jumping in to the traditional arrangement at the first chorus.  If there is any doubt about Alex’s skills at his age, they had to be dispelled during his solo on Working Man – he absolutely shredded it.  It was Malmsteen fast!

To close the show, the band played probably their best known song.  Everyone knows Tom Sawyer.  It was greeted with a roar of approval.

Alex, Geddy and Neil gifted us all with 2112’s Overture, Temples of Syrinx and Grand Finale to close out the show – a grand gesture to be sure.

See them if you can.