Neil Peart: An Appreciation

“Against the run of the mill / Swimming against the stream.”

“We break the surface tension with our wild kinetic dreams…”

“So much style without substance / So much stuff without style…”

“It’s hard to recognize the real thing / It comes along once in a while.”

-from “Grand Designs” by Rush (1985)

We all fantasize about meeting our heroes some day, no matter what cautions conventional wisdom might offer to the contrary. For but one example, I used to have literal recurring dreams about meeting Neil Peart, renowned drummer and lyricist for the band Rush, though with his shocking death last week from brain cancer at the age of 67, those long-standing desires have now sadly crossed over into the realm of permanent fantasy. Neil didn’t do meet and greet sessions, either before or after shows. He tried for a little while at the beginning, but found it simply wasn’t his thing. When Rush’s breathtaking run ended on their own terms in 2015, the band was as or more popular than they’d been in decades, and forty years of continuity is a heck of a long time to deny your fans the access they crave. But Neil and his admiration society had an understanding. Despite acclimation far and wide as one of a handful of the best drummers in the history of rock and roll – for, at the end of the day, he was surely the most influential – Neil was a humble, mild-mannered, and famously private person. Adulation on any level made him uncomfortable, and adoring throngs arguably don’t come any more vocal or vociferous than Rush fans. Continue reading “Neil Peart: An Appreciation”

Concert review: Rush

rush

WARNING: What follows contains, necessarily, not only the requisite whole lotta words (even for me) but also a good number of details (set list specifics, other surprises) that I, personally, would not necessarily want to know if I still had a pending ticket to see this tour. Please tread lightly if you do.

Abandon all objectivity, ye who enter here, for I am a Rush fan. Sorry & Thx.

Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH – June 8, 2015

There’s a level on which I’m so close to the music of Rush that it makes it functionally impossible to write about the band. That would help explain the excessive amount of time I’ve spent pondering how to start this review over the past several days, or the handful of false starts I did put to page only to subsequently abandon. Note that I never said “write objectively”, because that’s already a non-starter. When it comes to Rush, I am strictly dispassionate, in much the same way that Jack Skellington, George Bailey, Ebenezer Scrooge (reformed), Clark Griswold, or Buddy the Elf can either take the subject of Christmas or leave it. The Canadian power trio has been entrenched as my favorite band for just over two decades now, a position only three other artists have ever even officially held, with comparatively little sense of permanence and for half the time combined. Continue reading “Concert review: Rush”