The Rush Project - December's Playlist

The Rush Project - December's Playlist

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And so it continues. According to my Last.fm stats, Rush is now my 7th most played artist, up from 18th place last month. They’re well on their way to cracking my Top 5. And based on what I’ve heard this month, I’m very cool with that.

As I mentioned last month, I’ve been listening to the following albums.

Yes, I jumped ahead and picked up Clockwork Angels. As luck would have it, Rush played here on November 30, so right in the middle of my crush, I got to see them live. I figured since I was going, I’d better at least be familiar with their current album. It was a wise move on my part. More on this in a minute. On to the albums I’ve living with this past month.

Hemispheres opens with the epic 18:08 Cygnus X-1, Book II: Hemispheres, their last studio recording to exceed the twelve minute mark. In keeping with their history, it’s an excellent song. It’s no 2112, but it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Rush has said they spent more time recording this song than they did recording the entire Fly By Night album. It was this song that convinced the band to focus on shorter, less monstrous recordings. Circumstances is the odd-man out on this album. It’s a good song, but when packed with others, it pales. The Trees has long been one of my favorite songs and, of course, La Villa Strangiato, their first instrumental, is a work of art.

Last month I mentioned I might have owned Permanent Waves at one point and, after hearing it, I still don’t know. If I did, it wasn’t something l listened to very often. The Spirit of Radio and Freewill have long been favorites. They’re perfect in every respect. The keyboard solo, if you can call it that, in Jacob’s Ladder was unexpected. While this album is their first since Rush to not contain anything of exceptional length, Jacob’s Ladder at 7:28 and Natural Science at 9:17 still flirt with the epic. Entre Nous (“Between Us” en français) is surprisingly enjoyable. The properly titled Different Strings is a decidedly un-Rush-like song, but Getty’s vocals kept me engaged. Natural Science, according to Wikipedia, was featured, with a different arrangement, on every tour from 1996 to 2002, which kind of blows my mind. I listen to this album more often than I thought I would. It’s a pleasure.

On a not-at-all-irrelevant tangent, the line from Freewill

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

has stuck with me since I first heard it. It’s one of those lines that suddenly, randomly, and sua sponte pops into my head. That’s what Neil Peart would call “long reverb” or “a slow decay.”

Moving Pictures, wow. Everything about this album is pure joy. I was surprised to find I know most of these songs. Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, YYZ, and Limelight were instantly familiar. Now that I think about it, I was familiar with more songs on this album than any of the previous ones. The Camera Eye, Witch Hunt and Vital Signs grew on me quickly. The Camera Eye is their last studio recording to break the ten minute mark. Vital Signs is one of those songs that really speaks to me. I had it on repeat for about a solid day. This album is a must-have and will probably, some day, be on my list of all-timers.

Clockwork Angels … I don’t even have words for this album. The lyrics are amazing, probably Peart’s best work. And holy hell, these guys are tight. It’s more than impressive that, after 38 years together, they’re still producing their highest quality. I mean, thank all that’s holy for it, but wow. Is there a bad song on this thing? No. And here’s a word of advice: This thing is a black hole and once you start listening, you will not escape it’s gravity. It will consume you and all that you are. It’s entered my list, along with A Farewell to Kings and 2112, as my all-time favorite Rush albums. There’s also a Clockwork Angels book that I’m seriously considering snagging.

This months albums are:

With these albums, I’m leaving any semblance of familiarity behind. I’ve heard of these albums, and there are probably a handful of songs I’ll be familiar with but, from this point on, I’m pretty much treading new ground.

Excitement.

Back to the concert. It was amazing. Courtesy of Rush is a Band Blog, here’s the setlist:

Set 1:

  • Video Intro (Gearing Up)
  • Subdivisions
  • The Big Money
  • Force 10
  • Grand Designs
  • Middletown Dreams
  • Territories
  • Analog Kid
  • The Pass
  • Where’s My Thing (with drum solo)
  • Far Cry

Intermission (Clockwork Angels String Ensemble enters)

Set 2:

  • Video Intro (The Appointment)
  • Caravan
  • Clockwork Angels
  • The Anarchist
  • Carnies
  • The Wreckers
  • Headlong Flight (with drum solo)
  • Halo Effect (with guitar solo intro)
  • Wish Them Well
  • The Garden
  • Manhattan Project
  • The Percussor (drum solo)
  • Red Sector A
  • YYZ
  • (Clockwork Angels String Ensemble exits)
  • The Spirit of Radio

Encore:

  • Tom Sawyer
  • 2112 Overture/Temples of Syrinx/Grand Finale
  • Video Outro (Office Of The Watchmaker)

So yeah, it’s a really good thing I jumped ahead and snagged Clockwork Angels because that was the bulk of Set 2. Given my unfamiliarity with most of Set 1, I’m really glad I did that. The show was astounding. The band was incredibly tight. All around, it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. The Clockwork Angels String Ensemble was impressive and made the second set come alive. Rush has announced that they’re bringing the show back to North American in 2013 and if they come close to me, I will 100% be present. It’s a stupid good concert.

And with that, it’s upward and onward. Let’s get the music started already.