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König Pilsener Arena
Oberhausen, Germany
September 17th, 2004

After an absence of well over 12 years, the mighty Rush has decided wisely to return to European soil for their 30th anniversary tour. Shows all over Europe where sold out within minutes, but the Oberhausen gig surprisingly didn’t. The top ring of the giant arena was closed, but the floor in front of the massive stage was extremely crowded and impossible to get through. And this is just the boost a band needs... Tonight it was Rush entering the stage and everyone who stayed home, was oh so wrong!

The opening video was mighty funny and as the three masters of prog enter the stage, they kicked into a fine blend of instrumental outtakes from the early days. It is a celebrated taste of so much more to come, but the crowd already is going wild. Adding some fuel to the lit fire with “Spirit of Radio”, this will truly be a night to remember. Songs like “Force Ten”, the driving “Animate”, “Subdivisions”, “Earthshine”, and the classic “Red Barchetta” that is filled with gimmicks and special effects. The movie screens become one with the stage and lightning used. The lights come down onto the stage to give us the impression of the race/chase during the songs. All is brought with such extreme perfection that I have to pinch myself occasionally. But it is Rush, and therefore never over the top! The interaction with the audience is given a lot of attention by Alex and Geddy and they look reborn. Lee is swinging and dancing all over the stage smiling widely while Lifeson is focussed on his marvellous playing and sticks more to his base in front of his Kettner stacks. But he also is clearly enjoying the response to their performance. Topping on the first set are a sublime and inspired version of “Roll the Bones”, complete with rapping skulls in the background, “Bravado”, a sloppy and improvised “YYZ”, and the classic “The Trees”, that is sung along to word by word. The first real return to the new era comes with “The Seeker” from the Who and “One little victory”. It concludes their first set before a half hour intermission. A break well needed by a large chip of the audience.

Rush returns with “Tom Sawyer”, the song that immediately sets the hall aflame again. 30 Years of experience are truly paying off judging how well this setlist is built. After “Dreamline” and “Secret Touch”, the next highlight is a remarkable version of “Between the Wheels” with a funny animation of ‘our’ well known Rush bunnies. “Mystic Rythms’ however never did it for me and the song drowned in it’s own bass sound because of the sound and bass level handled during the show. Rush’ sophisticated sound doesn’t need the volume been pumped to the max.

“Red Sector A” flows perfectly into the next showcase of skill and finesse; Neil’s drum solo. Always a cherished moment for most fans, although it is nearly a rerun. I decide to focus on Peart himself this time, and it is a pleasure to see this man perform. A surgical precision in his stick handling, and his amazing skills will seize the heartbeat of every drummer and fan. Peart’s big band ending is backed by an on screen explosion of visual art from ‘a better vanished time’. A homage to the old days and tribute to those that influenced our hero: Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. The thrown in black and white footage of dancers and Bo Jangles did the rest. Marvelous! Lee and Lifeson join the party again for a real treat. Rush going acoustic. An intimate and moody “Resist” and “Heart full of Soul” show us an unknown side to our heroes.

All hell breaks loose in Germany when “2112” is announced with the classical guitar interlude, to make way for a furious and intense thunderstorm of one of rock’s finest songs ever. “La Villa Strangiato”, “By-Tor And The Snow Dog”, a long stretched version of “Xanadu”, and the mighty “Working Man” with a long and driven instrumental jam boost us back to early years once again to close the regular set. The band is celebrated and sheered back on stage by a crowd now going insane. When the power trio sets foot on stage again, it is time for some retro again with their tribute to the stars; “Feedback”. The marvellous version of “Summertime Blues” on the disc sounds bleak considering what the band does with it while performing in front of an audience going bezerk. It just explodes off the edges and flows straight into “Crossroads” from the same CD EP. Rush wraps up this night of celebration with the unexpected “Limelight”. Once again technique, enthusiasm and a sheer enthusiastic audience make magic.

When the band leaves the arena, it is time for us linger back to a set of sheer brilliance from a band that managed to put up one of the finest showcases of light and sound of the last couple of years. Rush did give it their best with an inspired performance and I can only hope it will not take them another 12-13 years to return. In the worst case, they might...but that would be my personal nightmare. Let’s hope for the best... And linger...

Edwin van Hoof

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