The Dragon Line Review – RUSH: Energy Taken to Innovative Echelons

The most energy efficient Entertainment Center in the known world was all a-buzz as it prepared to play host to some of thee most efficiently entertaining energy that I have ever encountered… Before hand, scores of people were standing in the rain awaiting their cue to enter, and by the time it was over, every one of them would feel as if they had been energized… you could feel it in the air like a warm frigid presence that escalates into a swelling of cold heated sweat that raises the temperature of the blood to the point of boiling in the fires of anticipation… and in that moment you know that you are a part of something bigger than yourself… you are among family… you are surrounded by friends… and Nothing beats the pre-buzz of a Rush concert… after all, these three guys remind us that life is not only worth living, but that figuring out why it is, is just as important, and let me say, seeing and hearing RUSH in this new state of the art venue only added to the already encompassing sensory overload experience.

Through our friends at we got a chance to chat with the marketing director and the general manager of the Pittsburgh Consol Energy Center before the show, he told us that The Pittsburgh Consol Energy Center is not only the most acoustically sound entertainment facility nationwide, but that it is also the most energy efficient. In fact, as of August 4, 2010, The Consol Energy Center, which was built for the Pittsburgh Penguins, achieved The LEED Gold Certification, becoming the first NHL Arena to reach that standard of sustainability as announced by the Sports & Exhibition Authority… LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it was established by the United States Green Building Council, it is the nationally-accepted standard for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. The LEED ratings system is based on a points system organized by categories such as building materials and resources, energy, atmosphere, and water efficiency, as well as indoor environmental quality and innovation and design. The project and development of the Energy Center achieved 42 points under this system, as verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). A minimum of 39 points is what is required for a facility to receive a LEED Gold certification. The official designation is LEED-NC Version 2.2

Of its 42 points, The Pittsburgh Consol Energy Center received nine points for sustainable sites, nine for indoor environmental quality, eight for energy and atmosphere, seven for materials and resources, five for innovation in design and four for water efficiency. The project received high marks for water use reduction, recycled materials, regional materials, certified wood demolition and construction waste diversion, and energy efficiency.

The General Manager of the Consol Energy Center, Mr. Roberts, had arranged through the marketing director Ms. Kramer, to meet with the elders prior to the show, having limited time and an extremely hectic schedule, as should well be expected on a night such as this, he was very gracious and generous with his time.

He explained that the design of the venue was centered on providing for the best acoustics possible in order to enhance the experience of everyone, collectively as well as individually, who are in attendance at any given event, he stated that this was done by a series of curtains that were hung at the back of each seating section as well as at the back end of the stage and that the seats were constructed of acoustic materials and insulated with acoustic foam, and that the floor of the venue was covered over during events such as this with a series of raised platforms that bounce the sound back up into the air, and “Oh, what a sound… As the venue went dark a mighty Roar arose from the crowd as if it were a Dragon’s fire spewing forth from the depths of the molten core of the Earth… and as the video stimuli was set in motion, the story of a thirty six year… 13,140 day, 315,360 hour, 18,921,600 minute, 1,135,296,000 second journey began to unfold…

In ago time, not so far away, In a neighborhood called Willowdale, This may have happened…

RUSH opened the Time Machine with a trip back to the days of Permanent Waves… with the members of the band all playing two roles in a video that took place in an old 60’s style diner… Alex was playing the role of the band’s portly Manager and as the guitarist in the band… Geddy was playing bass in the band while vocalizing in pure ego fashion, and also portraying the cook behind the counter… and Neil played the part of a patron at the diner awaiting his order from the cook, while his counterpart beat the skins, as the band counterparts were jamming… “The Spirit of Radio” in their Japanese kimono garb and long flowing hair with a German milk maid as their waitress, Alex as the manager stepped up to a machine and pressed a button… “The Spirit of Radio” began again, this time, as a polka… after some deliberation on the part of the patron, the cook and the manager, he hit the button again and turned “The Spirit Of Radio” into a disco song, at this point the laughter of some in attendance such as myself turned to tears, oh the insanity… Visions of Vinnie Barborino and the Bee-Gees came to mind… RUSH: NO… Please… not Disco… anything but Disco… Turn it off… change it… Please… before my ears bleed… Its Sacrilege I tell you… SAC-RA-LAGE…

As if feeling the aching of the audience in attendance, and not wanting to degrade their perfection any further, The Manager hits the button again and then the song became Countrified. Their portly manager was not impressed until they rocked it up and our favorite three took the stage and busted into the all time iconic live tune.

The audience cheered when the lights were cast upon them… and as the familiar beginning tones of “Concert Hall” were played, all in attendance felt it a fitting opening for this new venue and their first appearance in it, just a stones throw away from The Pittsburgh Civic Arena where it all began 36 years ago. The mix of comedy and music is always the perfect recipe to open up a Rush show.

The time machines were in full gear as they commanded that “Time Stand still” which as Mom puts it, is a pure “87” era reflection in relation to friends and family that still holds true today as RUSH and its audience continue to bring new generations to reflect upon the muse. Scattered among the crowd were the older traditional style fans as well as those of a younger stature that were brought here by their parents and elders for the experience of a lifetime. Our newly formed acquaintance, Bill, whom we had met at the Pittsburgh showing of the RUSH Documentary: “Beyond the Lighted Stage”, showed off, not one, but two iconic symbols of his loyalty to not only the Band but the Fans as well. One was the blue jean vest that his son was wearing, which, may I add, as he said, was the very same vest that he had worn as a child to one of his first RUSH concerts, and two, was a sign that his daughter Kelsey had made with a little help from the family as a remembrance of all the great and memorable shows that RUSH has given us around the world since their first one ever, right here in The Burgh.

As Time Stand Still played on, Time itself seemed to transcend in that moment, it was as if a paradox were forming, one that would bring all generations into a synchronous orbit with one another.

The magic continued as they transcended into “Presto”, with its upbeat outlook of positivity in regards to viewpoint. Mom was jumping around like the young teen of yesteryear that she was when the song first came out in 1989. She truly was in a time machine, and it only took them three songs to transport her back, She has told me many times about her memories of the “89” Presto tour, which by the way, was the second time that she had attended a RUSH concert.

At that point the triggers were engaged and the gloves were off. The band grabbed the audience by the shirt and was telling us to “Stick it out”, and we all felt that {Rush; sorry I couldn’t resist… heh, heh, heh, that comes when we proclaim, “That’s our band”, building us up to a heightened state of memory awareness with their sorted brand of magic and bringing us back to reality and making us feel alive within our own senses, and ready to accept responsibility for ourselves! These very attributes were followed up by “Working Them Angels” which correlates into an extension of these responsibilities that are within each one of us as individuals, and in the giving of tribute to the working classes of the past, this as well transcended the evening into a maelstrom of reflection in regards to the cultures of the industrial age.

Geddy gave his vocal chords a break and the visual sense of the RUSH storytelling mechanism took a its place ever so gently underneath the auditory stimuli of “Leave that Thing Alone!” an instrumental that my Uncle Scott once utilized when recording a video of naval fighter jets, and trust me folks, It’s a great flying song, I sometimes find myself listening to it on the headphones when I’m doing a solo over the Burgh. Geddy graciously thanked the audience for indulging them, although all of us fans know that RUSH is the ultimate indulgence.

As the concert went on, RUSH confirmed their quest for deeper knowledge as “Faithless” and “BU2B” were played, both of which ask us to follow up on the words of an historical authoritative figure and close personal friend of mine from the days of America’s founding as a Nation, Thomas Jefferson, Who once stated in a letter written in his own hand to his own nephew the following advice…

“Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be a God, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear”. At this point, Oh Dear Reader, I must beg a moment for a question… With this small morsel of insight now lodged into the soil of our recompense, Do we, having heard and understood the melodic and lyrical drive of such an ambitious undertaking, remember our passions of youth, and if so, do we continue to this day to question with boldness the existence of God, and, yet again, if we do so, do we not also question why a just God would allow pain and suffering in the world, for if we do not My Dear Reader, then are we not missing the point of our very reason for being…

As if feeling in that moment that our query was hanging out there awaiting an interpretive response… The Band answered us with an uncanny lack of subtlety by enforcing on their part an act of “Freewill” that is ever so slightly followed by a “Marathon”. Check this out and tell me that you don’t agree…

Freewill… “You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice… You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill, I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose Free will”…

Marathon… “From first to last, the peak is never past, something always fires the light that gets in your eyes… One moment’s high and glory rolls on by, like a streak of lightning that flashes across your face in the summer sky”…

Yes my minions, in this moment of query these two songs answer our questions firmly and with assurance… For as “Freewill” is the device that God gives each and every one of us, so that we may choose to question with boldness even his existence, and by doing so, either accept or deny it and thereby forever alter the circumstances of our own lives that we may find them to more suit our favor, in as much, it is the running of the race that is reflected upon in the song “Marathon” that directs us on how to best accomplish our goals and reach for those unforeseen pinnacles that we find within ourselves as we walk along the journey forever seeking the strength to overcome.

RUSH shows us this truth in the ever accurate bridge of the song; “You Can do a lot in a lifetime, if you don’t burn out to fast, you can make the most of the distance, but first you need endurance, first you got to last”, these lyrics show how a simple play on words can inspire life changing stamina. Mom has told me a few times about how she found the strength to endure through exams in her college years with the help of this song, she knew then, as now, that if you stick with it, you will most definitely benefit from the experience as well as the education.

The band finished the first set of the Time Machine Tour appropriately with a little song called “Subdivisions,” it was a reminder of our high school days, and those times when our band, RUSH, was the only consolation that we felt provided us with that strength that helped us to stand against peer pressure and isolation, and if I may quote George M. Cohan here, To Our Three Musketeers I say… “My Mother thanks you, My Father thanks you and I most assuredly thank you”… for understanding us, and sticking with us all of this time.

After eleven songs of intense playing, the guys had to take a break due to the band rapidly aging. Hey wait a minute, they’re in a time machine, they can be any age that they want, and they certainly proved it during the first set. They commanded the stage with the energy of youth and the experience of seasoned veteran rockers.

I think the audience needed a break as well, because Dad and I had gone off to the concessions and the Beer Lines were LONNNNGGG AS HHHEEELLLLLLLLL, so we decided to take some pics with fellow fans while waiting on our beverages, check out the Fan-Page for more photos taken during this short intermission… also at this time, a girl who was seated next to mom remarked to her that there were far fewer women than men at the concert. Mom said that if the bathroom lines were any indication, she would say that this was true… but she felt that it was because men just drink more beer. To all of the women who have graced the shows over the last thirty six years with their presence and beauty, I say, you are of a special breed, and I am proud that my Mom has been among you since 1978…

After a short break, the time machines appeared back on the big screen letting everyone know that the second act was about to start. We were blessed with more comedy from our favorite trio as we once again witnessed RUSH’S journey through time on the screen as they determined who would play what instrument. Can Alex play the bass, Geddy play drums, and Neil play the guitar? Apparently so, as these guys are multi-talented musicians but when our favorite trio waltzed back on stage to the tune of “Tom Sawyer”, Geddy assumed his traditional role as keyboardist, bass player and singer, Alex wailed on his electric guitar, and Neil kept the tricky drum rhythm that has been the Band’s signature song ever since it was created in 1981.

The story continues as we further the journey into the epic of Moving Pictures by situating ourselves at our hosts request into the Driver’s Seat of the “Red Barchetta.” Alex’s quiet harmonics build into the nuances that one can only capture when one emerges themselves into the song’s main character, with the subtle hints at acceleration and the thumping lower end bass, the build up of the intensity makes one feel as if they themselves are behind the wheel… well placed arpeggios feed off of the rhythm as it builds the structure that gives the listener the sensation of going full speed while maintaining total control as they “race back to the farm to dream with an Uncle by the Fireside”.

As we all arrive at the farm they stroll into “YYZ”, the sterling instrumental based on the Toronto airport code, which showcases our boys collective and individual talents as they jam out together and trade the spotlight, a showcase style drum solo answers to a bass call that gives way to a guitar solo that tops it all off. Mom pointed out to me recently that it is so much fun to watch them while they are having fun; she said that that is the true definition of the spreading of positive energy. It’s contagious… Hell, Its downright SpunJackedian, Thx Dad… At this point the opening riffs of “Limelight” begin, and take us back to seeing these guys in the “80’s across the street at the Civic Arena.

This song, with the literal Limelight of the stage dancing in amusement park fashion, reminds us that the spotlight is comprised of artists who look for the deeper meaning in life and find success through the observance and imitating life through art. Following this song up with “The Camera Eye” was to me, an extension of the overall observance, for as most RUSH Fans know, this song has long been considered to be a bit long and a tad too artsy for previous tours, but on this night it is brought to life on this; the Time Machine Tour, to gratify and pay homage to all of the fans that have been attending RUSH concerts so faithfully over the years and who appreciate the inception of concept. A cute cartoon contrasts the seriousness of the “Witch Hunt” and the album ends with my personal favorite, “Vital Signs.” Wavering keyboards along with reggae guitar and bass riffs showcase the confusion that the personal computer, at the time in its infantile stages, would bring about as we journeyed into the information age.

The journey then continues as we move 29 years ahead and “Caravan” with the train of thought in syncopated cadence as a young man discovers his destiny in a dream state with the melodic chorus “I can’t stop thinking big”… and true hearted fans know that that is what

RUSH has always advocated… that desire for pursuing our dreams through a combination of hard work and the knowledge that persistence will always pay off!

Throughout life, haven’t we all found these ideals to be true and is that not the very definition as to why there is such a symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship between the band and their fans. We feed off of each other, and we do so with one intentional purpose; to create positive energy and therefore yield positive results… At this time, Geddy and Alex, deciding that it was time for a little break, stepped off stage to allow the Master Percussionist to show his many talents… If I may indulge for a moment… I would like to sort of quote Chester the Cheetah, who said in a recently re-run episode of Family Guy… “There is no Freakin’ Drummer better than Neil Peart”!

I mean, C’mon… The man commands his instrument with so much precision and accuracy, first he weighs in on the acoustic side, rocking out his drummer roots, and as the drum set rotates he displays his worldly influence, leading us into the jazz sophistication that he chose to incorporate into his playing style in the mid nineties, and he brings it all together with such passion that one can’t help but be transformed by the intensity.

Suddenly the spotlight shifts to the right of the stage… Or should I say, Stage Right, where it is now focused on Alex… as he displays a sort of genuine joyful emotion while playing his stationary guitar with a new twist on an old classic, and I must interject Mom’s feelings here, she said, “I admit, I didn’t recognize the piece he was playing and that was because it was a new intro for “Closer to the Heart”, a song that was put into the vault after the Counterparts tour and brought back to life 16 years later, and with the audience wondering at this point where they will journey to next, they really knock us for a loop when they take us all the way back in time to the discover the future of “2112 (Overture /Temples of Syrinx). Chronologically, in your years as they are counted here on Earth you are about 100 years away from that date at this very moment… and unfortunately every day, your world is getting ever closer to the reality of Big Brother, who will one day be, “Taking care of everything, the words you hear and the songs you sing and the pictures that you plant into your eye”. This point is made by our beloved trio when they transitionally evolve into “Far Cry” from “the world we thought we’d inherit.” Are these guys’ prophets, or what, Perhaps their predictions were about 100 years ahead of schedule? That may be so, but the more important lesson that they teach us is that as individuals we can manifest our own realities through our implicit, artistic, creative, and explicit energy.

Rush exited the stage and the crowd cheered. They encored with “La Villa Strangiato” and a reggae version of “Working Man”, proving that hard work, in the end, is the essence of our nature and the very key itself to enjoying our Time here on Earth… and that it can be a lot of fun, if you do for a living what it is that you enjoy doing. The Show ended with a clip of the Bands biggest fans, Peter and Sydney from the Movie entitled; “I Love You Man”, they had shown up and were crashing the Band’s green room, choosing to eat Neil’s sandwich, Sydney turns to Peter and says, “Ya Know, RUSH consists of three regular guys”. Well to that Dear Reader, I say yes, but let us all keep in mind, that though they may be three very regular, very down to earth guys, they have an extra-ordinary sense for discovering their own individual talents, and they have come together in the true fashion of Divine Intervention over the last Thirty-Six years, Time and Time again that they may stir the imagination and inspire the creativity of their fans, over the span of nearly four decades they have never left us wanting, and ” In the End” what more can we… as Created beings, hope to do on this earth but spread this kind of positive energy… Let us remember the words of the Late John F. Kennedy who stated;

“What kind of a peace do we seek? I’m talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life worth living… Not just peace in our Time but peace in all Time… Our problems are man made… therefore they can be solved by man… For in the final analysis, our most basic common link… is that, We all inhabit this small planet… We all breathe the same air… We all cherish our children’s future, and We are all… mortal”… That being said may I close by stating this… I am sure that I speak for all in attendance at The Pittsburgh Consol Energy Center that night when I say that each of us left the concert that night in the highest of spirits because of that positive energy, and that we are all looking forward to our next RUSH… So until then let us remember The Wisdom of Thy Elders;

Life is a… SpunJacked… Soak it up… Live it LIVE!