“You’re an Idiot If You Don’t Think Rush is the Best Live Band in the World”

That headline is a direct quote from this story at Noisey. The best live band in the world? Not hyperbole, in my opinion.

I went most of my adult life largely ignoring Rush. Yes, the same high school buddy who turned me on to Steely Dan used to serenade me with the bass harmonic intro from “Red Barchetta” in the attic space above his parents’ garage. Not long after, a college friend sat me down with a loaded bowl and made me admit that “Temple of the Syrinx” is legitimately heavy. For almost half my life, Moving Pictures and 2112 sat dusty, neglected, lost in my vinyl collection like a rusting guitar hidden behind a sacred waterfall.

When Rush came through Portland on the Vapor Trails tour in 2002, I nearly went. I was curious but decided to catch Slayer at a small club instead. I figured that Neil Peart and Dave Lombardo were in the same town on the same night, and since I have free will, I made a choice.

Then in 2004, my dad—a guy who has seen the Rolling Stones, the Stooges, the MC5, and Black Sabbath—said to me, “You know, I’ve never seen Rush.” I was in the same boat, and figured that catching a dinosaur act of that caliber with my old man would be a good time. And hell, I’d missed them the last time and every tour before.

As we were cruising toward the handicapped parking area, my dad rolled a joint with one hand while driving us between two security checkpoints. I was impressed. But not nearly as impressed as when the house lights came down and the R30 tour began under the roof of a giant shed in Southern Washington state. Surrounded by white people of all ages and stripes—cowboys, Microsoft engineers, kids, parents, and grandparents—I witnessed a revelation.

Live music is my business. No exaggeration, I see at least 100 shows per year. Watching R30flipped a switch. In the cannon gale of that immaculate Rush sound, I realized that any chance I have to see Rush means enjoying the best show in any given calendar year. This July I had the pleasure of reviewing the R40 tour in both Seattle and Portland, marking my eighth and ninth Rush concerts in the last ten years. Below are seven reasons why they are still the best live band on the planet.

Read on. Meanwhile, Alex Lifeson is feeling much, much better.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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