The summer of Rush is at an end, at least around here. Don and I, with Kelly and Gord this time, went to see Rush again this week. They played Friday night at Scotiabank Place, here in town. I do admit it was nice to get home just after midnight instead of at 3am!
Their set list is virtually identical on all their dates this tour, with the exception of one song. Distant Early Warning is sometimes replaced with their cover of Summertime Blues. They did Summertime Blues in Montreal so I was very pleased to hear Distant Early Warning in Ottawa.
Remember I said the crowd was more subdued than I recall from years ago, probably because we’re all getting older? Yea, scratch that. It seems it was Montreal that was more subdued. The Ottawa show was an entirely different experience.
Granted we were in the ninth row in Ottawa, and I expect those close to the stage to be more swept up in the experience, but I could see those in the stands were not sitting down nearly as much as we did in Montreal. I didn’t hear the crowd singing in Montreal, either. The enthusiasm of the crowd seemed to have the band more into the show than they were in Montreal as well. It was great to see, and it was also great to be close enough to see it better too. Again on Geddy’s side, we were just a few seats from the aisle toward the centre. I would’ve loved to be closer, but we had no trouble seeing the band’s facial expressions.
When the band came back for the encore, they threw a number of bundled up shirts out into the crowd and we almost managed to get one. The first landed just two rows ahead of us, and later, another was just a bit high, being plucked out of the air by some teens in the row behind us. Both Don and Gord jumped for it and I was afraid they’d tumble backwards over our seats. The guy who did get the other shirt was so pleased, I thought he was going to burst with pride. He showed us his prize and I was impressed to see it was no a regular concert shirt. The front said “Henhouse” above a photo of a cooked whole chicken. This was a reference to the chicken ovens Geddy has behind him on stage. I laughed out loud when he flipped the shirt around and I saw the back said “Only the rooster gets better chicken.”
Before the show, Don mentioned that Neil improvises the first portion of the drum solo. I’m glad he said this in advance, because it was more different than I would have expected. He hasn’t improvised this much in his solos before, and it was really nice to hear.
Don read on Neil’s site that he will sometime send out a security guy during the intermission to give drum sticks to someone in the audience who catches his attention. He once sent sticks to a fan he noticed sitting in the same place for a number of shows. He sent sticks to a fan who was holding a sign that read “My 60th Show and Still No Drumsticks. I’m Just Saying…” Don proposed making a sign, but we both agreed it would be a pain in the ass to bring in and hold. If it were a sure thing, we’d certainly do it, but we hesitated at undertaking what would likely be a distraction from the show with no pay-off.
Everything changed during a quick lunchtime visit to Canadian Tire. Don noticed oven mitts on sale and he suggested we might try to work in Geddy’s chicken ovens with a drum stick request written on the mitts. Brilliant! With the intersecting meaning of “drum sticks” involving both drums and chicken, we had the basis of our phrase. Four dollars later we had our oven mitts and we went at them with magic markers. I wrote “Got drumsticks?” on mine while Don wrote “Mmmmm, Chicken” on one side of his, and “Got drumsticks?” on the reverse. Unfortunately, the ninth row was farther away from the stage than I expected and I pretty much gave up hope before the show even started. Don was more of a trooper, holding up his glove when I didn’t think there was any hope of it being seen. The first time they turned on the house-lights so the band could have a look at us, we brandished our mitts to the great amusement of the people who sat in the rows ahead of us who turned to look back at the crowd.
Kelly and Gord were not part of the oven mitt plan, and we took perverse pleasure in not explaining what the phrases meant and why we had oven mitts at all. It turned out that Kelly was responsible for the most “mitt exposure.” She wore them more than we did, and even ran up to the stage with them a few times, unfortunately to no avail. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I thought to myself that we’d have had a fighting chance if only we were sitting closer. In thinking about it further, I marvelled that I was actually complaining to myself about sitting in the far reaches of the ninth row. I stopped this line of thought immediately, once I realised how ridiculous I was being.
In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been the least bit surprised at Kelly’s enthusiasm. I met her when we worked at Corel, and before I had even really spoken to her in the office, I saw her and Gord with a huge banner at the Ottawa Roll the Bones concert in the Civic Centre. I remember thinking to myself, “Hey, she looks just like a woman who works in my department. Naaaa, couldn’t be. What are the chances?” Despite the chances, it was her. The show was on November 26, 1991 in the Civic Centre. Where does the time go?
And while we’re talking about where the time goes, the Ottawa Rush show we attended this week was on the twenty-third anniversary, to the day, of the first Rush concert Don went to. He first saw them in support of Grace Under Pressure at Maple Leaf Gardens on September 21, 1984. My first show was one album earlier, in November 1982, twenty-five years ago this year. Gord shreds all of us, having seen them on the 2112 tour in 1976. He probably doesn’t want to be reminded of the thirty-one years that have passed since his first Rush concert!
So that’s it. Another great album and another fabulous concert. The Snakes and Arrows tour is on its way to Europe in October, and afterwards, the band will enjoy a well deserved rest.
So when’s the next album coming out, exactly?