The Metal Files

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RUSH Concert Review, Austin, TX, May 16, 2015

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rushTonight marked the third time in as many decades that I’ve seen RUSH.  First time was in Chapel Hill, NC on the Counterparts Tour.  My main takeaway from that show was that RUSH was having an off night.  They didn’t sound tight and I can remember seeing Peart dropping a stick a few times.  Not helping was that Candlebox opened.  I also caught the R30 Tour in Virginia Beach, VA.  The main thing I remember from that show is how utterly bored I was overall.  It was cool that they played By-Tor and the Snow Dog and some other classics, but I just couldn’t get into it.  I was supposed to catch them on The Power Windows Tour but my grades were bad and I had to sell my ticket.  Bummer.

I hadn’t planned on seeing tonight’s show but after a decent poker game last night, the show ended up being free.  I scored a ticket mid-day and rode with some friends to the show.  I had spied the current setlists before buying my ticket and the selection looked pretty good.

They opened the show with 3 songs from Clockwork Angels, all of which I was not familiar.  They then went into Far Cry, which I like, and The Main Monkey Business from Snakes and Arrows, another that I wasn’t familiar with.  They continued with one each from Vapor Trails, Counterparts and the title track from Roll the Bones.  As a new song from each album was played, the “crew” from Moving Pictures would change stage props matching what the stage looked like on each respective tour.  The setlists from the last 4 shows showed them playing either Distant Early Warning or Between the Wheels from Grace Under Pressure.  Sadly for me, we got Between the Wheels.  That was pretty much the only letdown for me.  They finished their first set with Subdivisions and that finally got the crowd going.

The second started with Tom Sawyer and then into The Camera Eye.  Some stops on the tour were getting Red Barchetta.  I was a-ok without it as The Camera Eye is probably my favorite song from Moving Pictures.  This set was great containing Jacob’s Ladder, Cygnus X-1, much of 2112, Spirit of Radio, Closer to the Heart and Xanadu.

The encore was really good and consisted of Lakeside Park from my favorite RUSH album, Caress of Steel.  They then went into Anthem and 2 from the debut to close the show, What You’re Doing and Working Man.

It was an enjoyable show and easily the best of the 3 times I had seen them.  Geddy’s playing was superb.    He also botched a few lyrics here and there and it was good to see him be a human even though he had a teleprompter on his keyboard.  His voice sounded pretty good and he didn’t reach too hard to hit notes he knew he couldn’t hit.  Peart was on his game as was Lifeson.  It was noticeable, however, that many of the songs were played slower than their original album speed.  That was no surprise as those guys aren’t getting any younger.

On meeting Cheap Trick (Concert Review), May 16, 2014, Austin, TX

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Tonight was the 4th time I’ve seen Cheap Trick in the last 2 years and the 5th time overall.  As always they put on an energetic show and it was a ton of fun.

Earlier this week I took the decision to buy the VIP/meet and greet pass to hopefully get The Book signed.  Immediately after paying for it, I received an automated email stating the details and rules of the meet and greet.  In bold letters, “NO AUTOGRAPHS” was written halfway down.  Wait…what?  It was the WHOLE reason I paid for this.  I honestly didn’t give a rat’s ass about a photo op.  You also get a shirt, VIP laminate, poster and a “special tour gift”, all of which will be mailed.  Upon receiving the email, I fired an email back asking for a refund and got denied.  I please my case one more time and the rep from the company who puts on the meet and greet said, “just bring the book and see what happens.”

Show day arrives and I get to the venue at the stated time and get in the line with the others.  Several folks said, “no autographs, you know” after seeing my bag with the book strapped over my shoulder.  “I’ll take my chances.”  We’re let inside and reform a line by the backstage door and they let us in 5 at a time.  One person at a a time was then let in to stand in front of the band and get a picture taken.  I was the 5th in the first group, walked up to the band, pulled out the book and said, “They said no autographs but I’d forgo the photo if you’d sign this book.”  Rick asks what the book is and I explain that it’s a book about metal bands but they’re listed and pictured in it as a reference.  Robin just smiles and says, “Weird.”  Tom says, “Hey, let’s play one of our metal songs tonight!”  Rick then asks who said no autographs and I told him the rules in the email.  “Well fuck them, they’re not here.   Where’s your pen?”  I hand him the Sharpie and he signs the Cheap Trick page and Robin and Tom sign their picture.  Then Robin says, “Now let’s do this photo, man.”  So we did the photo which I assume will be emailed out.  It was pretty cool.  Before walking away, I asked if they were going to play Southern Girls and Ricck says, “We’re not far enough south for that one.”  I love that song and they’ve played it on the recent tours in just about every city but Austin for whatever reason.  Rick’s son, Daxx (drums), smiled and looked at me and mouthed. “we’re playing it.”  Rick and Tom each hand me a guitar pick and that was it.  Out the back door.  But SUCCESS!  It’s a great addition.

Then the show started.  Austin’s own Ume opened and it wasn’t my thing at all.  I’d seen them before a while back.

Cheap Trick comes on and just does their thing.  They are a well oiled machine that has fun on stage.  Their setlist is different every night and that’s great.  It keeps things a little loose on tour.  They played their hits mixed with other stuff for the hardcore fans as well as a new song from their upcoming album.   The Flame always takes me right back to the 80s.  Tonight one of the Dixie Chicks did a duet with Robin on it.  They’re always a treat and I look forward to the next time I can see them!