Rush's Snakes & Arrows World Tour rolled in to Ottawa last Friday in front of 10,200 fans at ScotiaBank Place. Rush is arguably Canada's most accomplished band, with a huge international following and award-winning career spanning over 30 years.
"We've got a gazillion songs to play for you, if that's ok," said singer/bassist Geddy Lee. With no opening act, fans got what they came to see starting at 7:45pm as guitarist Alex Lifeson played the familiar opening riff to Limelight, one of their early '80s classics.
Families and fans young and old came to see the power trio best known for their driving rhythms, soaring melodies and complex compositions. Rush never deliberately catered to what the radio stations wanted but instead developed a loyal following as a touring band with a great live show.
Jennifer Eggens, an engineer originally from Guelph, Ontario, who has been a Rush fan for 20 years, came to Ottawa to see the show after seeing the Montreal performance. "Rush has matured over the years. He [Geddy Lee] can still hit the high notes. He gives it a good wail every once in a while. I think they still got it."
Rush's performance was excellent. The band members have always displayed excellent musicianship and this concert was no different.
Neil Peart, 55, is consistently regarded as one of the best drummers in rock. His elaborate drum solo brought the crowd to its feet as he displayed his incredible technique and speed. Peart is also the main lyricist for the band.
And of course, Rush had an elaborate set complete with three rotisserie chicken ovens in addition to three giant screens showing pictures, movie clips and computer-generated designs. Even a cook occasionally came on stage to check on the roasting chickens.
With dozens of classics to their name, Rush balanced the new and the old effectively, playing several songs off Snakes & Arrows, including Far Cry with its awesome special effects. Geddy Lee jokingly referred to the new album as "Snakes & Ladders… or whatever it's called."
But Rush didn't disappoint the older generation of fans, playing the classics Spirit of Radio, Tom Sawyer, and Freewill. Rush also took us way back to the '70s with A Passage to Bangkok (played as one of three songs in their encore) and Circumstances. Two of my favorite Rush songs were played back to back when Natural Science followed Subdivisions.
The instrumental favorite YYZ ended the show and really showcased the band's incredible talent as each member got his chance to do his own thing.
After the Ottawa show, the Snakes & Arrow World Tour left for Toronto, which was where Rush was originally formed in 1968. In October, the band heads off to Scotland as the European leg of the tour begins.