Part IV: Sometimes in Confusion, I Feel So Lost & Disillusioned
Although Rush definitely jams, they defy nearly all conventions of the conventional “jam band”. This is especially true in their rigid consistency of their set list once chosen. In fact, in 2004 they played every single show exactly the same, despite playing over 32 songs that spanned three decades. So, like seeing a movie over again, both shows I saw of that tour were exactly the same, but I was able to pick out finer details the second time through. Hey, if it ain’t broke… But knowing this, like the kid who partially unwraps the gifts under the tree, I couldn’t help but cheat and get their set list online. This set to act as a primer on one hand, but perhaps launch some unrealistic expectations on the other. For as a mulled over the familiar and unfamiliar on the list, one song jumped out with the greatest expectation, “Circumstances”.
A gem from 1978’s Hemispheres, this is a unique and dynamic tune that equally delights the ears of the astute listen but frustrates the fingers of the budding musician. With its classic, French to English refrain;
“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,
the more that things change, the more they stays the same”
The perception of this song live – not played in front of an audience in more than two decades – was astounding, but the reality of it tonight was disappointing.
Performed in a lower key register, but yet with drop-off vocals, the song at times sounded like an LP being slowed by a child’s finger (for those of us that remember such things). And although the mid section, with the dual lead from Peart’s xylophone and Lee’s synthesizer, that leads into a classic riff descension by Lifeson was still a great delight, “Circumstances” as a whole was a disappointment from a source that rarely disappoints.
The band finished their first set with 1984’s “Between the Wheels” and 1991’s “Dreamline” and the show seemed to lose momentum that was built during the excellent middle of the set. Although both decent tunes and holdovers from the 30th anniversary tour, they felt like filler material when compared against some of the songs that could have been here (“Red Barchetta”, “Fly by Night”, “2112”, “The Pass”, – I can go on and on). While the former felt like a nice vintage pick in 2004, it revealed itself tonight as a mediocre song from a mediocre period of the band, especially accented with Lifeson’s out-of-tune axe. The latter brought out the green lasers and nostalgia for that first concert in ’92 but that could have been fulfilled nicer by a number of songs such as “Red Sector A” or “Force Ten”. But perhaps this was prophetic with the lyric “we’re only immortal for a limited time” during the song and Lee’s announcement “we’re old, we need a break, we’ll be right back” after.