Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Song of the Day: "Dreamline" (Rush, Auburn Hills MI 3-22-94)

First song off the Counterparts Tour bootleg video.

Tonight (Jan. 22, 1994) is the 20th anniversary of Rush opening that tour here in Pensacola.

I was seated directly opposite the stage, up in the bleachers at the Pensacola Civic Center. Gotta say, Rush or not, I really wish the sound quality of that concert had been as good as this video:

The Civic Center (now renamed as Pensacola Center...hahahaha) is a big concrete boondoggle, a horrible waste of taxpayer money, an acoustic disaster, and it deserves to be knocked over, set on fire, have the ashes sown with salt, and then have the developers and their political toadies forced to clean up the rubble with toothbrushes, plastic spoons, and those cone-shaped drinking cups that won't stand on their own.

In summary, the Civic Center sucks. There's a sound-sucking echo that makes even a hockey game announcer sound like he's using a bullhorn in a tunnel.

I knew the sound would be bad, since two years before I attended the Feb. 25 opening night of the band's "Roll The Bones" tour. That one left me deaf for most of the next day. This time, I brought earplugs. Man-o-man did I ever need them.

The "Counterparts" opening act was Candlebox, supporting their self-titled debut disc. I couldn't hear the guitars or vocals well; anything in the midrange was muddy or inaudible. But the highs and bass were incredibly loud, almost painful even with earplugs. No complaints about the band. I liked what I could hear of them, but I hadn't heard anything they played other than "You," which was getting good airplay on local radio:

I probably fidgeted through the opening act and through the intermission. Finally: the intro!

On earlier tours, they opened with the "Three Stooges" theme. This time, we saw a gigantic bolt spinning slowly in space, finally docking with its counterpart (get it? Counterparts Tour!), accompanied by "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" ("2001: A Space Odyssey"). This led into 'Dreamline,' the first track on the "Counterparts" album.

From that point--shitty sound or not--I was riveted.

The set list (via Wikipedia):
Intro ('Thus Spoke Zarathustra'; first time used as intro)
'The Spirit of Radio'
'The Analog Kid'
'Cold Fire' (from Counterparts)
'Time Stand Still'
'Nobody's Hero' (from Counterparts)
'Roll the Bones'
'Animate' (from Counterparts)
'Stick It Out' (from Counterparts)
'Double Agent' (from Counterparts)
'Mystic Rhythms'
'Closer to the Heart'
'Show Don't Tell'
'Leave That Thing Alone!' (from Counterparts)
'The Rhythm Method' (drum solo)
'The Trees'
'Xanadu' (abbreviated)
'Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres' (Prelude)
'Tom Sawyer'
'Force Ten'
'Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage' (teaser)
There were plenty of Rush Geek moments to be had. Lifeson brought out his classic double-neck Gibson EDS-1275 to play 'Xanadu.'

The twin 20-foot high rabbits introduced for the "Presto" tour made a comeback during 'Show Don't Tell.' The stage-left rabbit now sported a gangster hat and sawed-off shotgun. As the song ended, there was threatening music...a shot rang out! An animated bullet flashed across the screens behind the stage, searching for its target for several seconds. Then, with a flash and the sound of a deflating balloon, the other rabbit fell. Up on the screen, his spirit was comforted by a pair of scantily-clad angel bunnies...and the band played 'Leave That Thing Alone!' Has nothing to do with bunnies, just the band having some fun.

Neil Peart's seven and a half minute drum solo followed. This is the one time in the entire set when the sound didn't suck: I could hear and feel every seismic *THUMP* of the drums in my chest and seat. There were a pair of massive speaker towers hanging almost directly above my seat, so I got it from above as well.

I freaking loved it.

Neil's drum solos are legendary, a staple of every concert. If he hasn't used a part of his kit in the show so far, this is where he makes up for it by beating on everything.

I. Freaking. Loved. It.

Neil's kit spans 360 degrees around him. One 180 degree section is mostly digital; the other is acoustic, but also has some digital triggers. There's also a forest of cymbals.

The solo started on the digital side. As if seeing him playing wasn't cool enough, roughly halfway into the solo he paused after hitting an enormous *THUMP THUMP!*...and his drum kit spun 180 degrees so that the acoustic half was facing the audience. Neil turned the other way on his seat and went right back to the solo.

I spent a lot of time watching Alex Lifeson's playing to see whether I was playing the same way. It might have helped if I'd taken notes (yes, I had a notebook), but I was too busy just soaking in the experience. This was only the second rock concert I'd ever been to--and the second Rush concert. I could hear better, thanks to those earplugs, and by now I knew every song. The only way the evening could have been better (aside from backstage access and that double-neck guitar of Lifeson's) was if the sound hadn't sucked.

Oh, and the ticket price? $21.00. Compare that to $60 or so for a seat in either Tampa or Orlando last year for the "Clockwork Angels" tour.

Once it was all over, I sat and watched the road crew breaking everything down for awhile before leaving to save myself the crowds in the parking lot.
On the way home, I got to hear the concert all over again as WTKX played the studio versions of every song on the concert playlist.

I got lucky a few years after this show. I found a pair of VHS bootlegs of the March 22 Auburn Hills gig. Bought both for $40 a pop. One went to my nephew, who's also a Rush fan. I copied mine to DVD years ago, just before my VCR started eating tapes instead of playing them.

No comments:

Post a Comment