Five warning signs of a miserable night at a rock concert: 1--Lots of tailgate parties in the parking lot. 2--A crowd that's at least 85% male. 3--Flash pots exploding on stage. 4--Surrealistic images on a giant screen. 5--Lasers.
Rush's appearance Wednesday at the Forum was accompanied by all those danger signals, but was surprisingly impressive nonetheless.
The Canadian trio certainly has a spotted progressive-rock past, with some epic digressions on the future, libertarianism and other subjects that for some reason appeal especially to 19-year-old guys in black T-shirts. But Rush's newer music has more down-to-earth punch to go with the big ideas and high idealism.
The superb musicianship has never been in question, but it's less showy and more rock-solid these days. In songs from "Power Windows," Rush's latest and strongest LP, the band might pull out some tricky time signatures--but in the service of the song, not at the expense of it. Overall, the music is far more forceful and driving than ever before--especially when singer Geddy Lee is on bass instead of synthesizers.
That doesn't mean that recent converts should be ready to reconsider Rush's entire oeuvre , for the often ponderous older material provided a fair share of deadly stretches during the generous two-hour set.