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Pop Music Review

Always Reliable Rush Unseals the Time Capsule

September 25, 2002|MARC WEINGARTEN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Some might argue that change is the sine qua non of musical artistry, but Rush fans might contend that predictable output yields greater rewards.

For nearly 30 years, the Canadian trio has delivered reliable musical product to its fans, a silent minority that can still pack large arenas, as evidenced by Monday's near-sellout at Staples Center.

What's Rush's secret? Convincing heavy-metal fans that they can still rock out and feel virtuous about it.

The band's sound was always a pastiche--Led Zeppelin's tuneful wallop, Yes' odd time signatures and sci-fi narratives--but Rush has now claimed the territory all to itself. Rush fans cherish the band because it has not wavered from that original mandate.

The performance at Staples was cryogenically sealed and expertly executed, a triumph of technical mastery like computer graphics or cinematic special effects. Guitarist Alex Lifeson pounded metal chordage and picked speedy solos, drummer Neil Peart (arguably the star of this band) reeled off tricky tom fills and depth-charge bass-drum patterns, and bassist Geddy Lee sang in his soprano yelp while roaming all over his fingerboard.

Old songs such as "Tom Sawyer" and "2112" got the biggest receptions, but the crowd endured new material as if doing penance for the hits. An outsider might have chafed at the redundancy and sheer silliness of it all, but Rush is a band that exists for initiates.

Innovation is for other people.

*

Rush plays Saturday at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, 7:30 p.m. $31.75 to $91.75. (949) 855-8096.

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