Thursday, September 13, 2007

All the world's a stage, but what's with the chickens?

“Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.” The more that things change, the more they stay the same, sang Geddy Lee in the 1978 tune Circumstances. In April, 1980 I saw Rush at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago. Dry ice, lasers, bursts of flame and a bombastic trio of Canadian rockers. Last Saturday night, I did almost exactly the same thing, only at an outdoor venue and with my 12-year old son. It was a little surreal, hanging out before the show, me with a beer, my son with a large Mountain Dew, checking out the Loop rock girls and the general goings on. Souvenirs have gone from $10 cheap black T-shirts with 2 pounds of glitter (remember those?) to $75 tour jerseys. There were quite a few young kids with their parents; otherwise, not much has changed. It’s the long lines, wafting smoke, the pre-show anticipation, and the collective roar when the lights go down, and it still thrills me today. I thought back to my first big rock show (Boston, at the Chicago Stadium, 1977) and hoped my son felt the same way. I realize that the window for us to share rock concerts will quickly close because it’s not cool to be seen at a show with your old man, but until he can drive, there might be a few more in our future.

As for the band, they were incredible. They played for nearly three hours with only a short break, jamming ferociously, with tight musicianship. It’s great to watch a band that still really enjoys what they do. They would hunker down in front of Peart’s drum kit and smile to one another as they worked out their complex tunes. After 33 years, you can immediately see that it’s still fun for them, and that’s what matters.

And what about those chickens? Rush has always had humorous side, able to poke a little fun at themselves in the midst of the philosophical lyrics and prog-rock bombast. On one side of the stage behind Alex Lifeson were the obligatory Marshall stack amplifiers. Behind Geddy Lee were three ovens of the same height as the amps, containing rotisserie chickens. Occasionally, a chef would come out and tend to the chickens during the music. Why? Why not? We were also treated to little video snippets during set, including the South Park dudes trying to play Tom Sawyer, and an over-the-top drum solo with a rotating drum set and a ridiculous number of percussion instruments (actually, this was serious, and Neil Peart is amazing). All in all, a splendid time was had by all, and for $17.00, less then I’ve paid for parking at some other recent shows.

Here’s a blast from the past – Bastille Day, from the classic double live album All the World’s A Stage, 1976. Rock on!

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Blogger Christopher David Hanaka said...

I've started reading your blog pretty regularly and quite like it. You should check out using to post songs on your blog, it's like Hipcast but free, might save you a few bucks.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Thanks for reading, and the tip. Hipcast costs me $4.95 per month for this labor of love. I'll check out Utterz.

10:43 PM  

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