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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisThe idea of resurrecting a classic album from yesteryear and staging a new show packed with current production is nothing new. Just ask Roger Waters or Bruce Sprinsteen, who've sold out a year's worth of dates performing opuses like Pink Floyd's The Wall or The Boss' Born To Run. Classic rockers Rush are the latest to join that fold, turning in 1981's Moving Pictures in its entirety for the first time ever, which wasn't just its most popular project amassing a boatloads of singles and sales in excess of four million, but one of its most magnetic masterpieces as well.
As a result, the Canadian trio consisting of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart had no trouble selling out two nights of the Chicago lakefront's famed outdoor amphitheatre Charter One Pavilion. Before the main event of Moving Pictures was presented during the first round, the group turned in an initial set of commercial and artistic career crests outside that particular album, including radio dominators like "The Spirit Of Radio," "Freewill" and "Subdivisions," plus rarely performed cuts like "Presto" and "Leave That Thing Alone."
After a brief intermission, the stadium rock favorites returned to the stage to turn back time, kicking off the recollection with "Tom Sawyer," followed by first side staples like "Red Barchetta," "YYZ" and "Limelight." Though the piece as a whole certainly hearkens back to the early '80s, Rush's improvisational approach to the material and powerhouse arrangements helped evoke a more timeless tone that the original production didn't survive. The most ample evidence came during "Vital Signs," which charged even harder than the first round, though Geddy Lee's helium-high vocals still hit all the impressively high notes. Add in the extended epic "The Camera Eye" highlighting Lifeson's nimble fretwork and Peart's militant percussion, and it was apparent why Moving Pictures as a body could concurrently please casual fans and die-hard purists alike.
Though the audience pretty much knew what to expect upon the twirl of their turn styles, there were a handful of surprises, most notably the new tracks "BU2B" and "Carnival," which fell in line with the darker progressive rock tones from 2007's Snakes & Arrows CD. The tracks are slated to appear on the band's 20th studio album, which reunites Rush with the last album's producer Nick Raskulinecz, and articulated the group's commitment to recording with its vitality in tact.
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