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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisMost die-hard Rush fans see the beloved Canadian band every trip through town, so it should be noted right off the bat that the second leg of the Time Machine Tour is pretty much the same as last year's inaugural round. The most notable difference with the Chicago area shows was a move indoors to a packed United Center, following a two night stand outdoors at Charter One Pavilion.
If anything, the already tight trio comprised of front man/bassist/keyboard player Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart sounds even more confident with the set list. For those needing a refresher, that's basically a mixture of hits, a complete rendering of the now classic Moving Pictures album and even a pair of two new tunes from the forthcoming Clockwork Angels.
The Moving Pictures performance was certainly a selling point for the show, if only because most of the songs haven't been played since the original outing in 1981. While "Tom Sawyer," "Red Barchetta" and "Limelight" aren't all that uncommon to hear, the true treats came in deeper cuts that helped make the album an early '80s masterpiece best digested in a single setting rather than individual singles.
"Witch Hunt" was loaded with ominous bass lines as it unfolded a tale of master manipulators, while "Vital Signs" surged with crunching percussion and Lee's still sky high vocal register. Add in the extended epics "YYZ" and "The Camera Eye," and it demonstrated how the collection struck a celebrated equilibrium between progressive experimentation, radio penetration and obligatory jam sessions.
Besides the main course, there were plenty of other classics to digest over the two and a half hour evening that aptly encapsulated the tour's theme. "The Spirit of the Radio" served as an explosive opener, "Time Stand Still" recalled the group's more melodic side, while more recent tunes "Workin' Them Angels" and "BU2B" provided heavier progressive leanings sped up to present tense.
Additional contrast came courtesy of "Subdivisions," one of the more cerebral arrangements from the MTV era, and "2112 Overture / The Temples of Syrinx," the first two portions of a seven part suite that helped define Rush as one the '70s most innovative acts. Four decades down the line, those sentiments still stand, as evidenced by multiple generations who turned up to catch this well-rounded trip through time.
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