“Turn Up Light and Sound”

I saw the band Rush on Friday, October 12th.  Rush is a band I’ve loved since 1989, and they’ve been a musical and lyrical inspiration since then.  In fact, I credit them with expanding my own lyrical skill in the first place.    MusicallyRush has always been a creator of challenging and interesting material, and have influenced and inspired uncountable amounts of musicians over their 38-year recording career.  Geddy Lee is still my all-time favorite bass player, Neil Peart is one of the most widely recognized monarchs of the drum kit as well as of lyrics, and Alex Lifeson is an unbelievable guitar player, capable of very emotional and technical solos, and able to play an incredible array of styles.

A picture on my wall of Geddy Lee. It was taken by the band’s late longtime photographer, Andrew MacNaughtan.

I only saw them once, in 1990 or ’91, and  I sat way up in the 3rd level.  As a result, I didn’t feel like I was even there.  I was also very young, had the attention span of a gnat, and wasn’t mentally able to take it all in.  I wanted to see them last year, on their  tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their signature album, Moving Pictures.  Veterinary bills kept me from being able to attend, and there was no way I was missing this one in support of their newest album.  It was absolutely amazing.

Detractors of the band have consistently pinpointed one reason for not liking Rush, and that’s Geddy’s voice. He’s known for singing in a very high register, and it was especially stratospheric in the earlier part of their career.  His voice can’t quite do the highs as much anymore, and it’s reflected on the last 2 albums in the lower range he chooses.  I’m curious as to how much that effects their decision when choosing which songs to perform.  One thing to consider when analyzing his performance is that he sings while playing some incredibly complex bass lines, as well as the synthesizer parts.  He’s practically a band unto himself.

The show definitely focused on the latter-half of their career, with the exception of classics that would be murderous of them not to include, such as their hugest commercial success, Tom Sawyer.  And Geddy’s voice held up better than I expected.

Rush, as a group, have a very jovial way about them, and this always translates onto their tours, despite the seriousness of their album content.  They always do slapstick films on the rear projection screen, have roadies run on stage in bizarre outfits, and have done things over the last few tours such as having washing machines on stage out of which roadies take t-shirts to throw into the audience and having a chicken rotisserie which roadies come out to baste while wearing chef’s hats and aprons.

While I was intent on taking the show in and not missing anything (who knows how many more tours there’ll be), some of the glow still disperses as daily life overtakes the memories.  Thanks to the magic of youtube, however, there’s an entire catalogue of performances recorded on cell phones (with surprising quality), including the show I saw in Philadelphia.  Getting to rekindle the magic is priceless.

As for the album they’re supporting on this tour:  Rush, in the past, has done numerous long songs (entire sides of albums, sometimes) with a story being told via the lyrics.  The latest offering, Clockwork Angels, is a full concept album, and it’s also surprisingly heavy musically.  One treat that they did this time was work with author Kevin J. Anderson to produce the story as a novel as well.  The novel helps to make more sense of the album since Anderson had 300 pages to work with as opposed to 12 songs.

In the book, Anderson (who has been friends with Peart for many years) drops lines from Rush songs and other references that long-time fans will understand throughout the text.  Inspired by this, as well as the experience of the concert, I wrote a poem which uses song titles in the same way.  I also chose a really obscure rhyme scheme.  Instead of using couplets or rhyming every other line , I waited 3 lines after the initial one to rhyme.  I did this to honor the 3 members of the band.

Turn Up Light and Sound (What a Rush) 10/14/12

A 22-year devotion,

To see these 3 on lighted stage

The aural assault, the lighting’s dance–

An evening charged with emotion!

And as these stars advance in age,

There may not be another chance,

So I ponied up what entry cost.

It didn’t matter, to make this night;

I’d work out paying bills somehow.

I couldn’t bear this opportunity lost,

To miss them in latest limelight

Circumstances I couldn’t allow.

Stage hands scrambled all about;

I sensed the countdown impending.

They made their final preparations

Before the band could come out

To amaze all who were attending,

And feeding all our anticipations.

Like a body electric, the stage came alight;

We watched the big screen animate.

You bet your life I had to be there,

Hear those mystic rhythms that night,

An evening to leave our mortal state

And revel in a show beyond compare.

And hours later, to have been exposed

To a musicianship, a stagecraft

Lovingly honed for 4+ decades,

To some of the greatest rock composed,

A spectacle upon which we can graft,

And a euphoria that meets the accolades.

Nothing lacked in their chemistry,

Other bands seen a far cry from this.

I wished for a time stand still, to perceive,

Savor, prolong the sweet miracle before me,

For vapor trails become of this bliss.

I pray the afterimage will never leave.

 

© 2012 Jordan Alan Fox

Rush – YYZ Live 10/1212 Philadelphia PA Wells Fargo Complete Killer Multicam HD Show 2012www.youtube.comAwesome show. as always with this amazing band.this is one camera angle out of 4 that will be an amazing mix. if intrested inthe complete show email me at ba…

“The Anarchist” Rush@Wells Fargo Center Philadelphia 10/12/12 Clockwork Angels Tourwww.youtube.comThe Anarchist, Rush, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA; October 12th, 2012; Clockwork Angels Tour

Rush – Tom Sawyer – Philadelphia 10/12/12www.youtube.comWells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA, October 12, 2012. Entire show filmed (stage shot), partial show (screen).

RUSH – “Headlong Flight” – Official Lyric Videowww.youtube.comThe official lyric video for “Headlong Flight” – the first single from the new album Clockwork Angels – available everywhere June 12th. Pre-order here: http:…

RUSH – “The Wreckers” Official Lyric Videowww.youtube.comThe official lyric video for “The Wreckers” – the new single from the album Clockwork Angels

Subdivisions – Rushwww.youtube.com”Subdivisions” is a Rush song often considered to be describing feelings of isolation, boredom, conformity, and sadness springing up from teenage life in the…

clockwork-angels-hardcover-book.html

Clockwork Angels

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Why michael vick Proves There Is No God or Karma

Alrighty, how’s that for a title?  Provocative, I know.  But it’s how I feel.  I couldn’t think any lower of vick for his past.  In fact, you’ll notice I’ve taken a friend’s suggestion and disrespecting him by never capitalizing his name.

Yet with Sunday’s win over the New York Giants, and his team’s 3-1 start to the season, the fervor for this monster grows.  To have been reinstated into the NFL in the first place after electrocuting, beating, drowning and hanging innocent lives while also forcing them to fight to the death is unbelievable enough.  But how easily the Phickle Phans of Philthadelphia have been won over by his self-proclaimed “redemption” is simply maddening.  I have admittedly never been a person given to the ways of faith. But I’ve always wanted to be, believe it or not.  What little chance I could have had to move beyond the need for things to be scientifically tangible and incontrovertible, to believe in something greater, has been eradicated by the lack of Godly wraith or bad Karma to come vick’s way.

Sure, he spent 19 months in a minimum security prison for illegal gambling.  But he served ZERO jail time for animal cruelty and abuse.  The prosecutor in Virginia (from where vick hails and also where his dogfighting operation was) didn’t want to be the bad guy for going after the local sports hero.  If he had his way, vick would have served no jail time or at least less than the sentence given.  So the arguments I always hear of “he did his time” are extremely inaccurate.

Then Roger Goodell, the football league’s commissioner, could have set the standard by not allowing vick to return to the NFL.  Goodell entered his position as a man on a mission.  He fined and suspended people left and right, wanting to set the example of “zero tolerance” on behavior detrimental to the image of the league.  Yet, given the chance to ban vick forever and setting the bar where he claimed he wanted it, Goodell allowed vick’s return.

Now, I will admit some bias here, but my favorite team’s quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, has had his own legal issues:  he was twice accused of sexual assault.  He was never found guilty on either charge.  I know it’s possible that he simply paid off the accusers as most believe.  But I also know that athletes and celebrities are targets for those seeking a payday.  I honestly don’t believe basketball’s Kobe Bryant raped the girl that accused him of such  in Colorado.  He did sleep with her, yes.  And he gave a woman the best paycheck of her life as a result.  So there is a 50% chance that Roethlisberger is innocent just as there’s a 50% chance he committed the crime.  But the only thing of which I KNOW he is guilty is being stupid enough to put himself in that position to be accused, especially after the first accusation.  I hope he didn’t do it, but I’ll never know one way or the other.  vick, on the other hand, is unquestionably guilty.

I bring this up because, after the second accusation, Goodell suspended Roethlisberger 4 games for being such an awful role model and potentially tarnishing the league’s image.  That same summer, vicky-boy threw a birthday party in which someone was shot.  vick didn’t do it, but the person who did was one of the crew with whom he hung out during his dogfighting days.  Goodell did nothing, though vick, already a controversial person, had shown an equally poor example of off-the-field decision making.  There is the possibility that Goodell didn’t want to look bad for having to punish the dirtbag he just pardoned.

Additionally, upon vick’s reinstatement and subsequent signing to the philadelphia eagles, his jersey was one of the top 2 in sales.  The fans didn’t care what he did.  His jersey to this day is still anywhere in the top 20 in sales.  I believe there are a great amount of his fans that love the fact that such a thug made good and went back to earn millions.  I will be fair here and mention that he doesn’t get to keep all of that money.  He has many debts to pay as part of his sentence.  He has even become richer, however, by many companies signing endorsement deals with him.  These include Nike, Musclepharm, and Subway.  He even has his own clothing line.  I and others I know have boycotted these companies, and have informed those companies as to why.

But here he is, making more than I ever will short of a lottery win, being adored by the masses (and not just in Killadelphia), and unfortunately succeeding on the field to such an extent that his inhumane and simply INHUMAN crimes are a distant memory to most.

So, if there is the God of which Judeo-Christian faith speaks, and/or there is a celestial force weighing Karma, why is this the case?  I don’t want to hear that the guilty are punished in the next life.  Why is he being so rewarded in this one?  And I’ll make the same argument for Roethlisberger if he is, in fact, guilty of sexual assault.  Why is he, too, rewarded if so?  

And why does all of this matter to me so much?  I often wonder if I’m wrong for fighting so hard against injustice, and for taking injustice so personally.  I’d definitely be a much happier person if I could let it go.  Should I just be one of the many uncaring citizens of the Philadelphia area, and only worry about the entertainment value of the game, and forget about the rest?  Should I just let sleeping dogs lie, and let dead dogs die?

As I said, I believe some buy into the sick following of vick BECAUSE of his past.  Dogfighting in this area has actually gone up 300% since his arrival.  Maybe they figure they’ll get off with 19 months, too, should they be caught.  Some truly believe that he is a transformed man, and that there is sincerity in his monotoned PSAs and court- and agent-ordered charity donations.  And many, like a girl with whom I work, simply can’t be bothered with thinking about him as more than a win or a loss for her team.  I tried explaining to her that I no longer support the eagles because they signed vick, and that I will never forgive him for his disgusting past.  She said, “I don’t know anything about that”, and walked away before she could be educated about “that”.  She knew, but didn’t want to deal with it.  It was literally an inconvenient truth.  I feel that this is the category in which most fans reside.

I find myself thinking that perhaps I should also ignore all of the truths and just deal with wins and losses and championship titles.  But then I think about a dog being tortured in the most agonizing ways.  I think of a man who admitted the pleasure he got watching them tear each other to pieces, and feeling the lives leave their bodies as he did away with those who lost fights or showed no aggression.

I also think more and more of just never watching a sport I love ever again, because it hurts my soul to watch injustices of the most heinous nature be rewarded in every possible way.