Rush on stage, with strings at­tached

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Brian Mccol­lum

DETROIT — The Mid­west has been mighty good to Rush. The trio’s four-decade rock ride got its U.S. start in the heart­land, which em­braced the Toronto band with gusto be­fore the rest of the coun­try caught on.

Alex Life­son, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart have em­barked on a Rush tour that will stretch into sum­mer 2013.

Gui­tarist Life­son re­mem­bers the band’s first U.S. foray — an hon­our claimed by Michi­gan.

“We ac­tu­ally snuck in and played a fes­ti­val in Lans­ing, spring of ’74, be­fore our first ma­jor tour that Au­gust,” he says. “There’s al­ways been a great affin­ity be­tween us and the fans there. The Mid­west is such a strong rock area, be­tween places like Detroit and Cleve­land. I think that’s the heart of the rock ’n’ roll world, so it’s al­ways a treat for us.”

The tour sup­ports Clock­work An­gels, the band’s 19th stu­dio record and a nod to Rush’s con­cept-al­bum days. Re­leased in June, it got a strong thumbs-up from fans and a round of at­ten­tion from main­line me­dia out­lets — part of the be­lated re­spect that has graced the group in re­cent years.

Life­son spoke with the Detroit Free Press:

Q: You’ve got a string ensem­ble tour­ing with you this year. That’s cer­tainly a first for Rush.

A: I don’t think we ever had any­one up on stage with us. This is dif­fer­ent — eight-piece, re­ally great peo­ple. They’ve be­come part of the whole team, so to speak, right from the start, so we’re quite thrilled. They’re great play­ers, and they re­ally warmed up to the ma­te­rial and are play­ing with pas­sion.

I’m sur­prised by the influence it’s had on some of these other (nonClock­work An­gels) songs. David Camp­bell, who did the ar­range­ments — there was a bit of con­fu­sion in the be­gin­ning, and he ended up scor­ing ar­range­ments for all the songs. We threw a cou­ple of curves at him. It’s so very dif­fer­ent from what we’ve nor­mally done. There are 14 songs al­to­gether (re­hearsed with strings), and we’re play­ing 11 or 12 each night.

I think there may have been a con­cern by some peo­ple that it would soften the ma­te­rial by adding strings,

DAVID KAWAI / OT­TAWA CI­TI­ZEN ARCHIVES

Life­son (right) with band­mates Geddy Lee (left) and Neil Peart bring their Clock­work An­gels tour to the MTS Cen­tre tonight.

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