TERMINALLY unhip Canadian power trio Rush were embarking on out-there, multi-part progressive electro rock odysseys before the members of Muse were even born and can still hold their own live, albeit with quainter stagecraft.
This Clockwork Angels tour has a steampunk theme with Neil Peart’s gargantuan gleaming rotating drumkit as the engine room, plus a seven-piece string ensemble, some humorous animation, a groovy gorilla, a popcorn machine and, of course, a number of instrumental solos studied with forensic interest by the fans. Chins were actually stroked.
The first half heavily favoured material from their 1985 album Power Windows, yielding the dystopian post-punk of Territories. But this felt like mere preamble next to the high-concept presentation of their current Clockwork Angels album which led off the second half and really could give Muse a run for their money.
No excess had been spared – the music was epic, the string players, feeding off the energy of the band, rocked out with the muscularity you would expect from taiko drummers, and Geddy Lee unleashed some of his most operatic vocals as superfluous fireworks exploded and the whole grand folly culminated in an overwrought eco ballad, The Garden.
Rush were far from spent, though. The prog ceilidh of YYZ, now with added urgent strings, dovetailed into their eccentric hit The Spirit Of Radio and there was still enough gas in the tank for one final apocalyptic surge.