REVIEW: Rush, Motorpoint Arena

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THESE three Canadians have often been dismissed by casual observers and detractors as humourless prog-rockers.

One thing their Time Machine tour does is overcome that notion, not least with witty, if slightly superfluous, footage featuring themselves as various characters before the two sets.

Clearly there’s been a measure of stock-taking ahead of Rush playing European breakthrough album Moving Pictures in its entirety 30 years after release as part of a three-hour live feast.

“We get carried away sometimes,” admitted inimitable singer Geddy Lee after a hefty bass work-out and pre-empting the interval by claiming they needed one “because we’re getting old”.

With 20th album Clockwork Angels pending but potently teed up by the likes of Caravan and BU2B, this was the tail end of a tour that sees Geddy, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart leaping around the years of an irrepressible career that has often displayed stylistic fearlessness in an increasingly commercial world.

From opener The Spirit Of Radio to closing début album track Working Man, the trio flexed their musical muscles across a generation of music as much about prowess on celebrated instrumental YYZ and the intricate 2112 Overture/Temples Of The Syrinx, as hooky tunes such as Freewill and Limelight to crowd stirrers Closer To The Heart and Tom Sawyer.

Rush have always courted formidable loyalty and while numbers were down on this third visit to Sheffield’s arena reaction was anything but muted for a band who have always created sound greater than the sum of their parts - and show little sign of slowing.