Today’s Tom Sawyer

In a few hours, I will be in the Scottrade Center getting ready to watch Rush. This will be something like 24-25 times for me. More than many, but nowhere close to a few.

This may be their last tour, and while I am saddened to hear this, I completely understand. Every single Rush concert I have seen has been tremendous. I’m not simply saying this because of my pro-Rush bias, but also because I’ve seen a goodly number of concerts now. Others may have a few songs that are better for live shows, but no one ever consistently puts out such a powerful show top to bottom.

They give us everything they got, both on the night of the show and in preparation. It’s no surprise that at their age, they just can’t give out that energy over a tour like they could when we were all much younger.

Part of the reason is that, unlike many rock stars, Geddy, Alex, and Neil have never taken themselves too seriously. They have taken their skill and their art extremely seriously, but not themselves.

They’ve also played their own music, and was glad when a bunch of us liked it. However, they’ve never made music for us, rather, they made music that they liked and which challenged their skill. That’s why there’s no one really like Rush. Oh, Dream Theater has its Rush-like moments. Triumph was seen as Rush-lite at one point. Metallica and others have acknowledged their debt to Rush. But, no one else ever captured that same independence, intelligence, and brilliance.

I’ve grown up to Rush. When I struggled in high school, Subdivisions and Tom Sawyer helped me make it through. I listened to Countdown after the Challenger exploded. I read Coleridge and Rand and a bunch of others because of Rush. I’ve never been “normal,” and I knew they weren’t either. They helped me realize normal is a chimera, a mythical beast that can only bring bad things whether or not you track it down.

I’ll never forget hearing One Little Victory live for the first time. This was the tour that many of us, including Rush themselves, wondered if it would ever happen. Neil had lost his daughter and then his wife in a six-month period, and music just wasn’t important to him. But then Vapor Trails came out, and One Little Victory spoke directly to overcoming that loss. I am weeping as I am writing my memory of Rush pouring that emotion out to us at Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto.

I plan on seeing them again in Kansas City. Tonight may be my penultimate Rush show. Ask me in July after the KC show how I feel about that.

What I feel about tonight, though, is great excitement. Time to go watch them make the donuts.

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