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It ain't easy, bein' cheesy.
Rush is celebrating 30 years together with a summer tour, and the release today of "Feedback", a collection of cover songs that inspired them to get into music when they were young.


Music Review: Rock-steady Rush shows why it has lasted for 30 years

By John Young
"Why are we here? Because we're here. ... Why does it happen? Because it happens," goes the refrain of "Roll the Bones," Rush's ode to responsible risk taking. The song was one of 30 that the Canadian power trio played Monday night at the Post-Gazette Pavilion, a show on the first leg of the band's 30th anniversary tour.
Rush has been a part of the classic rock landscape for so long now that it's tempting to get by critically on the Zen-like sentiments of "Roll the Bones."
Why is Rush still here? Hits such as "Spirit of Radio," "Tom Sawyer" and "Dreamline" that fans want to hear live. Why does the group still record and tour? Because singer/bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart still have things to say lyrically and musically.
But, of course, there's more to it than that. Rush has succeeded despite flying in the face of the dictates of commercial music: Lee's voice is unusual, the band sometimes writes album-long suites, the music is heady, the lyrics have literary pretentions. Yet fans celebrate such eccentricities rather than overlook them. How else to explain them roaring for an opening medley of instrumental pieces, the lengthy "Xanadu" and an abbreviated take on the album "2112"?
Late in the second of the band's two sets, Lee noted that one of the most difficult tasks of touring at this point is selecting which songs to play. Some might have quibbled with the absence of hits like "Freewill," "Closer to the Heart," "The Big Money" and "Time Stand Still." But diehard supporters of the group seemed just as taken with unusual choices like "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" displacing the title song from "Fly By Night." The inclusion of three tracks, the epic pop tune "Earthshine" and the thornier "One Little Victory" and "Secret Touch" from the recent disc "Vapor Trails," met with equal approval.
Perhaps most surprising, and refreshing, were the cuts from Rush's forthcoming covers EP "Feedback," due out June 29. Lee noted that the band wanted to record some of the songs that inspired members to first pick up their instruments, and the choices made a statement about the group's roots in red-blooded '60s rock. They played the Who's "The Seeker" with gleeful abandon, sped through Cream's arrangement of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" and turned "Heart Full of Soul" into an acoustic sing-along.
Because the lyrics occasionally turn heavy, Rush is too often portrayed as overserious. The band's Pavilion show put such misperceptions to rest. The concert opened with a great bit on the video screen at the back of the stage wherein Jerry Stiller has a dream involving the group's cover art, then awakens to call the guys to the stage. A later video featured Rush bobbleheads battling a dragon attempting to burn down a kiosk featuring band merchandise.
Lifeson livened up the instrumental "La Villa Strangiato" with a spoken-word rant about bad bosses and good booze that left his bandmates laughing. Lee gave a nod to the locals by donning a vintage T-shirt hyping the "1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates." And Peart, while he just had to bow to tradition with a drum solo, managed to play one full of as much melody and humor as chops.
Rush may still be around simply because, well, it's still around. But the band's 30th anniversary show re-emphasized what a multifaceted, surprising and, yes, fun group this can be.