IF YOU GO:
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, One Center Court, Cleveland
Tickets: $46.50 to $93.50; call 888-894-9424 or go to theQarena.com
By John Benson
Documenting its past for the ages is what rock trio Rush — singer-bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart — has been doing plenty of over the past year. Not only did its documentary “Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage” become a hit last year selling more than a million copies, but the Canadian band is planning on filming its Friday “Time Machine Tour” Cleveland date at Quicken Loans Arena, in which the band will play its 1981 platinum effort “Moving Pictures” in its entirety, for a full-length DVD release.
The Vindicator talked to Lifeson about the band’s history in Northeast Ohio, its revisiting of what is easily the band’s most successful CD to date and the obligatory Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction snub.
Q. What was it like the first time you watched “Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage?”
A. It was weird for us to watch it. We’re the subjects, and we had no editing rights or anything like that. So you’re looking at 40 years or more of your life, and it’s pretty bizarre. It’s almost as if you don’t recognize those guys from back then. I thought they did a really great job with it, getting across the kind of relationship that we have and the ups and downs we went through. It seems to be something that really resonated with a lot of people.
Q. Invariably the one thing always mentioned among fans after watching the documentary is the Gene Simmons quote about your lack of living the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll lifestyle.
A. You know, we toured a lot with Kiss in those early years, in 1975. We probably spent half the year touring with them, and that was an exciting time. They were a little more of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. We’ve always been more focused on the music, and I guess we always had this kind of uncool, nerdy thing about us. That was fine, we loved being observers. And we sure saw a lot of stuff.
Q. Fans are salivating at the idea of hearing “Moving Pictures” played from beginning to end. Where did the idea for the “Time Machine” tour come from?
A. Neil was at a Steely Dan show and they were playing a different album every night. That’s a bigger task for us to contemplate but he thought it was a really great idea. And if we were going to do that sort of thing, “Moving Pictures” is really the album to start with. It’s obviously our most popular record and it’s got some good songs on it that we played over the years, except for “Camera Eye.”
Q. What is it like revisiting that album 30 years later?
A. There’s a really positive feel to everything. The vibe was right. The energy was good. All of that sort of comes back to me making that record and there was something that spoke to people. For me, probably the high point of the night is playing “Camera Eye,” and that’s something I really didn’t think I would be saying. It’s a long song, made up of a lot of parts and a challenge to play. I guess because of all those reasons, I’m really enjoying it. And it comes across differently now, there’s more power and backbone to the presentation of that record than it had back then.
Q. As the documentary mentions, Cleveland and WMMS-FM 100.7 played a large role in breaking you in America. Is that the reason why you chose to film the Rock Hall City’s show?
A. We wanted to definitely do a documentary of this tour, and the fact we were playing all of “Moving Pictures” was really the important part. We wanted to do it in the States. We hadn’t done one in America yet of all the live DVDs we’ve done, and when Cleveland came up it was like a no-brainer. We said we have to do it in Cleveland. That’s where it all started.
Q. Another component to Northeast Ohio is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which next year will host its induction ceremony in Cleveland. It would be quite apropos if both Rush, and Kiss for that matter, were inducted. Speaking to your band, why has the Hall ignored Rush for all of these years?
A. Well, you know, we don’t really think about it that much. I think our fans are very slighted by our exclusion by the Hall of Fame but it’s somebody else’s thing and they can put whoever they want in there. It doesn’t really mean a lot to us at the end of the day. I’d be happy for our fans but for me personally, it doesn’t change my life in any way.
Q. Just as the documentary suggested that Rush has always been on the outside looking in, perhaps it’s fitting you aren’t in the Rock Hall.
A. Yeah, I think so too. We’re not part of that mainstream, so I think I prefer it that way, to be honest.