STEPHEN J. CAMERON / For The Lantern
For some fans like 13-year-old Conor Rave from Cincinnati, Thursday was their first time seeing Rush live. For others, like Rave’s father, Chris Rave, it was their 20th time seeing the Canadian rock band.
“I’ve been a fan since 1982,” said Chris Rave, 43, from Cincinnati. “They’re older and quite different now from when I saw them. They’re my dad’s age for crying out loud, but they put on a great show.”
Rush, which formed in 1968, performed for a crowd of mostly middle-aged adults, some accompanied by their children, Thursday at Nationwide Arena as part of its “Clockwork Angels” tour.
The band took the stage around 7:40 p.m., without an opening band, kicking the night off with songs from older albums and obvious crowd pleasers such as “Subdivisions” and “The Big Money.”
The antique-style stage was supplied with multiple time machines, ancient horns, a model of a brain and a working popcorn machine.
“Thanks for having us back,” Geddy Lee, lead vocalist, bassist and keyboardist, said a few songs into the set. “We’d like to play a gazillion songs tonight, and that’s about it.”
The band ended up playing its 25-song set for nearly three hours.
The first set included songs such as, “Force Ten,” “Grand Designs,” “The Analog Kid” and “Territories,” a drum solo from Neil Peart, during “Where’s My Thing,” and ended with “Far Cry” around 8:40 p.m. as several large fireworks and guitarist Alex Lifeson threw guitar picks into the crowd before leaving the stage for a 15-minute intermission.
Before the second set, a video appeared on the screen of an auditor, played by Canadian actor Jay Baruchel and the members of Rush as gnomes.
The second set of the show showcased a score of pyrotechnics, more fireworks, 10 moving TV screens, a string section led by David Campbell and material from the band’s newest album, “Clockwork Angels,” which released June 12.
Songs played from the 19th album included “Caravan,” “The Anarchist,” “Carnies” and “The Garden.”
It seemed a peak of the set was when the band transferred from playing new material to the classics. The energy of the crowd climaxed during “YYZ,” an instrumental piece from the 1981 album “Moving Pictures.” It seemed to inspire several fans to play air drums and air guitars the remainder of the night.
Rush ended the second set with “Working Man,” before its two-song encore of “Tom Sawyer” and “2112.”
For Mike Ferraro, 55, from Columbus, who’s been a Rush fan since he was in high school, it was his fifth time seeing Rush. He said the newer songs that filled show weren’t what he’s used to, but he still enjoyed it.
“They’re playing a lot of newer songs and I don’t know their entire audio work,” he said. “But it’s good to hear and see something different.”
Mike Ferraro’s wife, Kris Ferraro, 46, who was seeing Rush for the 10th time, also said that she was a bigger fan of the older music but didn’t mind hearing new material.
“It’s been fun coming back and hearing the old songs and also learning some of the new ones,” she said.