Concert Review: Rush, Valley View Casino Arena, San Diego

For 38 years Rush has been the underdog band, they never seem to get the credit they deserve but keep on rocking nonetheless. Even after selling millions of albums, sold out arenas around the world and performed at the highest level they never seem to get the main stream attention other lesser bands get. After all these years these bands come and go and Rush continues to rock the building. Considered one of the best live acts in the business, going to a Rush concert is a geeky orgasm. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart are three of the best musicians in rock. All three of them are respected and considered among the best in their respective instrument. Neil is by far the most influential drummer of the last 30 years. Most kit players these days have been influenced by Peart one way or another. Geddy is also a pretty good musician. As a bass player he’s easily one of the top performers in the game but what really sets him apart is the way he can multi task during a concert often playing the keyboards and bass at the same time while singing.

After more than 35 years of touring they decided to give it another shot, this time to promote their new album, Clockwork Angels.  As a long time fan I was glad to hear that this new album was actually something to look forward to as their last few of their recent work was lackluster at best.    For those who don’t know, going to a Rush concert means going to see at least 2 and a half hours of music, at least.  For the Clockwork Angels tour we are getting around three hours of music with a 15 minute interlude. The first part of the concert was a surprising one as they decided to dig deep in to their 80′s catalog. Some if these songs hadn’t been played for 30 years. It was welcoming to hear a set of music that reminded us of how deep their catalog is.

Subdivisions was the opener, a staple song of their 80′s repertoire and one that many identify themselves with when it first released. The Big Money and Force Ten followed keeping the same style that includes keyboards as their main instrument; creating atmospheres that are very different from their early 70′s prog albums. Next up they played three songs that aren’t as well known to casual fans but were also good additions to the style they were playing. Territories was quite a treat. The Analog Kid was the first real highlight of the night as all three members executed their parts to perfection. They ended the first section of the night with an instrumental song called Where’s my Thing which included Neil Peart’s obligatory solo, followed up by the first change in style of the evening, Far Cry from the album Snakes & Arrows.

The second part of the show is when they really let things go. Featuring a string section that included a group of very enthusiastic players, Rush decided to highlight their new work playing 9 songs out of their new album.  Caravan started off the second half just like in the album, this is easily my favorite song of the new album and they gave it the whole Rush Production treatment, which was great.   Fireworks, moving lights and extra screens accompanied all new songs.   Each song featured very well thought out videos, as well as their own individual production.  The Wreckers and The Garden were probably the best songs in this set.  My only complaint is that they’ve been alternating between Seven Cities of Gold and Wish Them Well between cities and we got to hear the latter which is not nearly as good.   Dreamline was next followed by a very interesting electronic drum solo, The Percussor.  Red Sector A followed, one of the highlights of the show for me, specially in the lighting department. Finally the third part included their greatest hits which really rocked the house. YYZ, The Spirit of Radio followed by the encore which included Tom Sawyer and 2112 were more than enough to send all fans happy.

This was my fifth time seeing them. I have a couple of notes I want to add before giving my final score. Geddy’s voice is nowhere near what it once was. I don’t really enjoy the style he employs to cover up the flaws aging has brought. I know i’m being a little bit picky but I’m doing a review so I have to bring it up.   Their playing is still flawless and their production values are good (not up to the Vapor Trails or R30 tours though). I also saw a real decrement in the crowd size. I use to see them sell out the house. Even with the new album they had a good 20% of the arena empty, a sign that maybe their days as a big time act are finally coming to an end. I was still pleased by what I saw but wasn’t surprised anymore. It’s still one of the best concerts out there. If you’re a fan and haven’t seen them go out and buy a ticket before they completely lose it. They aren’t that old yet, they aren’t in their 60′s yet, and may still have a good 5 years of good playing to go, but that doesn’t mean i’ll be attending another 3 hour marathon.  I think I’ve seen them enough times.

SCORE: 8.1 out of 10.0


The Big Money
Force Ten
Grand Designs
Middletown Dreams
The Analog Kid
The Pass
Where’s my Thing
Drum Solo
Far Cry

-String Section-

Clockwork Angels
The Anarchist
The Wreckers
Headlong Flight
Halo Effect
Wish Them Well
The garden
Red Sector A
The Percussor (Drum Solo)
The Spirit of Radio


Tom Sawyer
2112 Part I Overture
2112 Part II The Temple of Syrinx
2112 Part VII The Grand Finale


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35 thoughts on “Concert Review: Rush, Valley View Casino Arena, San Diego

  1. Boy talk about phoning in a review…. tons of spelling errors tons of grammatical errors…. was that a joke about their production not being up to standards compared to Rush in Rio also known as the Vapor Trails tour and R 30? This is their biggest production to date ever taken out on the road. You don’t think the fact that the show took place the night before Thanksgiving would have anything to do with that little fact concerning an emptier arena would you? Not to mention the fact that the recession and the economy is absolutely killing the concert industry as we speak. Rush continues to average 10,000 or more people per show which is exactly what they’ve been doing for the last 25 years. 16 years of which have been an evening with format with no opening act to bring in an extra crowd….. I would say Rush is doing quite fine considering the fact that most of their arena shows are near capacity.

    • I still don’t think they had the production they had in other tours where they added Lasers and better sound. Yeah, I think there are many factors for the poor turn out, but this isn’t the first concert on this tour that doesn’t sell out as it used to. Ticket prices are crazy and I know some don’t want to pay that much money for a concert. Of course they’re doing quite fine, but still one must admit they’re not the same that they use to.

  2. The sound quality was horrible the vocals were unintelligible, there was too much reverberation and the lower register was washing out all other sounds. I couldn’t hear the string section for the second set so they weren’t relevant. The drum solo was like listening to a tennis ball in a dryer. I was very disappointed as a longtime fan and concert goer. I’ve been to every show since 1984 and this was by far the worse. I’ve read yelp reviews and the sports arena is known for really bad sound, but other reviews lead me to believe that Rush’s engineers weren’t the best either. Anyone else have this experience?

    • I agree, the sound was disappointing. I just went to see Peter Gabriel a couple of months ago and it was one of the best sounding concerts i’ve ever attended, and it was in this same venue. So I’m guessing it was the engineers. I also agree the string section was irrelevant as you couldn’t hear them.

    • My experience exactly. When Geddy played the keyboards and drove the bass line with foot pedals (I think), the sound was especially bad from my seat. Complete low-end mush. When Neil would hit too many cymbals, it turned into a wall of white noise. It felt like it would have sounded much better if they had turned down the volume some.

      Was the Peter Gabriel concert referenced below this loud? I don’t think the Sports Arena acoustics can handle this volume.

      • The Peter Gabriel concert was about as perfect sounding as it could be in this building. He had an acoustic piano and it sounded marvelous. I was very impressed. I’ve been to many concerts throughout the years in this venue. Highlights include Michael Buble, Metallica, Peter Gabriel and Aerosmith. Yeah I know they are very different from each other. Buts thats the reason I can compare objectively. Ive seen all sorts of acts and Rush’ wasn’t the best in terms of sound.

    • I agree, though we have to be critical about what we see. It was a great show don’t get me wrong but it wasn’t their best. I loved the song selection, it was nice to hear something different from the usual stuff. I respect them a lot for what they do, but still, there are older dudes doing the same, maybe not with the musicianship that they’re achieving but still doing it. Roger Waters plays more than two hours and he is almost ten years older than them…

  3. All you naysayers do us a favor and stay home! I’ve seen them multiple times since Moving Pictures and you’re saying there production part was down? What show had more pyro then this tour? Just leave the seats for the real RUSH fans. I’m headed to the airport to go to vegas to see them Friday night, All the way from Wisconsin, yes, they are that good!

    • Yeah, they are really good, but lets be honest, every tour is different and each one presents different types of things. I personally thought it wasn’t as good as the last one, but it still ups almost any other live act. You need to read well, I gave them a score of 8 which is pretty good, its an excellent concert but it wasn’t up to par with the R30 or Vapor Trails tour. Thats just my two cents. I’m a big big Rush fan, they’re one of my favorite bands.

  4. Maybe you should remove the eye and ear plugs before going to the next concert… I have seen them three times on this tour and don’t agree with any of your criticisms…

  5. And I am also a big time Rush fan… I live in Lima, Peru, and have to take a 5 hour flight to either Florida or Texas to see them… and I don’t mind paying the thousands of dollars all that travelling entails to see the boys perform…

    • Good! I love them too but we have to be objective here. There are things that arent the same anymore. Sports Arena isnt the best venue and you need a real good engineer to get the best sound. Peter Gabriel’s did the perfect job, but last night was a sub par performance by the audio team.

  6. Haven’t seen a show on this tour yet. Going to all three Texas shows. But the fact that the reviewer calls himself a fan and thinks the song is called, “Dreamliners” says all it needs to about the credibility.

  7. I don’t know what’s happened in the San Diago show??? That’s a shame!

    But in Montréal last october it was the best sounding Rush show i heard since Presto tour (1990) And Geddy blow me away with his singing that night, a way better than the last two tours! Amazing! There was no bad distortion at all!

    It was my 13th Rush shows!

    It was probably a very bad night in San Diego for the engineer :(

    • I dont think it was that bad a show or that bad of a performance for the engineer. Its a tough place to have a good sound. Im not that critical of the sound. Im just said that the show was t as good as previous I’ve attended. Everybody seems to think im hating, dont know why. I actually liked this show better than the Snakes & Arrows one i attended. My friend who attended the Time machine told me he didnt know what tour was better this one or that one. My opinion is that maybe they are slowing down a bit. I loved that he divided the drum solo in three. That was a nice change.

  8. Juan, do your homework. The “decrement” in attendance you are talking about is because San Diego wasn’t on the original tour list and was a late addition to the tour. I along with other regular SD RUSH fans bought tickets for the Anaheim show and planned the road trip to see our favorite band. When SD was added about 2 months ago some of us SD residents decided to buy tickets to that show too, others did not.

  9. I already accepted the first complaint about the spelling and grammar. I just dont need to be accepting insults. Go ahead and write your own review if you want. Its just my opinion and thats it. You guys take it waaaay to personal.

  10. Flew over from Phoenix for this my fourth show on the tour. From the 5th row in front of Ged;s keyboads the sound was just fine. I found that Neil’s drumming was more pronounced and there is not a thing wrong with that. Granted seeing them in a 5 year old 400 million building like the Prudential Center in Newark NJ in October ( beat show of the 44 I have ever seen ) will never compare to the Sports Arena, they still rock like no other. Looking forward to Sunday night when they film for the DVD. I would guess Juan Valverde will not be purchasing said DVD.

  11. Flew over from Phoenix for my fourth show on this tour. What I did notice that Neil’s kit was more pronouced from my 5th row seat in front of Ged’s keyboards. Granted the Sports Arena will never be confused with the Prudential Center in Newark on October 20th where I witnessed the Best Rush gig I have ever attended ( and SD made 45 shows for me) but hey the boys put on a 3 hour show. Looking forward to Sunday night when the Phoenix show is being filmed for release. My guess is that ole Juan Valverde will not “waste” his bounty on a DVD. Just as well.

  12. Pingback: Long Live Rock! « Clearly Not Normal

  13. wow…. the back and forth banter is…. kinda funny. I’ve see the band 5 times as well. I knew going into it that Geddys voice is not that great anymore and that even the vocals on CA are hard to understand much of the time. But I enjoyed the show a lot. I wish they had played Seven Cities in this show, but thats ok… I will buy the dvd when it comes out and am pretty certain it will be on that. The real draw to a Rush show is not Geddys singing. The real treat is seeing these three guys do amazing things with their instruments. And the light show/fireworks were great. Could it have been better? Certainly. Am I glad I went? You bet!

  14. Juanvalverde…. you as the reviewer get to say what you want. People can either agree or disagree with your review…. people shouldn’t attack you for your opinion… Im sure as a reviewer that is par for the course… let it roll off your back. The rest of you…. keep it respectful…. at the end of the day it is only a rock show by a band… seriously.

    • Thanks. I’ve gotten used to this kind kf stuff. Its disappointing to read this disrespectful comments by knowledgeable fans of a band that I love. My review is a positive one but people tend to only look at the negative parts. Rush aren’t perfect. Some concerts are better than other. Sometimes because of sound, other times execution etc. most people cant bring their A game all the time. Rush at this point is still better than most bands and at least from the execution department they probably beat everybody. But I wont just praise them, you are used to that, lets also hear the parts where they didnt do that well. Thanks for your comment!

  15. Speaking of execution where everything was right… did u catch the 2006 David Gilmour tour? Now that was amazing… though the show I saw at the Gibson paled compared to his Albert Hall show immortalized in the dvd from the show… the guitar on Time was different from every other time I’ve heard it and the drumming on Echoes leading to the finale had energy and feeling unlike any of the other performances on the tour!

  16. I don’t live in San Diego – however I did visit March Break and I have to say it is one beautiful city – but I would take and 8.1 out of 10 show over newer less talented acts that may have their complete A game that night. I took my 4 year old son to his first RUSH concert – and first concert ever – in Toronto and they were on fire. Sounds like San Diego was a bit of a blip. P.S. Love Phil’s BBQ and I wish we had that here!

  17. With regards to the attendance at the Rush show in San Diego, I thought it was a great turnout! We must also remember they just played a near capacity show just a few months ago in the summer of 2011 here at Coors Ampitheatre (or whatever they call it now). Also, this SD show was added just a month or two ago to the tour, when all the other shows had tickets on sale since last April. Since 2002, Rush have headlined 4 shows at Coors Amphitheatre , 1 at the Sports Arena, 5 at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, 1 at Staples Center, 2 at the Hollywood Bowl, 2 at Nokia Theatre, 1 at the Anaheim Arrowhead Pond and 5 at the Gibson Amphitheatre (and I’m sure I am missing a few). Not too many bands have that power! I’ve been to all of them and the SD show was my 40th since 1984. They have also headlined the Sports Arena more than any other band over the past 40 yrs. The greatest band alive and get no respect. I hope they flip the bird to the R&R Hall of Fame when they get inducted this year, for passing them over the past 15 yrs. If any band should be a first ballot inductee, it’s Rush. One of the most influential bands of all time and the greatest musicians alive!

    • True. Most fans of Rush wouldnt miss an opportunity to see their favorite band. And that includes me. I was a little disappointed by the turnout but, yes, i agree economy and some external factors where in hand.

  18. Pingback: Rush – Clockwork Angels Tour Review « The Lofty Oaks

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