Few rock bands that emerged in the 1970s have achieved career longevity until the present day. One of the notable exceptions is the hard rockin’ Canadian trio Rush. The group’s 1974 self-titled debut and the follow-up album Fly By Night, issued the following year, created a buzz among heavy rock aficionados, but little else. The third album, Caress Of Steel, found the band beginning to create a hard-edged form of progressive rock (quite unlike its British progressive-rock counterpart) that confused as many fans as it gained. The breakthrough would finally occur upon the release of Rush’s fourth album, 2112 in March of 1976. An ambitious concept album that explored a dystopian future, with lyrics influenced by the philosophical writings of Ayn Rand, 2112 found Rush striking a new balance between heavy and progressive rock that established all three members as highly accomplished instrumentalists. Arguably the band’s signature album, 2112 would be lambasted by critics, yet gained the band a rabid global following that remains strong to the present day.
Presented here is Rush recorded live at The Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ at the tail end of 1976, just nine months after the release of 2112. Performing choice selections from their first four albums, this concert provides a nice overview of the group’s early years, just as they were beginning to break big. From the raging opener of “Bastille Day” to the encore pairing of “Fly By Night” and “In The Mood,” this performance is a prime example of these three musicians vacillating between the heavy metal leanings of their first two albums and the more ambitious material from Caress Of Steel and 2112.
Also featured here are strong renditions of “Anthem,” another Ayn Rand influenced composition from their second album and the autobiographical “Lakeside Park” from their third, conveying a slightly softer side to the group. However, the centerpiece of this performance is unquestionably the epic title track from 2112. Clocking in at a full 16 minutes, here the band is clearly shifting into more complex compositions and the more eclectic sci-fi lyrical leanings that would capture the imaginations of millions. It was performances like this that won Rush such a dedicated following, which continues to pack arenas every time Rush takes to the road.