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RUSH TEST FOR ECHO TOUR 1996-1997

(Text by my friend Sjef Strik; also published in: Background, Progressive rock magazine, issue 61 (oct./nov. 1997), p. 14.)

Rush started their Test for Echo Tour on 19 October 1996 in Albany. The first leg of this tour ended 15 December in Rutherford. The second leg of the tour started on 7 May 1997 in San Diego.
For me personally it was a wish to see Rush in their home country Canada. So I went with a very close friend to Canada to see the next shows of Rush:

* 28 June, Molson Centre, Montreal
* 30 June, Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto (outdoors)
* 2 July, Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto (outdoors)
* 4 July, Corel Centre in Ottawa (Last show of The Test For Echo Tour!)

The setlist of the second leg of the tour:
Opening Sequence

Dreamline
Limelight
Stick It Out
Driven
Half The World
Red Barchetta
Animate
Limbo (Instrumental)
The Trees
Virtuality
Nobody’s Hero
Closer To The Heart
2112 (Complete!)

After the Break:

Test for Echo
Free Will
Red Sector A
Roll The Bones
Resist
Leave That Thing Alone (Instrumental)
Drum Solo (8 min. and 10 sec.!)
Natural Science
Force Ten
Spirit Of Radio
Tom Sawyer
ENCORE: YYZ => Cygnus X-1 => YYZ

It started for us on Saterday 28 June in Montreal, together with 20,000 other enthusiastic Rush fans. From the moment that the opening sequence “Also Sprach Zarathustra” started and a huge videoscreen showed a giant nut and bolt flying through space, everybody stood up, whistling and shouting… for the entire evening! When the nut was screwed on the bolt, Rush started to play Dreamline and the roof was lifted from Molson Centre! It’s impossible to describe this moment, you must have been there to see, hear and feel what was happening.

After Dreamline Rush continued with Limelight and the crowd went crazy. Every time Alex Lifeson played his guitar solo’s you heared a roaring Molson Centre. After Stick It Out bassplayer/singer Geddy Lee welcomed everybody in The Molson Centre and said that Rush would like to torture us this evening with like, a million songs.

Geddy announced the first Test For Echo song of the evening: Driven. The videoscreen showed us the Driven video. Halfway this song Geddy played a little bass solo, perfectly perceptible on the videoscreen. Most of the time if no clips were being shown, the videoscreen showed us close-ups of the guitarsolo’s of Alex, the first-rate stick throwing of Neil Peart (he missed only once!) and every bass riff played by Geddy.

Neil started to play Red Barchetta with new drumsticks that he replaced after this number for a new pair! For playing The Trees Neil turned his drum kit and Geddy used the Moog for the first time. And after the always beautiful Closer To The Heart, it was time for the last number before the break. The Molson Centre was dark and the videoscreen showed a red men & star getting closer and closer, it reminded me of the opening of The Moving Pictures concert in 1981 in Rotterdam: Rush started to play 2112, this time in its entirety, even with some additional improvisations by Alex during the Discovery section. And it was phenomenal!

Rush went off stage for a short break to get a bloodtransfusion, or at least, that’s what Geddy told us.

Satellite dishes flashed lasers onto the Molson roof while Rush opened the second set with Test For Echo. After the second instrumental of the night (Leave That Thing Alone), it was time for the Professor on the drum kit! Surrounded by a wall of percussion instruments, Neil started his drum solo. It’s incredible what this man can do with it! The beginning and the end of this 8:10 m. drum solo were a delight to see on the videoscreen. Another surprise: Rush played from Permanent Waves the last song of this record, Natural Science. All nine minutes of this masterpiece was played beautifully and two silver globes were standing at each corner of the stage. The effect was similar to a ballroom discoball.

Rush ended the show with two classics that they have played every time on tour: Spirit Of Radio and Tom Sawyer. During Tom Sawyer, crew members staged a dinosaurs puppet show behind Alex’s amplifiers with the sign: “We are not the only dinosaurs around here”.
While YYZ hits the Molson Centre as the last encore a fan of lasers hit the roof. At the end of YYZ a 10 second teaser of Cygnus X-1 was played. In the Corel Centre in Ottawa they showed us via the videoscreen shots of the crew of Rush: this was the way of Rush to thank there wonderful crew.

The shows in Toronto were special, not only because it is their home town, but also because the quality of the sound was superb! The first show was filmed by a professional camera crew with a camera crane and a overhead camera on hand. For their own archives? Let’s hope that Rush will find it good enough to share it with their fans.

Four concerts of Rush in one week: we saw as usual an enthusiastic Rush: the crystal-clear guitar solo’s of Alex Lifeson, the concentrated Neil Peart behind his drum kit and the still superb voice and bass riffs of Geddy Lee. Completed with a spectacular light- and lasershow.

I want to end this review with the last words Geddy said when Rush ended the Test For Echo Tour in Ottawa: “See you next tour”!

Sjef Strik

Photo’s: Geddy taken by Sheri (aka Geddygirl) at Ottawa; all other pictures taken by Sjef at Toronto, 2 July 1997.

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