Don’t be in a hurry to judge Rush

Geddy Lee’s distinctive, high-pitched voice will fill the Centrium on Wednesday when Rush, one of Canada’s greatest, albeit most polarizing, bands performs in Red Deer.

Geddy Lee’s distinctive, high-pitched voice will fill the Centrium on Wednesday when Rush, one of Canada’s greatest, albeit most polarizing, bands performs in Red Deer.

The 45-year-old group that’s been swept our way because of Calgary’s flood-damaged Saddledome is one that music fans have always tended to either love or hate.

Those who idolize Rush are truly enraptured — Rolling Stone magazine once called them the “Trekkies” of rock.

These devotees praise the band’s experimentation and diversity. They admire Rush’s musical shape-shifting over the years, noting the band has moved through a bluesy hard rock phase in the early 1970s to an ongoing affair with progressive rock, including a fantasy-inspired lyrics — all without softening its sound.

In the ’80s, Rush piloted a controversial mix of synthesizer-powered rock and reggae, and New Wave influences, and then picked up alternative rock elements in the ’90s. More recently, the band once again has a more guitar-driven acoustic vibe.

Even detractors have to give Rush brownie points for musicianship.

While his voice has drawn the ire of some critics, Lee is an award-winning bass player, whose technique has proved influential in the heavy metal genre. According to Wikipedia, he has inspired such players as Cliff Burton of Metallica and Steve Harris of Iron Maiden.

Rush’s guitarist Alex Lifeson developed signature riffs, including unusual electronic effects and innovative chord structures, which were influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend and Jimmy Page. He’s even thrown in interesting classical and Spanish guitar flourishes.

The group’s percussionist, Neil Peart, was voted the greatest rock drummer by music fans, critics and fans on drummerworld.com. His incorporation of unlikely instruments, including glockenspiel and tubular bells, helped create Rush’s sonic breadth and diversity.

Peart’s eclectic songwriting, which has drawn on science fiction, literature and philosophy, also helped create Rush’s niche as the cerebral fan’s rock group.

Of course, some listeners aren’t won over by the social and humanitarian subject matter Peart has tackled. They deride Rush tunes as pretentious or preachy. The gap between the pro and con forces is cavernous, with Peart nabbing second place on Blender magazine’s 40 Worst Lyricists in Rock list, while Allmusic.com hails him as “one of rock’s most accomplished lyricists.”

And then there’s that voice.

Lee’s signature shriek has probably fuelled most of the criticism levelled at the band, especially in the early days. The New York Times once compared Lee to “a munchkin giving a sermon.”

But his voice has softened over the years and a lot of people obviously don’t mind the high pitch.

The band best known for the hits Tom Sawyer, Limelight, Spirit of Radio, Freewill and Working Man, has fans around the globe. Watch an indie movie from Scotland or Norway and chances are, the young hero has a Rush poster prominently displayed on his bedroom wall.

The group that started out in Toronto’s Willowdale neighbourhood in 1968 has amassed more than 40 million in album sales, multiple Juno Awards and was recently inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Whether you like ’em or hate ’em, the Rush musicians are destined to rock on, winning over new generations of rock Trekkies.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Downtown Red Deer businesses concerned non-profit will move into prominent Ross Street space

Concern builds over John Howard Society converting a retail bay into office space

Seeking energy independence, Palestinians open solar plant

JERICHO, Palestinian Territory — Palestinian officials say they have inaugurated their first… Continue reading

UK, Japan mobile operators suspend Huawei 5G phone launches

LONDON — British and Japanese mobile phone companies said Wednesday they’re putting… Continue reading

Crackdown on money laundering does not include federal public inquiry: minister

VICTORIA — The federal minister in charge of Canada’s fight against money… Continue reading

Duterte moves to forcibly send garbage back to Canada, spokesman says

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has moved to have truckloads… Continue reading

Dogs and drugs don’t mix: Red Deer business wants to leave downtown after 18 years

One business owner is done with downtown Red Deer after 18 years.… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Gonzalez helps power Twins to 8-3 victory over Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Marwin Gonzalez keeps coming through for the Minnesota Twins.… Continue reading

Another athlete slams testosterone rules, refuses medication

NAIROBI, Kenya — Another Olympic medallist has criticized the IAAF’s testosterone regulations… Continue reading

Madonna perfects her off-key Eurovision act online

JERUSALEM — The Queen of Pop has cleaned up her act. After… Continue reading

Cher’s Winnipeg concert scrubbed at last minute due to sudden short-term illness

WINNIPEG — About 10,000 Cher fans in Winnipeg went home disappointed Tuesday… Continue reading

Lowry scores 25 as Raptors even up series against Bucks with 120-102 win

Raptors 120, Bucks 102 (Best-of-seven series tied 2-2) TORONTO — Kyle Lowry… Continue reading

Hiker and his dog lived off the land while lost in Alaska

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A hiker and his dog ate berries and moss… Continue reading

Most Read