Rush at GM Place - Vancouver, B.C. - 5/29/08
This was my second show on the 2008 leg of the Snakes & Arrows tour. The first was in Phoenix, AZ, at the outdoor Cricket Pavilion. This time, it was at the indoor GM Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, with my wife and eight-year-old son, Cameron. We drove to Vancouver from Seattle, which is about a 3-1/2 hour drive. Unfortunately, it took much longer, due to traffic leading into the George Massey tunnel as well as the construction on Cambie street.
After we parked, we walked to GM Place to pick up my tickets from Will Call (yes, I lost them so I had to get replacements). Then we walked around the venue so I could show Cameron Neil's bus. Cameron felt a little nervous, as if Neil was going to pop out and tell us to leave.
After that, we went to dinner at a mall on Abbot street. The only thing that looked good was Chinese food. Cameron was more interested in going up the gigantic escalators. He dragged his mom up, and then he wanted me to go. I have to admit that with a chronic fear of heights, these escalators made my hands sweat. Of course, Cameron thought that was hilarious.
A different view
The main reason for going to this particular show was so Cameron could sit on the side and see the band (he was upset at White River last year when his view was blocked by people standing in front of him). The seats, twenty or so rows up in section 119, were OK -- but with the new binoculars I purchased on the way up to the show (in Bellingham), I could see a lot of stuff that you don't usually see when you're in front of the band. For instance:
- Lorne, Neil's drum tech, sits on a drum throne and watches Neil the entire show -- waiting for a problem to happen.
- Neil goes through a pair of sticks about every 2-3 songs. After each song, he checks the stick for problems. When he's done with a stick, he throws it to Lorne, who places them in a drawer. Neil grabs a new pair of sticks right before Malignant Narcissism and the drum solo.
- Neil often rests his left foot on his double bass pedal -- even when he's not playing it.
- Neil's setlist is on his bass drum. (You can see a photo of it here.)
- Alex's setlist is on his pedal box.
- The TelePrompTer that Geddy uses for the lyrics scrolls a few lines at a time and then stops. At the end of the lyrics is the next song title.
- On the last song, all the techs start packing everything up.
- One of the computers used for mixing (on Alex's side of the stage) is a Windows Vista box. Tony Geranios, Geddy's keyboard tech, has a Mac. The slideshow that plays when he's not using it has personal pictures of the band and other places.
What's that smell?
During this show, the band played at the high level I've seen for most of this tour -- with very few, if any, mistakes. Geddy and Neil seemed particularly fired up. The arena was at about three-quarters capacity. Unfortunately, the place where we sat is where many of the party concert-goers like to sit.
First, I had to explain to Cameron about the pungent smell wafting by us about every 10 minutes. (Later, when I told people in Seattle about the abundance of pot smoking, most said, "What did you expect, you were in Vancouver." I guess I wasn't aware Vancouver was the pot smoking capital of North America.)
A few songs from the end of the first set, an Amazonian woman and her date sat to my right. The guy decided he was going to talk to the woman instead of watch the concert. Usually, this wouldn't matter too much -- but he ended up being louder than the music at times. Then, the woman leaned over and asked who the bass player was. If I'd told her it was Paul McCartney, she probably would have believed me.
A group of teenagers sat in front of us, drinking from whiskey bottles, smoking pot, but not bothering anyone else for the most part. They disappeared after the first set, which leads me to my next topic...
A lapse of security
Security seemed adequate for the first half of the show, stopping fights, nabbing some of those pot smokers or picture takers, and moving people out of the tunnel entrance just to our left. But something happened during the second set. I guess security decided to take a break, because the floor became a much more crowded place. My friends Monica and Steve, standing in the fifth row, said that security did nothing about people who snuck onto the floor in the second set.
During intermission, I waited in the longest food line of all time. By the time I got up to the counter, they had run out of pretzels (and Cam wanted one). I ordered a couple churros instead and got into the arena to hear half of "Far Cry." I decided to wait until after the pyro explosions to walk to my seat.
Setting records on the run
When the show was over, we got out to our car in record time and tore out of the parking lot. We were out of the GM Place neighborhood and driving up Cambie street 10 minutes after the show was over. Cambie street, currently in the middle of being torn apart for a train project, was much easier to navigate at midnight than at 6:00 p.m.
When we got to the U.S. Border, I told the border guard, "We went to the Rush concert." His response: "How was it?" Sometimes these border patrol types can be a little serious (even before 9/11). But two adults and a kid in the back probably don't fit their profile for people bringing contraband across the border.
After Brenda and Cameron fell asleep, I settled into a relaxing drive through northwestern Washington. After we picked up Drew from my brother's house, we got in the door at around 2:15. And I had to get up for work the next day. As I was falling asleep, I was thinking about the lyrics from Dreamline, "We're only at home when we're on the run..."