2004: Summertime Blues

“Rush couldn’t actually be retiring…could they?”

That was my crux of my paranoia as the Summer of 2004 was fast approaching.  The band was about to embark on a 30th anniversary tour and the shows were selling out like crazy.  Despite the celebration of their run, there were persistent rumors that the band would pack it in after this tour.  They’d just released an eight track EP made up of cover versions of 60’s songs the band members grew up playing so it seemed they’d come full circle.  After being blown away by the two shows I saw on their Vapor Trails tour, I knew I had to see them again – especially if it could be my last chance.

Bless the portal to infinity know as eBay.  I kept my eye on several auctions for seats at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ (not a paid advertisement).  I was working the night an auction for one of the better pairs of seats was ending so a friend of mine was parked in front of his computer bidding for me.  Five hundred dollars later, victory was mine!  Two orchestra center seats and VIP parking would cost a minimum of $300 anyway so it wasn’t all that unreasonable to me.  In fact, this remains the most I’ve ever paid for concert tickets in my 32 years.

The covers EP, Feedback, kicked off with a cover of Blue Cheer’s take on the Eddie Cochran classic “Summertime Blues.”  Hey, if you’re coming up on 50 and about to embark on a summer tour celebrating 30 years as a band, it makes perfect sense to call back to one of the songs which lit your spark as an impressionable teenage musician.  Frankly, my favorite version of the song is Eddie’s original one but Rush’s bombastic cover is a very close second, even above The Who’s faithful rendition from Live at Leeds.  You can feel how much fun the band is having as they step into the shoes of their youth, and this opening track sets up a momentum which carries all the way through the album’s eight tracks.  Many drives to work began with Alex Lifeson’s opening guitar swell to pump me up for another soul-crushing day in Retail Hell.  I’d even say I owe the band a debt of gratitude to the band for keeping my spirits up during the beginning of a frustrating period in my professional life, thanks in part to this song.

As expected, the band blasted through thirty years of favorites during that August 14 show, and it was worth every dollar it cost me.  The blues were nowhere to be found on that hot summer night as I reveled in the top notch musicianship of Canada’s finest.  I even went home with souvenir bobbleheads of the band!  Ten years later, this song is an absolute necessity among those which get me fired up.  Here’s hoping ti does the same for you.

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