RUSH legends Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson reunited on stage last night (Wednesday, August 10) to perform the band’s classic song “Closer To The Heart”.
The reunion took place at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver as part of a celebration marking the 25th anniversary of animated comedy show “South Park”. Lee and Lifeson were joined for the performance by their longtime friends PRIMUS, as well as “South Park” show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
“South Park: The 25th Anniversary Concert” will air Saturday, August 13 on Comedy Central, and a day later on Paramount+.
Stone is a huge fan of RUSH, having told the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, “RUSH was the first band I ever loved.”
According to Variety, there have been multiple RUSH references in “South Park” over the years, including in 2011’s “Royal Pudding” episode when was RUSH is tapped to perform at a vigil after the princess of Canada was abducted before her wedding. The group is shown on stage playing a mock version of Elton John‘s “Candle In The Wind”, sung as “Flower Breaking Wind”, which results in Lifeson and some members of the audience committing suicide. The band also featured “South Park” characters in a video they showed live before they played “Tom Sawyer” during their last few tours. In 1999, Lee and Lifeson teamed up with Parker and Stone to record a rocking version of “O’ Canada” for the film “South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut”.
This past April, Lifeson said that it was “difficult to accept” that he would never play with RUSH again after the completion of the “R40” tour, which commemorated the 40th anniversary of drummer Neil Peart joining the band.
Peart died in January 2020 after a three-year battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He was 67 years old.
Lifeson reflected on RUSH‘s final tour, which concluded on August 1, 2015 at the Forum in Los Angeles, during a June 2021 appearance on SiriuxXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”. Peart indicated at the time that he wanted to retire while he was still able to play well, along with a desire to spend more time at home with his young daughter.
“We were in our early 60s when that tour ended,” Alex said. “After the number of dates that we did do, which was about half of what we would normally do, we were all starting to feel the fatigue, as you normally would. And had it been a normal tour, we have gone out for probably another month and then taken a month off, or maybe a couple of months off, and then picked it up for another three or four months.
“I think personally, and I think the same for Ged [RUSH bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee], we were really excited about the show, the presentation of the show, the whole concept of going back through our history,” he continued. “I thought we were all playing really, really well, and I probably could have continued to do another 30 shows, and I think Geddy felt the same way. But it was becoming really difficult for Neil to play at that level, and unless he could play a hundred percent at that level, he really didn’t wanna do any more shows, and he didn’t wanna be that person that should have taken it. And it was hard for him — a three-hour show playing the way he played. It’s a miracle that he was even able to play. And he had some issues through that tour — he had an infection on his feet and he could barely walk, never mind playing the bass drum the way he did. And he never complained or anything like that. So, it was time. And in retrospect, it couldn’t have been better, because we were playing great, and we finished on such a high note. The fans were so happy — I mean, with the performance. All things were right. That was the great way to ensure our legacy and be remembered for those guys, for being that band that played that way. I honestly would hate to be working now, for example, and not being able to play a song because my fingers are just killing me and not playing as well and making all these mistakes. I made enough mistakes — way too many. So, all in all, it really turned out to be the opportune time for us to end a long career. Not a lot of bands lasted 40 years of that regular touring and many, many, many albums and all of that stuff.”
RUSH waited three days to announce Peart‘s passing, setting off shockwaves and an outpouring of grief from fans and musicians all over the world.
Peart joined RUSH in 1974. He was considered one of the best rock drummers of all time, alongside John Bonham of LED ZEPPELIN; Keith Moon of THE WHO; and Ginger Baker of CREAM. Peart was also RUSH‘s primary lyricist, drawing inspiration from everything from sci-fi to Ayn Rand.
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