Rush At I-Wireless Center

Rush on Stage in Moline IllinoisOn Tuesday – May 20th, 2008 we drove down to Moline IL, and enjoyed an evening with Rush. It is not often that a big name rock group like Rush comes close to Iowa, and so I could not pass up a chance to see the power trio of Rush live. With no opening act, I believe Velvet Revolver was suppose to open up for them, they played at 7:45 to 11pm with one 20 minute intermission an hour into the show. I took my ten year old son, so he could enjoy his first concert. I am sure some day he will remember this day and think he actually got to see them play live instead of just downloading them on iTunes. They opened up with Limelight and then played most of the songs from the Snakes And Arrows album. The big moments of the show were of course Subdivisions, 2112, and Tom Sawyer.

Rush on Stage with spotlightsRush Stage during intermissionDisappointing for me was that they did not play any songs from the Counterparts album which is one my favorite Rush albums. The i-Wireless Center is a very clean arena and while they did not allow cameras, I was able to take these somewhat fuzzy pictures with my iPhone, (click on the top picture to see a higher resolution). The concert used smoke machines, so it was not possible to get a clean photo at times. Our seats were in the balcony, however there were three large projection screens behind the band that allowed you to see close ups of the band during most of their solos. Without a doubt the drumming solo was the best and went on for what seemed an hour. By comparison the Rush crowd was pretty relaxed, compared to a heavy metal concert like The Heaven And Hell tour with Dio and Black Sabbath. Rush played very solid and loud. I could not make out any of the vocals, but considering where we sat that was to be expected. Overall I enjoyed the Rush concert and I hope my kid thanks me later for taking him.

Up next for me is the Iron Maiden – Somewhere Back On Tour concert. This is one I am really looking forward to since I’ve been an Iron Maiden fan for multiple decades now and Bruce Dickinson is back doing vocals.

Cheap Music

In my lifetime I must have owned more than thirty different Sony Walkmans. Just cleaning my basement last month, I found my collection of over three hundred cassettes. Like most teenagers, I lived music. From 80’s style pop music, to Chicago House dance music, to heavy metal guitar bands, I listened to it all. But as you get older, music becomes less important in your life, and you just do not have the time to sit back and lose yourself as much. Sure I have an iPod, but it somehow isn’t the same. On some weekends, I drive the pickup truck, which still has a tape deck (haven’t had the time to make a new car stereo a priority), and usually listen to an old mix tape.

Of late I have started to buy music again. The Lynyrd Skynyrd’s All Time Greatest Hits is a good collection of southern rock hits to listen to while driving. Last week I picked up The Very Best of Kiss, which I haven’t yet listened to, and I’m still not sure why exactly I got my first KISS album, other than I watch a lot of Family Guy and Halloween and KISS, kind of go together. Regardless, one big reason I bought these albums, was the $9.99 sale price. Most newer music releases nowadays are overpriced (not to mention over-hyped) and simply not worth buying. Online downloads have only made it worse, because they have made the album worthless, if you can get only the two or three singles you want at a fraction, why even bother with the CD? The Register has an interesting interview with music insider Petter Jenner in which he implicates the record industry of destroying their own retail CD sales:

The record companies have increased their margin on downloads, because the costs have been ripped out. So they’ve cut the artists royalties and raised their margin. But because they’ve replaced an album with a single they’ve helped destroy the retail industry, they’re now in a position where they’re completely fucked.

As for decent rock music, I’d have to say that Pearl Jam and U2 are the definitive rock bands. They have outlasted the critics and their peers, and while I’m a bit skeptical of U2’s recent work, Pearl Jam is as solid as AC/DC.

Pop Music Divas

Pop music is the perenial sewer of bad taste, cliche lyrics, and in today’s music world really bad songs. This editorial might seem a tad offensive, but it is suppose to be, a bit offensive I mean. My tirade of the week, has been Kelly Clarkson’s song: Behind These Hazel Eyes. Take it for what it’s worth, but Clarkson won the American Idol competition and the song that Christinia Aguilera wrote for her on the first album was pretty cool. Miss Independent, really is a good song. It’s not great, but it is everything good pop music is suppose to be, a good beat with some silly lyrics that make you feel good when you are thirteen (or totally depressed at 32). Since U Been Gone hit the same mark for Clarkson, it is a fun song and you might even call it a remake of Miss Independent, but the song that radio is killing (I mean playing) is Behind These Hazel Eyes. There is something which Clarkson seems to lack as an artist and that is depth. It’s hard to really explain, but if you listen to Whitney Houston (before she became all crackish) or even Mariah Carey, who is a talented singer despite her crappy songs, you can hear a lot depth. You believe the stupid lyrics, you breathe in the moment sort of speak when they sing. A good singer does this. Right now Clarkson is still not there and her music lacks depth because of it. She may hit the high notes on her music, but she just does not sound believable to me. Perhaps it’s that I don’t really hear the emotion in her songs and I really can’t believe she’s really hurt by love or whatever, but emotion is what sells pop music and so Clarkson’s music is mostly a bad product.

Which brings me to the rest of the pop music world, which is littered with even less talent and emotional depth, that’s right I’m talking about you Hillary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, Ashlee Simpson! This is what happens when music is forced, overly produced, and mass marketed for no other reason than to sell and make money. But one can’t really blame Hillary, Lindsay, or Ashlee, cause they are not the ones who originated it. Nope, I’m talking about you J-Lo! What made you think you could even sing? And for us latin people, what ever possessed you to sing in Spanish? A far worse crime! Britney Spears and J-Lo have great beats, but the talent is not there. They can’t sing. Britney is better than J-Lo at it, but I have no idea why people compare Britney to Madonna. Madonna has class, she has smarts, and most of all she has good taste and a good read on what people will like. Madonna may overly produce her music, but it is always good and interesting, even if you may not like it, you can still appreciate it.

But even in this mire of bad music and pre-packaged bad taste, you have to give it up to Gwen Stefani as being one of the few pop artists that can not only sing with the likes of Donna Summer, but also do the whole hip-hop thing without sounding too wanna-be (a.k.a. Mariah Carey). Stefani is the cool rock-chick. I don’t even like Hollerback Girl, but I still end up grooving the beat and listening to the lyrics.