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12 January 2010 @ 07:43 am
Bp's Song of the Week #71: Rush "The Weapon" (live)  
“Get ready, to have the pants scared right off of you…”

The year was 1984, I was a 4th grader and having just won some sort of contest in Band, I was armed with a $10 gift certificate to Music For You, a local record store. It was a tough decision at the time, I remember telling my brother Mark, who I relied on for most of my musical inspiration, that I was either going to get Huey Lewis & News’ Sports or Madonna’s Like a Virgin. I think I was laughed at for the latter, but Mark always bought the new rock and metal cassettes and I was obviously digging singles from those albums on MTV. But MTV played the live video for “Limelight” from Rush’s Exit…Stage Left and that changed my decision then and there. Mark had the Rush Signals cassette and I really liked the Space Shuttle song (“Countdown”). WOUR (Utica) and WPYX (Albany) were the radio stations of choice back then and they would play Rush, but it was “Limelight” that pushed me to pick up the Exit…Stage Left cassette (which didn’t even have that track on it strangely enough). That was a turning point you might say.

The following year MTV, which used to air concert videos quite often in their entirety, aired the Grace Under Pressure Tour video which my brother and I videotaped in between Doctor Who episodes on a videotape which I still own. That hour-long video I watched over and over and over until it was burned into my brain. I can still tell you where the green MTV logo cyron was placed on the video featured below (4:49). This show from September of 1984, recorded at Maple Leaf Gardens, helped feed what would become the band that shaped my musical world for the next 25 years.

There are a handful of Rock and Roll Iconic Moments I’ll call it, for dramatic purposes, which include Bono kneeling during “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” arms crossed, his breath frosty in the cold Red Rocks air, the cover of Queen’s Live at Wembley with Freddie in a full-on rock pose in front of a sea of people, and there’s one in this clip as well. 5:48 – 6:00, Alex swings out to the edge of the stage, a camera pointed almost vertical from the pit below, looking up at him as works the ride-out of the solo and the banks of lights changing color above him. It’s the camera angle, it’s the red and green lights changing, it’s the complete mastery of the guitar, the joy on his face – it’s just one of many shots in this concert, but for me it’s the quintessential moment.

Ok, I need to get a life.

As a side-note though, this video in conjunction with Genesis’ Mama Tour video (coincidentally filmed the same year), also started my interest in the power of concert lighting, how it can shape a concert, highlighting and emphasizing the music. It led me to numerous interviews with Rush Lighting Director Howard Ungerleider, Metallica’s Ben Richards, to the lighting console for our high school plays, etc. I don’t think I realized the importance of this video until I started this week’s piece and the impact that it had on me (thanks to Fred Sowder for triggering these from a Facebook post).

Back to our program though, so put on your 3-D glasses, (btw, they were only passed out for the video shoot, while the intro video was used both on this tour and the previous one as a joke. Count Floyd was a very popular character on SCTV up in Canada), listen to the bass all the way thru the song as Geddy Lee just tears it up, try to keep up with Neil Peart (one of the few times he uses a click on stage, but can you blame him?), and Alex Lifeson – many people wanted to be one of the Beatles or some other musician, for me it was Alex in this video, the rockin’ jacket and jeans, great hair and look at him play, such control, amazing rhythms, and that solo – not flashy, but amazing, having the time of his life.

Rush – “The Weapon” (originally on 1982’s Signals CD)

2:10 start focusing in on the bass licks Ged’s ripping out
2:50 the drum fills through 3:10 – just brilliant
3:20 more killer bass licks from Ged
5:48 THE moment
6:35 Ged lets loose again!

The Weapon

We've got nothing to fear; but fear itself?
Not pain or failure, not fatal tragedy?
Not the faulty units in this mad machinery?
Not the broken contacts in emotional chemistry?

With an iron fist in a velvet glove
We are sheltered under the gun
In the glory game on the power train
Thy kingdom's will be done

And the things that we fear are a weapon to be held against us…

He's not afraid of your judgment
He knows of horrors worse than your Hell
He's a little bit afraid of dying;
But he's a lot more afraid of your lying

And the things that he fears are a weapon to be held against him…

Can any part of life; be larger than life?
Even love must be limited by time
And those who push us down that they might climb;
Is any killer worth more than his crime?

Like a steely blade in a silken sheath
We don't see what they're made of
They shout about love, but when push comes to shove
They live for the things they're afraid of

And the knowledge that they fear is a weapon to be used against them…


More Rush:
Vital Signs (live P/g video) – one of my favorite bass lines EVER.
The Spirit of Radio (live 1994)