July 2 • Riverbend Music Center

My enduring memory of discovering Rush came with the release of its sophomore album, Fly by Night, in 1975. My most excellent friend Kevin had recently purchased a swank stereo component system, complete with manual Pioneer turntable (meaning, of course, no automatic return; you physically lift the tonearm off the record). We knew Rush only from hearing "Working Man" and a couple of others from the first album, but we'd heard they had changed drummers and direction, so Kevin bought the album and we settled in to listen.

As it was the '70s, we were in a slightly elevated state of consciousness (baked to the eyebrows is perhaps a more direct assessment).

Side one's final track was "By-Tor and the Snow Dog," a suite of songs telling a Prog Rock tale that was musically impressive but perhaps slightly silly in lyrical content. Still, we liked what we'd heard. A good half hour after the side finished, Kevin and I looked at each other, realizing neither of us had attended to the record player because there was still sound emanating from the speakers. The sound of bells, sleigh bells maybe. The album's tail-out section ended with an infinite loop groove, so if you let it play, the bells at the end of "By-Tor" would ring forever (or until a power outage). In our altered state, we just went with the bells.

That experience is something of a metaphor regarding the long, Hall of Fame career that Rush has established in the subsequent four decades. The trio — powerfully nimble guitarist Alex Lifeson, sinewy bassist/perfectly histrionic vocalist Geddy Lee and the Professor on the drum kit and lyrics, the dazzlingly musical Neil Peart — has survived shifting trends and natural creative lulls to become a consistently powerful Prog/Rock entity, confident enough in their skills and their fans to take appropriate risks and reap appropriate rewards, particularly on last year's Clockwork Angels, acclaimed by Classic Rock magazine as Rush's best album in three decades.

And like By-Tor's bells, they just keep going.

RUSH plays Tuesday, July 2 at Riverbend Music Center in Anderson. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.

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