Hemispheres: Tour Book

In the beginning, in 1974, there was an album called Rush and a fresh-faced youthful threesome from Toronto, Canada, pounding out heavy rock rhythms in Zeppelin-type style.

Four years and another five discs later, in ’78, there is an album called Hemispheres and a more mature, more experienced band creating music of a personal, highly developed and inarguably unique nature.

First taste of what was to come occurred shortly before the release of Rush’s second album, Fly by Night, when original drummer John Rutsey left the band and new skinsbeater Neil Peart arrived. Immediately Peart took ahold of the lyric reins and Rush’s music, with the full consent of the two remaining founding members Alex Lifeson (Guitar) and Geddy Lee (Bass, Vocals), began to take on a less straight ahead, more mystical flavour. A third platter, Caress of Steel, saw this development taking further shape, with a whole side being devoted to the tale of a soul-searching quest for “The Fountain of Lamneth.” But is wasn’t until their fourth album that Rush truly defined their role as epic music story-tellers, scions of Sci-Fi and sword and sorcery as well as a rock band.

Entitled “2112,” once again an entire side of the album was taken up with the musical relating of a titanic tale. This time around it was a case of futureshock, a story of a society in the 22nd century living under the so-called “Temples of Syrinx” . . . a race of priests who regarded music as a corrupt force and who reckoned that a guitar was “a toy that helped to destroy the elder race of man!” When such an instrument was played in one of their temples, and its joyous music filled its barren halls, the priests reacted with predictable venom . . . . “2112,” lovingly crafted, stunning and stimulating, marked a turning point in Rush’s career, becoming a hugely successful album. In an attempt to acquaint new-found fans with their past recorded work, the next Rush release was a double, retrospective style live album called All the World’s a Stage. And later, in 1977, the band again broke new ground by coming to Britain, encasing themselves in rural Rockfield Studios in Wales and recording an album by the name of A Farewell to Kings.

Away from the bustle of city life, Rush came up with a pastoral yet powerful album, its by now traditional “epic track” present in the form of the space opera “Cygnus X-1,” a story about a spaceship pilot plunging through a black hole in space. And if you thought that Rush might have exhausted all areas of inspiration, then lend an ear to this, their latest album Hemispheres, in which—to borrow a phrase—they boldly go where no band has gone before. Again recorded at Rockfield, the album contains just four tracks, two short, straightforward and sensitively rendered (“The Trees” and “Circumstances”), the other couple high-powered, hot-blooded and often mind-blowing in their complexites (“La Villa Strangiato” and “Hemispheres”). It is these latter two numbers that show just how greatly Rush have developed over the years. The band call “La Villa Strangiato” a “musical reconstruction of some of Alex’s nightmares” (apparently the guitarist is often plagued by the most vividly bad dreams) and appropriately it’s totally unlike anything they’ve ever attempted before. It’s many parted, multi-faceted and definitely deserving of careful scrutiny and many plays. Meanwhile “Hemispheres” itself brings an end to the story of “Cygnus X-1,” which had its beginnings on the previous album A Farewell to KIngs. It had, if you remember, a cliff hanger ending when our hero disappeared through a gaping black hole . . . never to be seen again? The “2112”-length “Hemispheres” number concludes the tale in unexpected, unorthodox fashion—if you expected Rush to cop out and go for usual science fiction stand-by explanations of “other dimensions” or “matter transportation,” think again. “Hemispheres,” through hard-hitting and dynamic, evocative lyrics, tells the tale of a battle between the gods Apollo and Dionysus, of the intervention of the deity Cygnus, and of the “balance” he eventually manages to achieve.

All this, plus no small amount of rock and roll as well. What more could you wish for?

By Geoff Barton

Behind the Scenes

Our Road Manager and Lighting Director is Howard Ungerleider. Weeks in advance of the show, Herns is glued to the telephone, with the promoters, stage managers, caterers, and hotels in each city on the tour. It is his job to arrange all the travel, accommodations, technical requirements, and personal needs for the band and the crew. He also takes care of the band finances. As lighting director, Herns if the man who designs the system itself, and operates the control panel during the show.

Mike Hirsch is our Stage Manager, who arrives each morning with the first truck and the lighting crew, and is the last to leave in the early hours of the following day, with the last truck—and the lighting crew! Michael supervises all aspects of the equipment load-in, set-up, and load-out. He organizes the sound checks, the backstage security, and the set changes during the show, ensuring that the show starts, runs and ends on time.

Our Concert Sound Engineer is Ian Grandy. His job involves the choosing and placing of the individual microphones, and the mixing of the total sound from the sound board in the main house, where he also adds his effects wizardry to enhance the off-stage sound. Also as Crew Co-ordinator, Ian looks after the book-keeping and organizational needs of the crew.

Alex’s personal man is Liam Birt, who, as Stage Right Technician, is responsible for the set-up and maintenance of all his amplification and effects equipment. He also choreographs the tight guitar changes Alex requires, assisted by his look alike cohort Jack Secret (a.k.a. Tony Geranios), who is also the guitar maintenance man, and keeps the instruments in tune during the show. Tony also sets up and maintains the synthesizers for both Alex and Geddy.

Skip Gildersleeve is Geddy’s right hand man, as Stage Left Technician. Better known to friends and fans alike as the Slider, he is the one who sets up and maintains all of Geddy’s guitars and amplifiers, effecting his instrument changes, and on-stage needs.

Larry Allen appears nightly as Centre Stage Technician, setting up and meticulously maintaining the drum kit. He also is responsible for getting the sticks and assorted mallets into Neil’s hands in time for his changes. Larry also serves as the Official Tour Shravis.

Our films are made by a man from New York called Nick Prince, and our projectionist is Harry Dilman.

Those daring drivers are George Hoadley, Pat Lynes, Arthur “Mac” MacLear, and Tom Whittaker.

Concert Sound by National Sound, Springfield, Va.
Technicians—Tom Linthicum, Terry Ward, and Greg Connolly
Lighting by See Factor Industries, Inc., New York City
Thanks also to: Fanfare Sound, Chicago/Electrosound P.A., U.K./Len Wright Travel, U.K./See Factor Trucking, New York City/Edwin Shirley Trucking, U.K.
Management is by Ray Danniels and Vic Wilson, SRO Productions, Toronto, Canada

Booking Agencies

Canada—The Agency, Toronto
United States—American Talent International, New York City
United Kingdom—Bron Agency, London

Correspondence—P.O. Box 640, Thornhill, Ontario, Canada L3T 4A5

Alex LIfeson

My amplifiers are three Hiwatt 100’s spread over four 4×12 Hiwatt cabinets and one Leslie cabinet, with one spare amplifier and two spare cabinets. A Fender J.B.L. Twin Reverb is used for primary p.a. miking.

My guitars are one each Gibson ES335, Gibson ES355, Gibson Les Paul Standard, Gibson Custom Double-Neck, custom built Pyramid, Fender Stratocaster, Roland Guitar Synthesizer, Gibson Dove, Gibson J-55, Gibson B45-12, Gibson C-60 classical, and a Ramirez classical. I also play a set of Moog Taurus pedals.

The effects I use are three Rolands 301 Space Echo’s, one Roland chorus, an Electric Mistress, a Morley volume pedal, a Cry Baby Wah Wah, a Maestro parametric filter, Ashley pre-amps for the acoustic guitars, and a custom build effects board designed by L.B., and built by Steele-Power Supply.

Neil Peart

My drums are all by Slingerland, with the inner surface of the wooden shells treated with a process called Vibra-Fibing. This consists of a thin layer of glass fibre and resin, which cuts of two 24″ bass drums, 6″,8″,10″, and 12″ concert toms, 12″, 13″, 15″, and 18″ tom-toms, and a 5″x14″ wood shell snare drum. All cymbals are by Avedis Zildjian, with the exception of an 18″ Chinese cymbal. The Zildjians are 6″ and 8″ splash, two 16″, one 18″ and one 20″ crash cymbals, and 22″ ride, a pair of 13″ high-hits, and 18″ pang and a 20″ China type.

In the percussion department are orchestra bells, tubular bells, wind chimes, cratoles, timbales, tympani, gong, temple blocks, bell tree, triangle, and melodic cowbells.

For heads I use Remo black dots on the snare and bass drums, Ludwig silver dots on the concert toms and timbales, and Evans Looking Glass (top), and Speed King pedals, and Tama and Pearl stands. I use Pro-Mark 747 drumsticks with the vanish sanded off the gripping area.

Geddy Lee

I use two Rickenbacker 4001 basses, one Rickenbacker 4002 bass, one custom-modified Fender Precision, one custom Rickenbacker double-neck, incorporating a 4001 bass and a twelve-string. All my basses are fitted with Badass bridges and Roto-Sound strings, and a Roland Chorus is used on the guitar.

My amps are two BGW 750-B’s, through two Ashley pre-amps, into two 2×15 Teal design cabinets, and two Ampeg V4B 2×15 cabinets. All cabinets are fitted with JBL K140 speakers. I also use a Fender Twin Reverb for guitar.

My synthesizer set-up consists of a Mini-Moog, Moog Taurus pedals, an Oberheim eight-voice polyphonic, and a Roland Space Echo.

~ by rvkeeper on March 12, 2011.

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