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An Evening with Alex Lifeson from Rush

If you’ve ever seen the documentary on RUSH called Beyond the Lighted Stage, what I have to say will not surprise you. Alex Lifeson is the real deal. Amicable, prompt, enthusiastic, funny, accomodating--a class act. He had told a mutual friend he wanted to do The Electric Croude--and so he did--even on his vacation. For someone who has been through the media for 45 years, you’d never know it. Thoughtful to every question posed--even one I’d been waiting to ask for nearly 30 years!

Guitar players by and large are great people...sorry, I'm biased :) And in nearly 30 years of doing the Croude, I’ve only encountered one prima donna attitude. Alex would never be in that category. What separates his playing from so many other virtuosi of electric guitardom is the unexpected surprise of every solo. While so many others have great--but predictable--patterns, that’s something never applicable to this maestro of the 6-strings. Image wise--picture a cat falling off a high place--and seeing this in slow motion--and feline poetry rights itself perfectly on landing. That is one way to describe an Alex Lifeson solo. It may be angular and melodic and as I told him, still gives me chills 20-30 years later hearing them. Just like musical confetti thrown and settling exactly where it should be.

Music magazines do what they do best--talk about music. We did that, too. But his interests are all over the map and I wanted to explore that--he’s a licensed pilot, talented cook, inventor, painter, golfer--apart from being one of THE greatest guitarists who has ever touched the instrument--both as soloist and rythem player. Being a perfect stranger we talked at ease--discussing paella to Palmer emulators.

As I told Alex on the day of the interview, I couldn’t find my watch that morning but never forgot seeing them for the first time in NYC in November 12, 1977 at The Palladium. I will never forgot this concert nor my fave interview with an electric guitar player who is much more than that. Here’s the set list from that concert when Rush headlined a bill with Cheap Trick and UFO:

  1. Bastille Day
  2. Lakeside Park
  3. By-Tor & The Snow Dog
  4. Xanadu
  5. A Farewell to Kings
  6. Something for Nothing
  7. Cygnus X-1
  8. Anthem
  9. Closer to the Heart
  10. 2112 Part I: Overture
  11. 2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
  12. 2112 Part III: Discovery
  13. 2112 Part IV: Presentation
  14. 2112 Part VI: Soliloquy
  15. 2112 Part VII: Grand Finale
  16. Working Man
  17. Fly by Night
  18. In the Mood
  19. Drum Solo
  20. Encore: Cinderella Man