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Rush in Tampa Amphitheater

by June 30, 2005


Rush being on their 30th Anniversary tour made their stop in Tampa in the new Ford Amphitheater Friday, July 30 th . This is the first time in Florida that they have played in an outdoor arena and I believe their first tour. Before I begin my comments on the concert let me state my position on Rush. I’ve been a Rush fan for 27 of their 30 years and have been going to their concerts for 26 years. I own all of their studio work which has always been excellent and their music and lyrics are sincerely unique. I am such a strong fan I even got a tattoo based on one of their stories. Any criticisms that follow are made with sheer pain.

The Venue

The new Tampa Amphitheater has 9900 reserved seats plus 10,100 festival lawn seats. They tout that the stage can be seen from every position. Here is what they have to say about their seating:

One of the most spectacular aspects about Ford Amphitheater at the Florida State Fairgrounds is the fact that there isn't a bad seat in the house. Whether you choose to spread a blanket out on our gently sloping festival lawn or select a reserved seat in our pavilion seating area, you are guaranteed a great view of the action on the stage.

If they are talking about no obstructed views than they are correct but the steepness of the seating was not at all what I expected. I was constantly looking around heads as far a three rows in front of me to see the band members. Our seats were at the back reserved seating area near the center but that didn’t matter because the steepness didn’t change. The people working the seating sections were a bit ridiculous. I walked all the way down my section to the center isle to go to the refreshment area and they wouldn’t let me exit there even though there were people checking tickets for every seating section. They wanted me to walk all the way back up to exit the section; it made no sense.

Stage Setup

I’m not sure who is responsible for stage set up, the band or the arena but I believe that the band brings their equipment and sets it up. All of the speakers were hung above the stage in an arc array but they should have had speakers hung along the top of the shell. The result of not having more speakers along the top of the shell was wavering sound caused by the wind blowing through the arena. This is a large open venue and is much too big to have speakers only at the stage. The first section of seating probably did not experience the wavering sound. The one good thing about the open arena was lack of distortion. Rush, like most rock bands, plays loud and in all of their prior indoor concerts the distortion levels were extremely high because of poor acoustics and sound bouncing all around the arenas.

The Concert

There was no new music for Rush to play although they just released a CD of them playing covers of other bands music. So the set list was basically just like the Vapor Trails tour with some of the covers thrown in. The concert opened with a video of Jerry Stiller (George's father on Seinfeld and the Arthur on King of Queens) introducing the band. It was always amazing that three band members could produce so much sound and after 30 years they still could. Geddy Lee still amazes me when I see him with a bass guitar hanging over his shoulder, a microphone at his mouth and a keyboard at his fingers as he effortlessly alternates his talents.

Although Alex Lifeson is not a renowned guitarist he is damn good. He can play just as fast now as he always could. I was particularly impressed to see him play is double neck guitar for Xanadu which was played very well.

Something I’ve discovered recently about Alex is his sense of humor which he presented during La Villa Strangiato. Neil Peart being arguably the best rock drummer of all time was pretty much as good as always except he didn’t seem to have his heart into the drum solo as much as he has in past concerts.

They brought back “That Darned Dragon” in the videos and coupled it with some good pyrotechnics. Another nice touch for the 30th Anniversary was they had several pictures of themselves from the past years.

All in all, aside from a few complaints about the venue and set up, it was a great concert. It was really good to see my favorite band again after all these years and I hope there will be more to come.


About the author:
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Ken Stein is a contributing writer and reviewer for Audioholics and he really REALLY likes his speakers (which he should, since he spent countless hours hand-crafting them himself.) Ken is an engineer with FedEx and applies his diligent attention to detail to his speaker and electronics reviews here at Audioholics.

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