RUSH Wandering the Face of the Earth – The Official Touring History 1968-2015
I’ve seen Rush (the best power trio, the best rock band, with the best drummer, best bass player and best lead guitarist in the world – yet I remain totally unbiased!) more times than I can remember. Back when there were paper tickets, I’d keep the stubs as a reminder. Now in addition to the stubs (and thanks to my lovely daughter’s gift) I have this massive book – RUSH: WANDERING THE FACE OF THE EARTH – that contains their complete touring history!
RUSH Wandering the Face of The Earth was published in October 2019. Neal Peart died in January 2020. The timing of this retrospective of a band that meant so much to so many could not have been better.
The authors of RUSH Wandering the Face of The Earth are Skip Daly and Eric Hansen, two Rush super fans. Their bios belie their ages – Skip’s first Rush concert was on the Presto tour, and Eric became a fan after Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures. This one of those occasions when being older is definitely better – as you’ll hopefully agree after seeing my ticket stub collection! :) Eric also started the Rush fan site Power Windows.
Each chapter in their book contains one tour. Most tours were, as usual, after an album was released. In addition to a paragraph and details of each tour date, there are a few pages of description, quotes from the band and other folks on the tour, and quite a few photos.
This book reads more like a history of the band combined with a guide to each gig.
Of course, the first thing everyone does when getting this book is look up the concerts they are sure they attended and try to piece together the memories of the ones they think they attended. It’s a 45 year Rush history, and RUSH Wandering The Face Of The Earth has the notes, locations and set lists (plus a lot of photos) to fill in the gaps when your memory is as full and old as mine. I’ve used the book’s table of contents, which is broken out by tour, and added the dates from the gigs listed to help with my own timeline. That’s one of the best things about this book – it allows the reader to stroll memory lane with the band’s timeline juxtaposed with their own.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Les Claypool of Primus
Introduction: A Master Class in 45 Short Years by Howard Ungerleider
Chapter 1: ORIGINS (Tour History 1965 – February 1974)
My favorite quote from the pages describing this part of the Rush touring is how the name of the band came about, from the original drummer John Rutsey’s older brother Bill.
“I can’t remember any of the silly names that they were coming up with, but I was sitting upstairs and I just finally had heard enough, and so I shouted downstairs ‘Just call the band Rush!’ And they said ‘Rush? What’s that?’ And I said ‘You know, like drugs!….Rush!’. So that’s exactly how it happened.” (pg. 21).
The very first concert listed in the book is September 6, 1968. I was almost 7 but for some reason my parents did not take me to this concert. It might have had something to do with the fact that it was in Toronto and we were not.
Chapter 2: THE RUSH TOUR (Tour History March 1974 – December 1974)
Rush’s first performance in the United States – May 18, 1974, in East Lansing, Michigan. I was a bit older by then, but still did not make this red-letter date. (pg. 45). They hit Texas in October 4, 1974 with a performance in Houston (pg. 54). There are some great notes in this chapter on the gig where Rush opened for Sha Na Na…and got booed (pg. 51).
Chapter 3: THE FLY BY NIGHT TOUR (Tour History January 1975 -June 1975)
Chapter 4: THE CARESS OF STEEL TOUR (Tour History July 1975 – January 1976)
There is discussion in the pages describing this tour of how the album was not well received and how it was a low point for the band. I still love and listen to this album, and The Fountain of Lamneth is one of my favorites for contemplation.
This chapter has the first mention I can find in the book of a tour that came to a town where I lived (San Antonio, Texas, the rock and roll capital of the world) is on page 63 (October 28, 1975). Rush played at Randy’s Rodeo, a country and western place on Bandera Highway that used to be a bowling alley. The blurb for the concert mentions KISS-FM and DJ Lou Roney who I listened all through high school and college. Our family had just moved to San Antonio, and I’m pretty certain my mom did not let my 13-year-old self go to this concert.
Chapter 5: THE 2112 TOUR (Tour History February 1976 – July 1976)
There’s a description here of the recording of Rush’s first live album ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE at Massey Hall in June 1976. This and the live recording of Working Man is what hooked me on Rush forever.
Rush came back through San Antonio June 7, 1976. Thin Lizzy was the opening act. I’m pretty sure I missed this one.
Chapter 6: THE ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE TOUR (Tour History August 1976 – June 1977)
Artful Dodger and Leslie West opened for Rush in San Antonio January 8th and 9th, 1977 (pg. 120). I’m pretty sure this was my first Rush concert, as I can still remember two things: how small the guitar looked in Leslie West’s hands, and yelling for Rush to play “Working Man” (as I had worn out my brother’s copy of ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE playing that song (sorry, Terry)).
Chapter 7: THE FAREWELL TO KINGS TOUR (Tour History August 1977 – May 1978)
One of the most awesome concerts ever – October 22-23, 1977 with UFO opening the show. Max Webster played as well, and hearing the all of the songs on that album live was tremendous (pg. 141). According to the notes, the Municipal Auditorium held 5,800 people.
The show that I have the oldest paper ticket stub for is mentioned on page 169. It featured supporting act April Wine, who (according to my trust ticket stubs) we saw as a headliner in San Antonio two years later. This show was at the Convention Center Arena.
Update: see my brother’s comment below. He still has the t-shirt from that concert. A picture of it that he sent me is included below.
Chapter 9: THE SUMMER TOUR ’79 (Tour History August 1979 – September 1979)
Another paper ticket stub marks the concert from February 3, 1980 (pg. 186) again at the lovely San Antonio Convention Center Arena. Max Webster, fellow Canadian band, was the opening act.
Chapter 11: THE FALL 1980 TOUR (Tour History September 1980 – October 1980)
The last of the paper ticket stubs I have to jog my memory – April 11, 1981 (pg. 208). There’s a paragraph in the book that says immediately after this show the band flew to Florida to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle, then flew back for another gig in Fort Worth.
Chapter 13: THE EXIT . . . STAGE LEFT TOUR (Tour History October 1981 – December 1981)
Chapter 14: THE DEEP SOUTH SPRING TRAINING TOUR (Tour History April 1982)
When I first saw the name of this tour I instantly thought that it was a Geddy boondoggle to get close to baseball spring training! It was, however a warm-up to get in shape for the Signals recording sessions (pg. 222)
Chapter 15: THE NEW WORLD TOUR (Tour History September 1982 – may 1983)
March 2, 1983 – no paper ticket to remind me, but Alex with short hair and Golden Earring (“Radar Love”) as the opening act are reminders of this gig (pg. 237 – 238). There is a great set of photos on page 230 of the boys with their mothers and fathers.
Chapter 16: RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, 1983 (Tour History September 1983)
Chapter 17: THE GRACE UNDER PRESSURE TOUR (Tour History May 1984 – November 1984)
The Texxas Jam. June 8, 1984. (pg. 252). I’d moved to Houston in January 1984. We did not stay for Ozzy :).
Chapter 18: SPRING TRAINING 1985 (Tour History March 1985)
This tour did indeed allow Geddy to hit a few spring training games (pg. 261).
Chapter 19: THE POWER WINDOWS TOUR (Tour History December 1985 – May 1986)
January 15-16, 1986 at The Summit in Houston. (pg. 271)
Chapter 20: THE HOLD YOUR FIRE TOUR (Tour History October 1987 – May 1988)
Chapter 21: THE PRESTO TOUR (Tour History February 1990 – June 1990)
February 26 at the Summit with Mr. Big (pg. 294)
Chapter 22: THE ROLL THE BONES TOUR (Tour History October 1991 – June 1992)
The description of this tour mentions Primus as an opening act (pg. 304. Les Claypool, the singer and bassist for Primus, wrote the Foreword to this book). Primus is starting a tour this year (2020) where they plan to play the entire Farewell to Kings album! They will play at the excellent ACL-Live venue in downtown Austin May 29, 2020!
Chapter 23: THE COUNTERPARTS TOUR (Tour History January 1994 – May 1994)
The chapters also talk about the set lists for each tour. This one states that this tour “marked the first tour that featured nothing from Rush’s first four albums – and the only tour ever to skip 2112 completely.” (pg 320). It also mentions the band Primus again, saying that their jamming on the Hemispheres tracks during sound check convinced Rush to bring back parts of that album on this tour.
Chapter 24: THE TEST FOR ECHO TOUR (Tour History October 1996 – June 1997)
After this tour was when Neil temporarily retired after his daughter was killed in a car accident and his wife later died of cancer. Five long years passed.
Chapter 25: THE VAPOR TRAILS TOUR. (Tour History June 2002 – November 2002, includes the Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto concert July 30, 2003)
There’s a great description here when the trio shared a moment at their first concert back on stage (pg. 347). This tour also included the November 23, 2002 Rio concert that was filmed for the Rush in Rio DVD.
Chapter 26: THE R30 TOUR (Tour History May 2004 – September 2004)
“Every album was represented in the R30 set list save for Presto.” (pg. 364) Though there was no album of new music to tour on, this tour was right after the album Feedback which featured covers of classics.
Chapter 27: THE SNAKES & ARROWS TOUR (Tour History June 2007 – October 2007)
Deservedly slowing down from their relentless touring pace, the band had three years between tours.
Chapter 28: THE SNAKES & ARROWS LIVE TOUR (Tour History April 2008 – July 2008)
The band’s Colbert Show appearance, is in the tour list on pages 404-405.
Chapter 29: THE TIME MACHINE TOUR (Tour History June 2010 – July 2011)
Chapter 30: THE CLOCKWORK ANGELS TOUR (Tour History September 2012 – August 2013)
This concert tour was the first time I dragged my lovely wife to see the boys, at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York. I had tickets to see them in Houston, but when I bought them I did not realize that we had already booked a trip out-of-town. This concert with the few string section for the Clockwork Angels tunes, was outstanding. And when Alex’s feed to his amp malfunctioned, we got to see Alex dance a gig. Full notes (and a pic of me holding the set list) here.
We were in Denver so that I could acclimate for a run (the Pikes Peak ascent). We were staying downtown, testing out high-rise living (which we now do full-time) and were within walking distance of the Pepsi center. I gotten the concert dates screwed up (again thought we’d see them in Houston) so the day of the concert I called the arena – and ended up with FLOOR SEATS. It was yet another flashback to the days in high school when we’d wait in line for floor tickets. The final concert (with my wife in tow yet again) was once again one of the best shows I’d seen.
Besides getting floor seats by calling the arena the day of, the best thing was getting paper ticket stubs again!
RUSH Wandering the Face of the Earth is not just a great tour book. As each chapter went through I went back and listened to the albums that were represented by the tour described in that chapter. Music always bring back memories. With Neil Peart’s passing, the R40 really was indeed the last time we will see the trio live. But they certainly live on in their music, and in awesome remembrances like this book.
Just look at those ticket prices!!!!