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Clockwork Angels

Veteran rockers Rush brought their steampunk-themed concept album to Toyota Center December 2.

Live Shots

Most bands could never manage to come up with a concept album, let alone more than one. And certainly, any band that did have the chutzpah to make a concept album for their nineteenth release wouldn't think of doing it nearly in its entirety on tour.

Most bands aren't Rush.

Despite being more than 40 years into their tenure as rock and roll's most underappreciated (yet still insanely popular) nerds, bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart still found a way to keep things fresh during their two-hour-plus show at Toyota Center.

Geddy Lee and Rush's latest tour leaned heavily on their synthesizer-heavy 1980s albums.
Groovehouse
Geddy Lee and Rush's latest tour leaned heavily on their synthesizer-heavy 1980s albums.
Dave Brubeck on the cover of 2003's The Essential Dave Brubeck.
Dave Brubeck on the cover of 2003's The Essential Dave Brubeck.

But this was not a show for the casual fan, as the band played almost all their latest release, the steampunk concept album Clockwork Angels, a bit differently from their hit-laden previous show in Houston in 2010, when they did their best-selling album Moving Pictures from start to finish.

Much of Rush's success is owed to the fact that the band has always chosen to go down its own path, and this night was no different, from the multiple drum solos to the string section (a first for a band that has always prided itself on playing everything as a three-piece, despite some seriously complicated keyboard arrangements).

Perhaps most surprising was how heavily the show leaned on songs from the band's synthesizer-laden series of albums in the 1980s — a period that caused some fans to grumble at the absence of guitars. (Lifeson has even said this wasn't his favorite era for the band.)

But from the opening, "Subdivisions" from 1982's Signals, through "The Big Money," "Force Ten," "Grand Designs," "Territories" and "The Analog Kid," it was apparent the direction the night would be going. Even "Bravado" and "Where's My Thing?," from Roll the Bones, were included in that first hour, broken up only by Moving Pictures single "Limelight" and "Far Cry" from Snakes and Arrows.

But what Rush may have lacked in some of the older classic hits, they more than made up for with their rendering of Clockwork Angels. Even though this was their last U.S. tour date, the band seemed relaxed and focused on "Caravan," "The Wreckers" and beautiful closer "The Garden." Fans ate it up, singing every lyric and mimicking every drum fill.

The sound and light show, as per usual with Rush, was an integral part of their performance, particularly the Clockwork section. The stage set, videos and animations leaned heavily on the steampunk influence of the album artwork. A video featuring the band dressed as gnomes pranking a tax collector opened the string of songs from the record, and the multiple video screens, limited pyrotechnics and a massive lighting rig were all characters, filling out the plot of the story.
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Miles-Tones

RIP DAVE BRUBECK
The "Take Five" jazz composer/bandleader was 91 years old.

By Chris Gray

Dave Brubeck, the professorial jazz pianist and composer whose No. 2 album Time Out was a standard of the Mad Men era, died December 5 at age 91, according to the Associated Press. Brubeck's manager, Russell Gloyd, told the AP that Brubeck died of heart failure on his way to a cardiologist's appointment near his home near Hartford, Connecticut. He would have been 92 the next day.

Brubeck was born on December 6, 1920, in Concord, California, the son of a cattle rancher and a mother who taught piano lessons. In college, where he intended to study veterinary science, the head of the zoology department told him, "Brubeck, your mind's across the lawn in the conservatory." His inability to read music caused a minor scandal at the school, now known as the University of the Pacific.

In WWII, Brubeck served in General George S. Patton's 3rd Army, and escaped the Battle of the Bulge by volunteering to play at a Red Cross-organized concert. The regular jazz group he formed shortly thereafter, known as "The Wolfpack," was one of the first examples of racial integration in the U.S. military.

When he left the service, Brubeck studied at Oakland's Mills College with jazz-loving French composer Darius Milhaud. His albums from the 1950s, such as Jazz Goes to College, were enough to land him on the cover of Time in 1954, the second jazz musician to be so honored after Louis Armstrong. (Brubeck said he would rather have seen Duke Ellington on the cover.) He also worked in A&R for Bay Area label Fantasy Records, which later released Creedence Clearwater Revival's albums, and helped discover West Coast jazz artists such as Chet Baker.

Named for its unconventional time signatures, Time Out featured "Take Five" (written in 5/4 time, with a distinctive alto-sax riff played by Paul Desmond), which reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary Top 10 in 1961. Its success led Brubeck's quartet to release several other albums that made use of irregular time, including 1966's Time In. "Take Five" became his best-known tune, although other Brubeck compositions such as "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "For All We Know" were also popular.

In 1959, the same year Time Out was released, Brubeck's quartet — which at the time was the most successful jazz group in the United States — performed with the New York Philharmonic, and he would glide easily between jazz and classical for the rest of his career.

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