I am still experimenting with the rhythms of my days, the early up and at ’em being very productive while not quite tallying with the late returns home after RetroChic gigs. Late opening might now be the norm up and down the land, but it means late finishes for bands, so even though the venue was only half an hour away on Saturday night I was still not back through the door until long past the witching hour.
The thought of getting up barely four hours after slumping into bed is decidedly not what a break is about, so I think that some days will have perforce to have later starts than others. Still, it seems worth it when despite equipment failures and a couple of unexpected left turns in some songs one of the punters cries out You guys are the best! although alcohol is no help to critical evaluation, if truth be told.
Just before we went on I glimpsed the news that Neil Peart had died, the drummer of Rush. Rolling Stone placed him fourth in their list of the greatest drummers of all time, behind only Ginger Baker, Keith Moon and John Bonham, and I think that one needs to bear in mind that those three are always going to fill the podium positions, whoever comes after.
Peart, however, for all his fearsome technical skill (and he never stopped taking lessons, kids!), did something the other guys did not, namely penning the lyrics for his band, prompting that cruel remark that Rush is the band you end up with if you let the drummer write the songs. Thanks to him, though, the band dealt with all types of issues that other rock bands barely touch, from science fiction to philosophy, from equal rights to the influence of new media.
Rush are a band often admired rather than loved, and many point to Geddy Lee’s voice as a barrier, but I do love their album Vapor Trails, which was initially released in a sonically fuzzy version before being cleaned up, the cover background switched from black to white. Peart had been through the most desperate of tragedies in the years before this album, his daughter dying in a car crash and his wife then succumbing to cancer a few months later, and he sought to cope with it by getting on his motorbike and riding wherever the mood took him until he felt it was time to stop, which turned out to be some 55,000 miles later.
The first track of that album, One Little Victory, speaks of his return to life and to his band, but it is the gentle, soothing and haunting Ghost Rider that I love most on that album, as we are taken on those long rides to wherever with the broken-hearted Peart. He also wrote eloquently on his blog, as one would expect from somebody who was the prime lyricist for one of the most successful bands in history, and eventually found peace in a new family, but I shall regret not having seen them in concert.