Rush live at the O2 arena, London, May 2013 – review

After a year of waiting having purchased our tickets back in April 2012 we finally arrived in London last night to see Rush perform on their Clockwork Angels tour at the O2 Arena in London.

Rush are one of our favourite bands, we’ve seen them three times before on their R30, Snakes and Arrows and Time machine tours in various venues including the SECC in Glasgow and the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. We have been marginally disappointed on occasions in the past due to poor sound systems at some of these venues although on each occasion the band have quite obviously been playing their collective asses off. I had therefore hoped that last nights gig would be the best yet sound wise given the way the O2 big their arena up on their own website, which to quote says:

The arena at The O2 truly creates a new benchmark in what both fan and performer can and should expect from a rock or pop concert in the UK. You will only see the world’s hottest and most sought after acts on this stage; Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, Scissor Sisters, Prince, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Take That… and what a way to enjoy them. With perfect sight-lines from every angle, crystal clear acoustics, obscenely comfy seating, wide concourses between aisles and a huge variety of snack and drink options to enjoy throughout the show. We’ve even put paid to that excruciatingly painful and frustrating tradition of the “fifty minute queue for the loo” by fitting 548 toilets.

This pretty much seems to say that the sound and venue would be good, at least better than Scotland’s SECC which is really just a giant metal shed and not the best venue for live music. However…. Last nights gig was by far the second worst live music experience we have paid for (The absolute worst was a gig by Alice in Chains a few years ago at a total dump in Govan, Glasgow, also funnily enough called the O2 where the sound engineer drove everything way up beyond distortion to the point where standing in front of a jet engine would have been more enjoyable).

From the moment we arrived I knew something was wrong. The doors which were supposed to open at 6 according to the ticket didn’t open until about half seven, so the concert started late, though not admittedly as late as anything involving Axl Rose. There were rumours of some kind of incident delaying the gig which were confirmed by one of the arena doorman when we left at the mid show break, and I have seen mention since of a Fox loose in the venue on other sites.

The interior of the O2 is certainly imposing, a massive cavernous space with 4 tiers of seats going up to the rafters probably several hundred feet in the air all round, a mighty distance to fall should you slip or trip on your way down the stairs to your hard plastic seat. The stage however was tiny for a venue of its size, the O2 has a capacity of 20,000 apparently. The PA and stage however looked no bigger than the system we have seen at venues half the size, all strung up in the lighting rig on thin looking wires. I don’t know whether the PA belonged to the house or whether it was brought by the band. The background pre show music being piped through the system, the usual mix of Genesis, Kansas, King Crimson and other stuff familiar to Rush concert goers was also barely audible through this system from where we were sitting, a portent of things to come.

As we sat waiting for the venue to fill up excited at the prospect of a good show for which for once we actually had a good view, eventually the house lights went down and the usual Rush pre gig comedy skit fired up on the screen. Problem was again we could hardly hear any of it, just an echoey mush. Then it ended and the opening keyboard chords of Subdivisions started pumping out, the band kicked off, the lights went up and… splat! The show rapidly went downhill from there.

Instead of the usual Rush powerful clear sound (and the promised ‘Crystal Clear Acoustics ) what we got was a muddy indecipherable roaring noise of harsh sounding guitar, keyboard, earth shattering subsonic bass, some drums (not the whole kit, mostly only a trebly snare and cymbals) and howling vocals all buried together in a wall of noise more reminiscent of a nearby hurricane than a premier rock band. Not one word Geddy Lee sang could be heard clearly, Neil Peart‘s usual needle sharp drum fills were lost completely in a wash of reverberation, and the bass was just a continuous rumble, any and all notes lost to the wind. As for Alex Lifeson‘s guitar, it was lost somewhere in the ether, only really cutting through on his solos, but painfully so as the noise screeched through at such an intense high pitched shrill volume that the only thing it really cut through were probably the ear drums of every dog in the East end of London, as well as our own. Painful.

As the first half progressed we sat desperately hoping the sound would clean up, that maybe someone somewhere would inform the sound engineer that the band sounded like a bag of drowning cats pumped through 100,000 watts of PA, these were some great songs that were being played somewhere out front after all. However it did not for the entirety of the first set. Song after song of inaudible vocals, gut rumbling bass and Peart’s whipcrack echoing snare drum, the only audible part of his kit washed over us. I found myself getting more and more annoyed, not to mention deafer as the distorted and unwelcome high frequencies pouring forth from the dangling PA took their toll.

Later as the first drum solo of the night kicked off the problems remained the same. The kit was awash with reverb and distortion from a clearly over driven PA, the sound bouncing off of the back of the venue creating a chronic slapback. The crowd obviously wearing beer muffs cheered on nonetheless, and as the band came back in after the drum solo I found that I could no longer make out what song they were playing. They later kicked into the Analogue kid, one of my favourite Rush songs, and it was ruined by the fact that what is a simple guitar, bass and drums rock tune with nice flashy fast riffs was rendered a reverb soaked murky mess in which you couldn’t separate guitar, bass, drums or vocals from the treacle mix. Lastly they played Far cry, and the only clear sound of the night emerged from the murk, the usual massive pyrotechnic spiralling firework bang at the end of the second ‘Circuits Blowing’ line (the first time they did that song at the SECC years ago I just about s**t myself at that point!).

After that the house lights went up and we headed outside wondering whether to bother with the second half. I had been looking forward to the performance of Clockwork Angels with the string ensemble, but once outside, woolly eared and very pis**d off, I didn’t want to go and sit through another hour and a half of ear splitting noise. So we decided to call it a night and head off to get something to eat down in ‘Entertainment Avenue’ more on which later…

All in all it was a completely disappointing night and represents probably the last ‘arena’ gig we will ever fork out for.

As for the O2 itself what can I say? This is our first and probably last visit to this soulless end of the line overblown marquee. I remember the controversy this place whipped up when first built as the ‘millennium dome’ as our government of the day saw fit to dump truck loads of public money into what appears to be little more than a giant grubby tent squatting over a concrete carpark. Today it houses the worst sounding music venue we have ever been to, and that is saying something coming from someone who has previously been to numerous gigs at Scotland’s very own gig spoiling barn the SECC on the muddy (sound wise) banks of the Clyde.

Not only does it house the worst sounding music venue, it is also stuffed full of the typical usual suspect high street fast food eateries along the outskirts of the O2 arena itself which the owners have jokingly called ‘entertainment avenue’. The only difference between the branches of these chain eateries in the O2 is that they charge way over the odds in the O2 than they do on most high streets. The same can be said in the arena itself, nearly £3 for a normal bottle of oasis fruit juice? RIPOFF!
Some adjectives to describe ‘entertainment avenue and the arena’ could include ‘Cold’, ‘Soulless’, ‘Concrete’, ‘Expensive’, ‘Windy’, etc.

As for being ‘Entertaining’, well that adjective is really more apt for the outside North Greenwich tube station where we actually managed to hear some Rush music with a bit of clarity, a happy busker standing at the top of the escalator, at the exit doors from the station to the O2 playing an instrumental of ‘Closer to the Heart’ to a backing tape which with his single guitar and two small tinny speakers on the floor at his feet sounded a thousand times better than the real thing in Thunderdome outside with several thousand watts of PA at their disposal, a lot of our money and a sound engineer who I suspect was either unconscious drooling over the mixing desk or just somewhere else entirely while the sound of Mad Max and Masterblaster battling it out continued on stage.

So, where does the fault lie with the sound issues on this gig? To be honest I am not entirely sure. Did the band bring their own PA and engineer, or was the PA part of the O2? I would really like to know. If it belonged to the O2 then the fault lies with them and possibly the sound engineer. If however it was the Bands sound system then to be honest they should really be ashamed of the sound quality they are offering to those fans who have paid out a lot of money to come and see their favourite band live, and at the very least the sound engineer should really be for the high jump for presenting the band in such an awful light. Other than that I have to say that despite the awful sound it was quite obvious that the band were actually playing really well, they continue to be at the top of their game as musicians unlike pretty much all of their peers from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s etc. Its just a pity we couldn’t hear it.

Either way, having had the ‘Evening with Rush’ spoiled I would really love some of our money back, and then I might instead invest in the inevitable live DVD when it comes out and enjoy the concert properly on a decent sound system and wide screen at home.

So if you are considering shelling out for future gigs at the O2 arena, think long, think hard and maybe consider saving your money and not going as its bloody awful, and really disappointing if you travel a long distance to see something you have been looking forward to for over a year only to have it spoiled by inexcusably bad sound, and ridiculously expensive drinks. I have it on good authority that certain other gigs have been marred by similar problems. If however you are happy to slap the booze down your throat, strap on several thousand watts of chronically band sound and try your hardest to pretend it was actually a good night as you race toward alcohol soft middle age, then please, don’t let me stop you.

Now we are off to see the Happy Mondays in Bristol at the Harbour, with any luck they will hopefully sound much better than last nights ‘ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated’ long distance runaround.


The Happy Mondays in Bristol were great. With a tiny stage and several thousand less watts of power than Rush had to play with, and only a few minutes of soundcheck on a stage shared with various acts (including 808 State) prior to their headline performance, they and whomever the sound engineer was managed to fill an open air concrete space on Bristols harbour-side amphitheatre with a really impressive sound, and performed brilliantly. The live sound was well mixed, loud, powerful and clear. Hundreds of pounds wasted on Rush vs a relatively cheap but highly enjoyable gig. Corporate arena rock sucks.

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About Mike Farrell-Deveau
Mike Farrell-Deveau is a Law graduate, Writer (Fiction, Copy and Journal), Business Professional and Musician with interests in Art, Politics, Human Rights, Social Justice, Access to Justice, Criminal Law, Employment Law, Clinical Negligence and making a lot of noise on an electric guitar.

23 Responses to Rush live at the O2 arena, London, May 2013 – review

  1. DT says:

    I was there last night and I share your disappointment with the poor sound quality. Especially Geddy Lee’s bass playing where his awesome technique was almost completely lost in the noise.

    Having seen a number of bands there in the past (Queen, Roger Waters, Peter Gabriel etc) I haven’t noticed the sound being quite that bad before. May have been the PA or it may be the engineers but given the effort the band obviously put into the quality of the staging overall this would be surprising.

    Overall I enjoyed the evening. They are a class act.

    BTW I don’t share your opinion on the quality of the venue overall including the eating options. OK they are all chains (what else would you expect?) but name me another major UK venue where the facilities come close. I was at MENA last week to see Eric Clapton and I have to say it was shocking in comparison to the O2.

  2. timcoombe says:

    I sympathise with you. I had a similar experience with Rush at Wembley Arena a few years ago. The strange thing is the next time I saw them was at the o2 and the sound was great. So I think it’s down to whoever provides the rig rather than just the venue.

  3. simon says:

    The sound always seems to be the problem, and is especially true for where you sit, as is such a big arena. I was in the 16 th row, on the floor and the sound was great, and Geddy sounding better than ever! I can imagine towards the back, the sound will get all mashed up! No idea who to blame, by I know that there were the same problems on the R30 tour

  4. Chas says:

    Spot on comments regarding sound quality. I think the 2nd half was actually slightly better, someone clearly managed to pull their finger out during the interval. Saw Roger Waters / The Wall at the O2 a couple of years ago and that was fantastic (including the sound) so the venue clearly can do it when it wants to. Maybe Rush needed to do several nights of of gigs at the O2 as “warm-ups” for the PA team?

  5. tom says:

    we had seats in block 409 , cant fault the sound really . I am sorry to hear that you did not have the same experience. my problem as always with Rush is the crowd , typical and non responsive no movement , both in front and behind were people sleeping !!!! for gods sake stay at home , the public could easily have been watching a re-run of a Hugh Grant movie …..Rush was Fantastic , the Venue was ok , crowd could easily have been here by mistake thinking they were gonna watch the new star-trek movie !!!! Rush , please play a smaller venue next time , and for all of you who fell asleep or didn’t move during the concert .. next time stay at home and watch the video!!!!

  6. Cliff Blanchette says:

    I was by the sound engineers / mixing desk and it sounded great there .No matter what you say they are brilliant musicians and it would take a really bad system to mask their brilliance . My last time seeing Rush I was at the back high up and the sound there was not as good.On this occasion my ears were ringing a tiny bit which is where I think they should be ,so I see no problem with volume.I do wonder about paying £85.00 for a ticket.

  7. I totally agree, i would never deny that they are three of the greatest musicians out there, and one of my favourite acts, I wouldn’t have travelled country wide on numerous occasions to see them otherwise.
    I have been checking out some of the videos uploaded to youtube of the show and it seems clear that some had good sound and some didn’t. This tinny poor quality video here for example taken on a phone by the sounds of it is the closest example I can find to describe what we were hearing in the O2. It is also probably about ten times better in sound quality than what we were hearing there from the PA on the night.

    I think in retrospect it is simply luck of the draw when you buy tickets to these events whether you will get good sound or not. But when you are paying substantial sums of money, not just for tickets but also to travel and stay in hotels, pay for food and drink etc, it becomes an unacceptable gamble hence the reason why I will never pay to go to an arena concert again regardless of who is playing. For the money spent we could have gone on bloody holiday for a few days!

  8. Harris Al says:

    I was at the front of the high seating at the back, right in front of the stage. The sound was terrible. The first half the bass was shaking my insides. The second half the top end sound was bouncing all around and distorting the proper sound. I travelled down from Scotland as I refuse to go to the SECC. Last time I went to Newcastle to see Rush, and I think that was a far superior venue. Even with the bad sound it was worth going to. I would never leave a Rush concert half way through. Also I would not walk in and out of a concert just to replenish my lager intake. I am sure the person next to me missed about half the concert just buying lager, and in doing so made the rest of want to throw him off the balcony just for being a pain in the ……..

  9. David S says:

    Completely agree we were block 111 row T, possibly the worst sound I have ever experienced in 30 years of gigs, the set list was great, the band were clearly performing to the highest level and the show itself; lighting, animations were of supreme quality. When we pay £250 for a night out including travel plus snacks and drinks we expect better. The O2 should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for allowing such shoddy sound to completely ruin what should have been an awesome night. I doubt they will be though as I can’t imagine for a moment they actually care about the people whose hard earned cash they are pocketing.

  10. Mk says:

    This is a sad thing to read. When I saw them at the O2 in London two years ago, I was on the upper level and the sound was very similar to what you describe – awful, very boomy and very difficult to pick out individual instruments and nuances. When Geddy played his little ‘self indulgence’ solo it may as well have been a toddler hitting the strings randomly with a drum stick…it was shocking. No end of people went to the customer services desk during the show to complain about it, but it would appear that these comments didn’t get back to Brad Maddix at FOH because it didn’t any get better as the show progressed. I was really looking forward to the show tonight at the O2, and I did have a better ticket (level 1) What I don’t understand is how this happens. There is a fantastic series of behind the scenes videos available on youtube that explain different aspects of the show, including some very detailed comments from Brad () about setting up the PA and tuning it etc. (using pink noise, and subdivisions) – it even shows him at different points in a big arena tuning the PA….so one would assume that a. this is done at every venue and b. a note of settings is made ready for the next time Rush play at that same venue….at least as a starting point. I don’t get it at all, and its not as if the tickets are cheap either, but what do I know. No doubt at FOH it sounds superb and I guess tickets near the desk would be the best ones to get for a good sound (plus you get to see Howard do his thing on the lights) but some of us have to put up with an inferior audio experience.
    I’m so glad I got level 1 tickets even if it cost me more than I could afford but the sound was much better…still the bass was too boomy, but I was pretty impressed really. I noticed that level 4 was well below capacity and that may be partly to do with people’s experiences of the venue in the past

  11. Paul s says:

    i was lucky enough to see the gig sitting in the corporate boxes. the sound was ok from where i sat but certainly could have been a little sharper.
    it is a mystery as to why the sound can not be better at these venues, we pay enough money and should expect a PA capable of filling the vast venues with clear sound.
    It did not however spoil my night, great band, great set list and light show etc.

    if i had spent best part of £100 on a ticket i may have been as dissapointed and some of those who have commented here,

  12. Cal says:

    I have only been to the 02 arena twice, both times to see Rush, and it seems that the sound is entirely down to pot luck as to where your seat is. On the Time Machine tour 2 years ago, we had seats high up in the upper tier to the left of the stage and the sound was mostly an indecipherable roar of bass drum and bass guitar. Things improved marginally whenever Geddy switched to synth bass, which only added to the frustration, as the guy is just about my favourite bassist, yet I could barely make out a note whenever he played it! To be honest, I spent most of that gig holding on to my seat for fear of plummeting to my death!

    For this gig, we had seats in the first level tier, nowhere near where they were supposed to be (according to the 02 website’s seating plan) and the sound was actually a huge improvement, although nowhere near the ‘crystal clear acoustics’ that the venue promises. There were moments, though, paricularly on more upbeat numbers like Analog Kid and Force 10, where things were swamped with muddy rumblings again. The second set was actually much better, as the addition of the 8-piece string section brought an extra level of clarity to the sound, which only made me wonder how hard can it be to get a decnt sound for a 3-piece band?

    For me, the most frustrating thing about the 02 is the keeping open of the bar and food court during the band’s performance. From where we were sitting, there was a constant, very visible procession of bodies marching up and down the steps with drink and food for the entire duration of the show! Anybody sitting on the aisles would have been unable to see a thing. Honestly, what kind of pr*ck would pay upwards of £60 for a ticket, only to spend the whole show queueing for hugely overpriced beer and burger and chips?

  13. Rich says:

    This makes interesting, if disappointing reading. I usually put the quality of the sound down to my hearing which is frankly, not as good as it could be, due to a youth spent going to rock concerts (a couple of which were Rush!). I blame Kiss for my tinitus…

    I have long had a theory, which although it’s not very rock ‘n’ roll, is that concerts are played at too high a volume intensity. I first realised this when I came back into the Rush fold after their (and my own) hiatus from rock music; I got married, but eventually realised that my wife didn’t mind at all if I went to gigs!

    Anyway, I accidentally found that Rush were recording again, when I came across ‘Feedback’ whilst browsing in a record shop in New York. When I returned home I immediately checked out for any tour dates and to my great joy, I found that R30 was in full swing and managed to bag myself a ticket to see them in Birmingham. I was very excited, as I took my place. A fantastic gig I thought, but the sound level was so high, that my already damaged hearing took a massive knock, to the point that I remember waking up the next day, feeling completely hung over and quite ill. The strongest thing I’d had was coffee, but I was still deaf and it took some days to get over that.

    I’m careful about how many gigs I go to now, and have to wear ear plugs, which kind of defeats the object of a rock concert, but is necessary for me. I’ve subsequently seen Rush on all the tours since, and always enjoy it, but always come away thinking the sound isn’t as good as it could be, but putting that down to my ears. In reality, I think that the sound levels are simply too high, and I think that it’s not necessary. Some years ago, I took the family to see The Feeling (a good if light weight live band who produce singable tunes) at the Brighton Centre. My girls would have been about 11 or 12 at the time and I was keen that they weren’t deafened. I got all these ear plugs sorted for them, but it wasn’t necessary, even for me. The gig was loud enough that you could feel it, it was loud enough that you felt like you’d been at a gig, but it didn’t leave my head swimming, or the kids deafened.

    That might not be the a great comparison, but it makes the point that massive sound pressure levels are not necessary for a great gig. You can surely still pump Geddy’s seismic bass into the ground to get that feeling in the pit of your stomach, without taking the ears off the audience with the mid and high levels? We also went to see ‘Jesus Christ Super Star’ at the O2, which as a ‘Rock Opera’ was also played at high levels, although nothing like Rush! In that context, I still thought it little loud for that show (which was amazing actually), but earplugs were not required! Last example: Joe Bonamassa at Hammersmith Apollo was loud without over doing it, and he was so good, I’m seeing him again at Brighton later this year.

    Friday night, like the previous 2 Rush gigs, was just the same, and with earplugs in (about half way – I still need a bit ‘edge’ to the sound), and from my place in block A3 in the arena they sounded good for the most part, but not brilliant. It was still hard on occasion to pick out Geddy’s amazingly dextrous bass line, but that also applied at times to Alex’s guitar at times. Neil’s drums were a more muddy affair, but I end up forgiving all (when maybe I shouldn’t) because I simply loved seeing them play live, playing brilliantly, and evidently enjoying themselves. I can only assume that the sound engineer is actually deaf himself and just has to crank it up to hear it. I’ll still go again if they return…

    Oh, and Cal, your comment about people walking in and out during the gig? I couldn’t agree more. Whats that all about?? My ticket was £75, so I was staying put!!

  14. Adam says:

    What a shame to read so many bad comments about Rush’s sound at the O2. It was such a high standard show, as we have come to expect. It will be of no consolation, but I saw them at Birmingham LG on Sunday and the sound was good, not exceptional, but much better than reports here. There does seem to be a good deal of variation in these big halls. The LG is no exception. I went to many gigs there in the 90’s when the place seemed to leak bass frequencies like a sieve. Something change and it’s been better since, although still variable. For the Time Machine tour I had a seat directly behind the sound desk, but back up on the first tier of seats. So, the view was exceptional and the sound premium. For example, the highs were all clear and not distorted and there was plenty of definition with Geddy’s bass. To top it off, I will never forget the feeling of my chest vibrating whenever Geddy or Alex used the bass pedals, yet there was still plenty of definition.

    Sunday’s gig did not attain those heights, but was good. This time I was sat in block 13, so a way back on the side tier about half way up (not ideal due to a later than hoped ticket purchase), however, my pre-gig worry about the sound was unfounded. Overall there was a good spread and definition with that necessary twang off Geddy’s bass audible throughout. However, this time there was no kick from the bass pedals and Neil’s toms did get lost at times along with some of Alex’s chord changes. I agree that volume is partly an issue. It’s that difficult balance between needing to feel the power of a rock gig yet maintain clarity. I’m certain if I’d walked about the venue there would have been variation. I would like to see Rush play the NIA in Birmingham. By comparison that always seems to deliver good sound quality.

    I count myself lucky because I was tempted to buy a ticket for the O2 in order to see Rush in a bigger venue. I’m glad I stayed with the local option, but feel bad for those of you who had such a miserable time with the sound there. Rush are anything but lo-fi, so bad live sound is unacceptable. My understanding is the PA will be hired by Rush for the tour and not some in-house system. The photos of different shows now online bear this out. I’ve not been to the O2 so forgive this assumption, but being such a different structure to “big shed”-type venues must alter the acoustics. A touring company will presumably design a system for the average arena. If it was using an O2 PA then there really is no excuse for bad sound.

  15. Nigel says:

    I agree with Simon, it depends on where you sit. I sat up high in the rafters for Muse at the O2 and the sound was awful. For Rush I was lucky to get seats in row E a few rows up from the floor but a fair way back from the stage and the sound quality was pretty good by comparison.

  16. Paul says:

    Interesting reading the comments about the Rush gig at the O2. Didn’t go myself (saw them at Sheffield last night) but it seems the concerns about the sound quality at the O2 are nothing new. A mate of mine (hi Adam!) who’s an avid Rush fan saw them there on the last tour and said that the sound quality was so poor that he ended up leaving before the end which is unheard of for him. Obviously it wasn’t much better this time around. As for Sheffield the sound was okay, not great but not terrible either. My main reason for posting however is more about the ticket prices and the effect it has. It seems to me that Rush have hiked the prices up on the last two tours to Stadium gig + levels. I will always go and see the band live as I am a huge fan and they remain a great concert band, but I fear they may be pricing many fans away, especially in times of “great austerity”. Sheffield Arena last night was just over half full, definitely the lowest turn out I’ve seen for a Rush gig and the lowest I’ve ever seen at the venue. Sad to see because the band deserve better. Surely it’s prefereable to knock £15-20 off the ticket prices and play to a full house with the resultant better atmosphere?! More people means more noise, more t-merchandise sales and more food drinks sales. Credit to the band, they still gave their all and the crowd that was there still created a reasonale noise, but Rush should be playing to packed houses. I suspect as a result this may be the last time they play Sheffield which would be a great shame, especially as it means Northern based fans will probably have make to with a gig at Manchester’s O2 arena equivelent – the M E N arena. Would be interested to know if this was something perculiar to Sheffied or if attendances were down at other venues too

  17. Mk says:

    The top level at the O2 was certainly no where near full and I think you’re right. The ticket prices are too high, and whilst I did go it is a ridiculous amount of money to pay out when times are hard, even if the show is over 2.5 hours long. I hope we see them again, but who knows, their age is beginning to show (not on their musicianship I hasten to add!) but I’ll be there when they come back to the UK. A superb show.

  18. Mrs Lawblogone says:

    I think my main issue with the gig is that for the amount of money made by the venue and the band, they just can’t seem to get it right. I couldn’t care less about the ‘pot luck’ with seats – that’s not my choice and the band/venue need to take note of reviews (I read the 2010 Rush O2 gig reviews – they can’t say they didn’t know) and complaints from loyal fans paying through the nose for tickets.

    I would never, ever walk out of a gig (I’m Scottish – I’m squeezing every little penny out of any gig I go to!! :) )but the idea of sitting in the middle of what sounded like a civil war in a hardware store and going deaf for no enjoyment whatsoever, is completely against even my tight-wad principles.

    I think Rich hit the nail on the head. There seems to be a fashion for ‘louder is better’ these days. But, for goodness sakes! Rush are hardly a thrash band – they really don’t need to deafen the audience to cover up shoddy playing (no offence to any thrash fans – I’m talking ‘bad’ thrash :) .

    I’m just seriously hacked off – I could see the stage (at 5’2”, this in itself is an anomaly), I didn’t have No1 fan next to me screeching away, 6ft dancing guy in front or drunk’n’lively twins anywhere near. But the sound was guff!!

    And, yes, the eateries were pretty bog standard, veggie unfriendly chain restaurants. And most of them closing at the back of 9. Not quite what I expected at this ‘super-venue’.

  19. Andy Laurie says:

    Fourth time I’ve seen Rush (first time being in 1979), and probably the most enjoyable. O2 were kind enough to upgrade me (as I was on my own) to floor level, from up at the top level. Result! They opened with Subdivisions, one of my favourites, and went on to play an hour of material from (in my opinion) their best few years during the early to mid-80s. As Power Windows is, if I had to choose one, their best album, I couldn’t be happier; 5 tracks I think. And they played material from Grace Under Pressure, which is seriously under-rated. Last time I saw them they played no tracks from Grace…. which left me slightly disappointed. So far so f****** fantastic. After the interval I wandered up to the front and spent the second half about 20 feet from Geddy Lee. And I went along thinking I would need binoculars. Plus the sound at the front was infinitely better. I haven’t air drummed at a gig for about 20 years, but next day my arms had seized up. Just a shame they didn’t play BU2B as it’s the best song on Clockwork Angels, but I’m not complaining. None of my London mates are Rush fans, and after that I’m glad they aren’t; thank you Rush (and the O2) for making me the luckiest, happiest f***** alive. For a few hours anyway.

  20. Marshy says:

    This all makes very interesting reading. I attended the O’no as I now choose to call it for the first time in May 2011 to see Rush on their Time Machine tour. Having seen them 7 times before over 30 years I new what to expect. Awesome everything! WRONG!!!!
    The sound was so bad from my seat in block 107 at the back of the hall that I could have cried! All the issues mentioned in numerous other posts were apparent.
    I left the venue that night frustrated and down right angry having spent an alarming £85 for my ticket which was half that amount last time around!
    I had some very important questions I wanted to ask? How did I end up with tickets at the back of the hall when I booked through the Rush website pre-sale, days before tickets went on general sale and how could such a majestic and previously faultless live band get the sound so wrong?
    I took my fight to the Rush forum on their website. What a mistake that was! The adoring brainwashed clones that live their lives on there swarmed and told me repeatedly that there was no place for my comments on their beloved forum! I then sent my questions and thoughts directly to Rush very own management company, Anthem in Toronto. I sent 2 emails and never heard a thing!
    The conclusion that I took from this was that Rush was now a corporate machine and fans views and opinions no longer mattered. I decided to snub the new album and never to set foot at another Rush concert while they continue to chase the dollar in horrible venues. This year was the first time I have never wanted to attend a show by my former favourite band. I feel for those that went and experienced the raw deal that I did 2 years ago. Sadly. I saw it coming!

  21. Iain Love says:

    Totally agree with Marshy.
    I have seen Rush ALOT over the last 30 years. Many many times over. The sound is generally spot on and the show exceptional. I think that they are now going for the “Big Money”, to use their own terminology. Very disappointed in the show, the band did not seem to want to be there….they were just churning it out as they have done for the previous 100 gigs. Really disappointed, becasue I hold these guys high in my esteem to say the least.and they enerally strive to give a great show for the money. Not this tour, and I would seriously consider bothering again. I would say to the band that if they didnt really want to perform, then they shouldn’t. Simple.

  22. Cliff Blanchette says:

    I do not agree.I saw Bob Dylan a few years ago and he was crap and it cost a fortune.That was not the point.I looked around and saw I was in the same room as 4,000 people who adored Bob Dylan the Man.He created that stuff.His sound was rubbish,doubtful if you could really call him a singer.Yet he and Rush have in common they are the creators of the music we love and also hopefully the musicians and characters we admire.
    If you want to hear them play their albums perfectly with perfect sound stay at home and use your headphones.
    I prefer to pay a lot of money to see them than not see them.If they ever come here again then try to get a seat near the front if you can before all the other Rush freaks.It’s better at the front.
    Also ,have you ever heard of pacing a show for maximum effect and enjoyment.On this gig they did this, in my humble opinion.All Hail the mighty Rush,they have inherited the Earth.

  23. Scott says:

    I feel ya. Sorry to hear that. I had a similar at experience the other night in Vancouver, Canada at Rogers Arena. The sound was really muddy, especially for the songs with keyboards and bass pedals. When Alex took a solo it seemed like there was a lot of high end and no mids for it to be properly audible. Same with the bass. No definition. You couldn’t hear any of the amazing runs he plays. Only in quieter parts. The vocals where echoey and boomy. I wear pro musicians earplugs and I would take them out for a few songs here and there for comparison but it still sounded like crap. There were a few songs that sounded ok but they had less keyboards and bass pedals in them. Finally the encore was sounding ok. Neil Peart was amazing and sounding better playing wise than ever. It’s too bad because they played some amazing material, but even the Clockwork Angels stuff didn’t sound as good as it should have with the orchestra. It can depend where you are in the venue but it should sound good anywhere you are. It’s hit or miss with these arena shows. I’m tired of them to be honest. I’m a musician and I’m super picky about sound. Also I probably have lost some shelves of frequencies in my overall hearing now that I’m 38 having played and seen so many shows. It still should have sounded better. These corporate arena shows can rip you off with crappy sound and piss water expensive beers. The best sounding Rush show I saw was at an outdoor amphitheater for the 2010 Time Machine tour outside of Seattle.