Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rush Diary - Second Show at the Garden

Following Saturday night's show at Newark, I wasn't sure what to expect at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. My expectations were exceeded once again.

On Sunday morning, I watched my youngest child graduate high school and then drove her up to the sleepaway camp she's working at this summer. Howard was live Monday, which meant a long day ahead filled with fabulous things to come.

Monday, June 29 - New York City, New York

3:40am - Woke up to make the 4:24 train to Penn Station. Packed a change of clothes to crash in the city, a must with Howard live and a late Rush show to take in.

5:45am - Arrive at SiriusXM to prepare for this morning's Stern show. I like getting there before anyone else for some quiet and to get organized. It gets busy once the show starts and doesn't let up all day.

11:15am - Time to host Wrap Up. Stern show fan Britt Daniel from Spoon is sitting in to ponder the plight of Bobo and Nicole Bass. I really do have a great job.

5:00 - I find two of the three who will be joining me tonight, Gary Dell'Abate and Richard Christy. This is Gary's first Rush show, and I'm excited for him because I know what he's about to experience. I went to the last three Rush shows with Richard, who happens to be one of the 50 greatest drummers in the world. He worships Neil, rightfully so.

5:15 - The plan is to meet our fourth, Ralph Cirella, at Will Call at 545. You might have on-air issues with Ralph, but he is one of the best people to hang out with. Trust me. It's nice out, so we walk down 6th Avenue.

5:45 - We arrive and get patted down and searched by the NYPD. MSG is safer than any airport. Ralph is already inside raring to go (and you thought he was going to be late, right?). No way. We get our tickets and passes and stand in line with other meet and greeters.

6:30 - After standing on the side of an empty hallway for a while as MSG staff watched us sweat, we walk upstairs to a large room with a Rush photo backdrop in place. This is where the M&G is happening. My Rush contact pulls us off the line to say hello and to apologize for MSG red tape that must be navigated. No worries.

6:40 - Neil is not coming (no surprise to any Rush fan) but Geddy and Alex are soon to arrive. One group pic each, no cell phones allowed. Everyone complies. The twosome enter and hit their marks as fans and friends gush when their pictures are snapped. I've already decided that I'm standing next to Geddy. 

6:50 - The moment. The four of us approach and I shake Alex's hand thanking him for all of his great guitar licks. Then I turn to Geddy, shake, and tell him how much I loved his MLB appearance with Randy Johnson. I share Geddy's love for baseball and figure that's the smart move. He smiles and says thank you, and then we take the picture. That's it. On to the next group.

7:00 - This hospitality area holds about 50 and there's lots of mixing and mingling. I reconnect with some of the folks I saw Saturday night. Ralph chats it up with John Varvatos. My brother comes in, who happens to be wearing JV stuff. Couldn't have planned it better. As the hour passes, I run into my pal from other night, Michael Moore, and we catch up on our weekends. I remain jealous of his all-access pass, but then again, I'm not Michael Moore. After chatting it up we head to our seats. We are in the front, but this time, directly in front of Geddy.

8:15 - The show starts, and Geddy is at the mic looking right at me. At least it appears that way. I don't want to take a photo. I feel that would be distracting and disrespectful. It doesn't stop everyone else though from snapping away, including Ralph who took some of the shots that follow from his askew "Bat-angle".

There are a few changes from Saturday's set list that I'll highlight here.

8:52 - "One Little Victory" replaces "How It Is", and the band doesn't miss a beat. Nice to get some variety in the second show as we head back in Rush time.

9:05 - After "Animate" and the star-studded "Roll The Bones", I expect "Between The Wheels" or perhaps another chance to see "Losing It", but then p/g arrives with DEW aka "Distant Early Warning". Sweet.

9:10 - I see Johnny Dinklage enter stage left and I know what's coming. The crowd goes crazy for the third-ever live performance of "Losing It". As Johnny does his thing, I notice his mother and girlfriend in the photo area in front of us beaming with pride. Could brother "Tyrion" be nearby? 

9:15 - Time to end the first set with "Subdivisions" as Richard Christy proceeds to drum the entire song on my arm. Definitely a different way to conform or be cast out.

9:25 - Back in the hospitality area for a quick break between sets. It is confirmed that Peter Dinklage is indeed on premises but keeping to himself and his family. I spot band manager Ray Danniels once again and inform him of Richard's drummer ranking. He replies how exciting it is to have #1 and #50 in the same house. I'm also told it's okay to take pics of Geddy. That's a relief. Lots of chat and anticipation for the second set. Other than the second song, I know what's coming. Can't wait.

9:43 - As I mentioned earlier, Ralph Cirella is a lot of fun to hang out with. 

9:45 - Cartman counts it off and "Tom Sawyer" begins. The Garden rocks.

9:50 - I was hoping for "YYZ" next. I got "Red Barchetta". I watch Geddy play the bass solo at the end of the song and harken back to the 80's. Good stuff. Gary tells me he feels unworthy of our front row seats with all these insane Rush fans surrounding him. He is, but I'm glad he's there.

9:55 - "The Spirit of Radio" once again carries the night. This is one of the loudest "concert halls" I've ever cheered in. Fans go crazy as Geddy announces "Jacob's Ladder" which is followed by the "Cygnuses".  No guitar glitch this time in the acoustic opening of "Closer To The Heart".

10:30 - Here come the double-necks. To my right, I spot Peter Dinklage taking it all in and leave him be. I met Johnny in Newark, so I tap him and tell him how great he was tonight. He thanks me, but I don't think he remembers who I am. I don't get to meet his brother, but that's okay. A Lannister always pays his debts.

10:40 - Ralph encourages me to take pics during "2112", but I can't get the lighting right. Thankfully, he does. I've heard "2112" live countless times and still watch in awe as Rush cranks out Parts I, II, IV and VII. 

10:50 - Richard Christy can't stop laughing seeing Mel Sirrup up on the big screen introducing the encore. That makes me smile. Cue "Lakeside Park".

10:54 - "Anthem". "What You're Doing". "Working Man". The crowd can't get enough. I realize this might be the last time I see my favorite power trio on the big stage and give an appreciative cheer.

11:15 - I wish we could hang backstage, but we've got Howard in the morning so it's time to roll. I thank Rich, the band photographer, and tell him to give my best to everyone. And just like that, we are out on 8th Avenue looking for a cab.

Ralph, Gary and Richard all loved the show. What's not to love? 

I feel very lucky to have seen Geddy, Alex and Neil up close on two of the last three nights. I joined them as they traveled back in time with their timeless tunes. 

What a trip. Hope to see them again some time soon.


  1. So happy you guys got to do it VIP style! Always a great perk! Great breakdown of the experience. I was there too and shared in the magic. I got to take my 4 kids (11 and under) to the Philly show and they loved it) So many of us die hards share awesome similar experiences! I also congratulate you on popping Garys cherry. I'd be very curious to hear what he thought, as it's likely to have been his first and last time seeing them live. Great times!

  2. Woah, I can't wait to grab this book as soon as it will be launched. This is the best one for all the food lovers.