092107 Rush, Ottawa, ON

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On September 21st, 2007 I lived one of my biggest teenaged fantasies, and it was everything I had dreamt* it would be.

The lights came down in the Palladium with screaming all around me, and from dead centre of the third row of the floor I watched Rush step on stage and rock my world.  The show was just remarkable start-to-finish, augmented severely by seeing it from such an epic viewpoint.  My jaw was agape, my fists were in the air, I air-drummed in all the right places and mouthed along with every word with at least a 60% accuracy rate.

A few notable memories from the show: 1) the bathroom lineup thing at a Rush concert is no joke; the men’s room line stretches around the corner while it seems like the women’s bathroom could be locked up tight and nobody would notice, and 2) it sure smells farty down there on the floor with all those guys packed in so tight and barely a woman in sight.

Which brings me to the teenaged fantasy thing.  Sure, every time I’ve seen Rush I’ve relived that era of my youth when the band meant absolutely everything to me (it was the early ’80’s and I lived in the suburbs of Toronto – Rush worship was mandatory).  But what I really dreamt of (aarrgh) was to be in love with a smart, funny, beautiful woman who not only loved me back, but who also loved Rush, and of course I knew that would be impossible.

But standing next to me in the third row on that September evening, alternatively holding her nose and raising her cute little fists in the air, was m’lady.  She was at her first Rush concert (and with little knowledge of the band this was essentially her introduction to the band) and she was loving it.  Had I actually found my holy grail?  When I later quizzed her as to what her favourite concert was of that week (Rush, Genesis, or the Beastie Boys at Metropolis) she shocked my dreams into reality by firmly and unequivocally siding with the Rush concert.  Check, check, check, check and check!  


(I would be remiss if I let this ticket memory go by without mentioning the Whitey incident.  A large, long-haired albino Ottawa music-fan legend, Whitey is best known for two things: his air-guitar skills and his love of Rush.  And sometime late in the set Alex Lifeson spotted Ottawa’s great white bear wailing away in all his glory midway up the stands directly beside the stage.  

And when Alex saw it he was as enthralled as the rest of us.  The quirky guitarist stood staring up at our even quirkier Whitey and played directly to him for a good minute or more.  All the while Whitey spit every note back at Lifeson in real time, just shredding his invisible Less Paul.  I saw it, Geddy and Neil saw it, every fan in the room saw it except Whitey himself, stunted as his eyesight is from his albinism. 

He found out about it in quite a hurry though.  Everyone who saw Whitey the rest of the night gave him a high-five or a mighty pat on the back.  And Whitey’s a pretty hard guy to miss.

Just ask Alex Lifeson.)

*When I was in high school I really liked math (still do).  My grade 11 math book had a bunch of fun riddles in the margins and I really enjoyed tackling them all.  They were almost exclusively mathematical problems (naturally) but one of the questions really stuck in my craw: “Name a common word in the English language that ends with the letters “mt”.”  I pondered and thought and came up with nothing.  I finally approached the teacher and she was no help.  “Those questions aren’t in the teacher’s answer book,” she told me.  “I’ve answered every margin riddle in the textbook except that one.”

And for the next five or six years I tortured myself trying to come up with the answer, scanning the last two letters on every page I read.  One day I mentioned the problem to my roommate Eric.  He cocked his head for all of three seconds and said, “dreamt.”  Ever since then every time I see the word “dreamt” I hate him just a little, but love him a whole lot more.

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