Night Two of the R40 Tour – Rush in Lincoln, Nebraska

Geek Culture Music


It will be a long time before I forget January 22, 2015. I was a couple hours into work, on my second coffee and buzzing along that Thursday morning. I got a desktop notification that I glanced up at and caught the keyword “RUSH,” which made me drop what I was doing and see what was going on. An email with the subject line “Rush Announce R40 Live 40th Anniversary Tour” was the news from a press release. YES! I quickly scanned the list of dates to make sure my city was on the tour. It was. (Thank goodness.)

The important info digested, I went on to scan the details of the release. Then I read the line I had been dreading for years: “[This] will most likely be their last major tour of this magnitude.” My Rush-high came crashing down to a low I hadn’t experienced since Feedback was released. Last major tour? Ouch.

Back to the tour dates. What other dates could I make? The very first night, Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a possibility but I had a conflict. So I set my sights on night two: Lincoln, Nebraska. I’d never been there, but I was going. On night two.

To make the night more memorable, I was going to take my thirteen-year-old son to his first real rock concert. (Point of argument: He’s seen Weird Al twice now, but I’m not sure it really counts because you don’t really need ear protection for Weird Al.) This was a controversial move because we were going to have to leave early in the day, on Mother’s Day, to see this show. We got sign-off on that transgression and faced the next hurdle. He was going to miss a half day of school on Monday, but some things are more important than school sometimes. Seeing Rush’s (potentially) last tour as your first big rock show? That qualifies.

Tickets secured, we waited. We filled the time quizzing each other with Rush tidbits. We made up playlists of what we thought the R40 tour would sound like and we waited some more. The days leading up to Tulsa were torture. We couldn’t wait to hear what was played in Oklahoma and, more than that, we couldn’t wait for Lincoln.


We followed the updates on Friday’s show in Tulsa and got excited about the setlist, which featured a lot of songs seldom heard in concert. More than any recent tour, this was a hardcore fan’s setlist. We were pumped.

The day arrived and we drove the three hours to Lincoln in driving rain and bumper-to-bumper traffic. But we arrived safe and checked into our hotel, a couple blocks from the arena. We dropped our bags in our room and then began to wander the small area surrounding the state university. There were lots of Rush fans walking around in good spirits, sharing a friendly word when another Rush t-shirt was spotted.

Finally, the doors opened and we made our way to our seats (after buying the requisite shirts). The show started a few minutes late, but the crowd in the smallish Pinnacle Bank Arena was ready.

The concert started with an opening video that showcased their career from start to present, before launching into a concert that did the exact opposite, moving from new to old. The setlist was different in a few ways from Friday’s opening Tulsa show. Lincoln’s setlist went like this: The Anarchist, The Wreckers, Headlong Flight (mini solo), Far Cry, Main Monkey Business, How It Is, Animate, Roll the Bones, Between the Wheels, Subdivisions.

Then came the intermission, followed by Tom Sawyer, Camera Eye, The Spirit of Radio, Jacob’s Ladder, Cygnus X-1, Book Two and One with a drum solo, Closer to the Heart, Xanadu, and most of 2112. Alex moved to Geddy’s microphone and did a screeching impersonation of him toward the end. After a short film, they came back for an encore, which featured Lakeside Park, Anthem, What You’re Doing, and a rocking version of Working Man.

Additionally, there was a great light show, some funny video clips, and a stage show that deconstructed, piece by piece, while the music moved back. The instruments matched the retro march and, by the time the trio launched into the finale, Working Man, it almost felt like you were in a high school gym with them, as the backdrop suggested.


It was amazing. I’ve seen a lot of older bands and many of them just play a bit slower than in their prime. Rush is still operating on all engines, and hitting (almost) all the same notes. Pretty impressive for a band in their 41st year. I was especially thrilled to have been able to share this experience as my son’s first concert. “It was really fun,” said my son, with a big, goofy grin on his face. “But I couldn’t believe how loud it was!”

My only complaint is that a good portion of the Lincoln audience spent the whole show in their seats or running out to grab a beer – during some of the best songs. Get on your feet, people! But all in all, it was a great show and one befitting a possible last major tour. If you live close enough to one of the dates, try to see Rush on the R40 tour. You won’t regret it.

By the way, I’ll be in St. Louis on Thursday for Geekway to the West, the same night that the holy triumvirate plays the Gateway city. If anyone has an extra ticket, let me know. I’m definitely a buyer!

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38 thoughts on “Night Two of the R40 Tour – Rush in Lincoln, Nebraska

  1. Hi Dave, I’m a 57 year old Rush fan from Nebraska and I enjoyed your post. Couple of thoughts though, could Geddy’s mic maybe have auto tune or similar, that Alex gave us an example of? Also I noticed the ushers shining their lights in peoples eyes standing in front of me, trying to get them to set down.

    1. Hi Terry, I don’t think it was auto-tuned. I think it was just Alex being Alex in that goofy way he has. It was definitely meant for a laugh.

    2. I also took my 13 year old to tje Loncoln show! It was his 1st Rush concert and my 1st since Presto!
      I would have preferred something other than “between the wheels” representing the P/G, Power Windows, Hold your Fire era…..but that is my only small disappointment. Oh……and Rush without YYZ was a surprise.
      Loved the show though……loved sharing, like you, with a 13 year old son who thought he would never get to see them.

  2. Hi Dave, I am going to the Atlanta show on the 26th and cant wait! My first Rush concert was the signals tour in Montreal, what an experience! This will be an awsome show! I even talked my older brother into going ( it didnt take much). His first Rush show was moving pictures.

  3. Great write up.
    Glad to see you got to take your son to a RUSH show before they call it a day.
    I will be doing the same at the Kansas City show for my 10 year old.
    We’re hoping for a similar setlist as the Lincoln show.
    He was crushed when I didn’t take him to the Clockwork Angels show, but at the time, I figured he’d find it too loud and/or fall asleep by intermission. 🙂

    1. I’ll be at the KC show too. I’m hoping it’s a little different than Lincoln. ; )

      I’m thankful I got the chance to see them perform Xanadu live, it was an incredibly memorable moment.

  4. The sound in PBA is terrible and it wasn’t close to a sellout. Show should have been in Omaha.

  5. Tomorrow night… I am wondering if we will see some new twists in the setlist. I’ll know in just about 24 hours when I take my position in the Xcel Energy Center. Woot!

  6. Start by saying I am lost,have seen every tour since 1977 and now they deny our city a show, and tickets were like 15 bucks now 10 times that,so I guess my farewell will be the Hershy show Clockwork ,it is hard to miss maybe the stooges last tour and that second set wow just at a loss …

  7. June 27th in NJ with my 19 and 15 year old sons. We delayed a 4th of July vacation trip by one day. This will be their 4th show. I’ve lost count for myself. Almost don’t want it to get here but looking forward none the less. Great post!! Thanks.

  8. GREAT REVIEW! I enjoyed my first RUSH experience, Fond memories of the group back in High School ( Class of 78 ) Check out my RUSH art on my FB page. Peace my friend ! Rock on !

  9. Taking my 15 year old daughter and twin 13 year old boys to the Austin TX show….first concert for all…I would have loved if it this is Rush’s last major tour that they are not playing “losing It”…favorite Rush song ever and quite apropos under the current circumstances…

  10. Will be seeing them in St. Paul in less than 12 hours. I’m hoping a few more wrinkles appear in the setlist tonight — maybe something from Presto thrown in there? They’ve just got so much to choose from it’s got to be tough to lay out a concise list every night. And this will be the night my son (age 11) gets to see them for the first time, as well, though he and his sister got to experience a real show last March (Imagine Dragons). I’ve been a fan for a long time though I didn’t see them until the Presto Tour (one in Rochester NY and then a few nights later at Maple Leaf Gardens) but there was no way I was going to miss out on what may well be their swan song for the bog tour circuit. I’m ultra excited for this evening, even if it is time to say goodbye.

  11. Dave, I’m trying to get a timeline. When do you think they actually hit the stage? 7:45? 8:00? thanks

      1. Good to know. Have tickets to tonights show at the X in St. Paul. Tickets say 7:30. Opening act?

        1. I can’t remember the last time that Rush had an opening act. No one is worthy!

          1. Last time I remember was Counterparts tour in 1994. Went to the Kansas City show and Primus opened. That was truly…interesting.

          2. That’s what I was thinking, Ted. Around that time. Still, that was 20 years ago!

          3. After a little research, I was right. Counterparts tour. “An Evening with RUSH” started with the Test for Echo tour. Which, if anyone remembers, was the first and last time they played 2112 in its entirety live.

  12. Thanks for the review! Taking my daughter in to Dallas show next week. Was supposed to be her first real concert too but alas that was spoiled by a friend giving us his ZZTOP/Jeff Beck tickets a couple of weeks ago. Oh the bad luck. Haven’t seen Rush live since ’78 or ’79. Really pumped after seeing the set list and the Marshalls on stage. Hated the HK’s. Been sayin’ all along that we needed the “All the Worlds a Stage” stage. Thanks again!

  13. Just got back from the concert in Saint Paul. Geddy’s voice didn’t even last out the 4th song, and they are doing shows every other night until the middle of June. It made me sad. Maybe the should knock everything down an octave.

  14. Just got back from the Minneapolis show. Amazing! My 20th show and hopefully not the last, but definitely top 10 of the 20 I’ve seen dating back to the farewell to kings tour in 78. Rush, unlike other “old” bands, put on a show. The still have fun on stage and that spills over to the audience. I traveled 600 miles to see them tonight and it was worth every inch!


      1. Still nothing from Power Windows, Hold Your Fire, Presto, or Test For Echo.

  15. Geddy lost his voice in the 4th song? Geddy lost his voice in 1982! If you’re going to hear Geddy’s voice, you’re going for the wrong reason.

    1. Ged didn’t seem the worse for wear to me. Sure, he can’t hit those high highs anymore but his voice held up pretty well as far as I could tell. He belted out a good sustain on more than a few occasions and even surprised me a few times with how he pushed himself. No complaints from me. I thought he was great.

  16. Going to see the trio in St. Louis tomorrow night 5/14/15. Taking my 12yr and 15yr old sons. Gonna be awesome! Sorry no extra ticket for you. Looks like it close to a sell out at this show so far.

  17. Tim, if you are a diehard Rush fan you will love this show. They play songs in the second set that I haven’t heard since 1980. Heck, 78, for that matter. I felt the vibe change completely during the second set. The late comer Rush fans had no clue what they were playing and you could feel it. I overheard several people comment on how they wish they would have played more “popular” songs! Huh? Xanadu, Cygnus, 2112, Jacobs Ladder, Natural science, Anthem etc. are not popular? I guess if you started liking Rush around Vapor trails or later, that would be the case. Awesome show. Best one I’ve seen from them in a while. Snakes and Arrows kicked Ass but if you are a throw back, this is for you.

  18. That’s how it is…….I have seen grown men cry before, I just never thought it would be me, at a Rush concert.
    I attended my 20th rush show at the X in St. Paul on Tuesday. I will also be at the Kansas concert July 9.
    I attended the concert with my 16 year old son. It was his 11th Rush concert.
    His first Rush show was Vapor Trails in Milwaukee, that’s right he was 4 years old for his first Rush concert.
    The show on Tuesday at the X was very good. Set list was cool. I liked how they devolved through the concert, back to the high school gym set. Also, liked how the workers in red jump suits kept changing Alex’s amp set up to match the era in which they were currently playing songs. Enjoyed the out takes and bloopers from the past three tours comedy film shorts, very cool.
    I couldn’t help but feel the crowd was a little shocked at the very real possibility that this is the end. Maybe it was just me. As they played Clockwork Angels the tears were flowing. Seeing Peart behind the kit pounding away is a powerful sight. CA is not really one of my all time favorites, but it is such a beautiful sounding and emotional song, especially live. Rush will do that to you.
    “You can expect it when you least expect it.”
    I am an artist, and perhaps music affects me more than other people, but music inspires and even controls my paintings, and writings. I actually wrote a sci-fi trilogy of books based on the opening lines in the song “Animate”. My family has never been to Disney world, we spend our vacation dollars going to Rush, as well as a few other bands’, concerts in other cities.
    I was upset when I heard this may in fact be the final tour, resentful even. How could they take away MY Rush? Neil Peart is one of the best drummers ever, and I felt robbed that he would decide to slow it down. After seeing the show on Tuesday I get it. Neil and company are still at the top of their game, however, you can see it on Neil’s face. He is tired, and in pain.
    He looks not well.
    After finding out about his family situation, and his health, I realize that it MUST end or we will have no more Neil Peart on this earth. Remember we may, more than likely, get new albums from Rush, just not massive 35 city tours.
    The Beatles stopped touring, but still remained active by releasing albums for several years after stopping playing live shows. My hope is that type of scenario for Rush. Perhaps, as others have suggested, they will do a week of shows at Massey Hall (Toronto) or Radio City Music Hall (NY) or State Theater (MPLS – hopeful). Either way Rush has earned this time to take a bit of a break. I do not think they are done forever, just for now as Geddy said,
    “….At this point in our career it is clear that we need to slow down, and slow down dramatically.”
    Even though it is sad, celebrate the magic that is Rush.
    It is kinda like a the death of a beloved family dog. You can see the pet getting older. You know it is inevitable but you go on day after day trying to convince yourself that somehow it will go on forever. Then you have to have your friend “put down humanly”. You know it is right, but you still fight it and hate the circumstances. Then they are gone and you are left with the thought that they have been a great family companion, protector, etc. Also they have enriched your life more than you ever thought possible.
    “Why are we here? Because we’re here. Roll the bones.”
    Hollow as that is, life is a fragile journey, and if something makes you happy you must pursue it. If you like Rush then listen to them proudly. If not, that is fine, that is why Baskin-Robins makes 31 flavors.

    In the end, all you can say is good luck to Neil, Geddy and Alex, and of course, THANK YOU!

    1. I ended up taking my 10 year old daughter to the show at the Xcel (my son failed to get a school project completed and was punted from the outing). Her first Rush show and only 2nd ever concert (Imagine Dragons being her first). She knew Tom Sawyer and was vaguely recalling Spirit of Radio and One Little Victory. The rest was pretty new to her. She couldn’t believe how loud they were, and how great they were. She must have said “wow” about 100 times. She loved watching the set deconstruction, even from where we were sitting in the lower level she could feel the heat from the flames shot up at the end of One Little Victory and laughed in surprise. Unlike the complainers, she was mesmerized, and the look of total awe on her face during the Alex solos on the older 2nd set tunes was priceless. And when they broke out the old laser lights during Xanadu she squealed with genuine glee at seeing something so new….to her. She’s been talking about the show for two days to anyone who’ll listen. With this being the potential end of the line for the trio, I’m so glad she got to experience Rush live. It has opened up a new idea of what a show should be that she might be spoiled and disappointed at future events.

  19. Greetings from St. Louis, Dave… me and a buddy will be at the Rush show tonight. I’m 49 and have been a huge fan of there’s since high school. Yet this is my first Rush show! I can’t wait, and your excellent post about your experience has me all that much more geeked up!!!

  20. Greetings fellow Rush fans! I am going to the Dallas show on Monday night and I am pumped! When I found they were touring I got in touch with my two Rush buddies from high school and told them we needed to go together! I bought the tickets (12th row floor) and we are going to make a day of it. We went to our 1st Rush concert with Farewell to Kings and I have seen every tour except their R30 tour. Sounds like they pulled out many of older obscure songs and have focused on playing the music true to their roots. The albums with the keyboards does not refelect that so much, so not surprised they shied away from Presto, Power Windows, Hold Your Fire and even Roll the Bones – although there is a ton of good music on those albums. Nice to hear they are mixing up the set list a bit to keep you guessing. Maybe they will throw in some La Villa Strangiato! My favorite album of all time is probably Hemispheres – to me it epitomizes what Rush is all about.

  21. Great review…..going to see them June 12th in Chicago….cannot wait. Been a long time since I saw them last. Again, thanks for the great review.

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