BY DEAN BIRKHEIMER | Go Venue Magazine
“Summer’s going fast. Nights growing colder. Children growing up. Old friends growing older. Experience slips away” ― Rush & Aimee Mann
Bill Heck, Sean Jones and Thomas Slawnik collectively are The Rush Tribute Project. RTP (for short) is an homage to one of the most enduring and influential bands in rock music. Combining skilled musicianship with exciting performances, RTP brings the magic of Rush’s famous live concerts to clubs and festivals. Covering all forty-plus years of Rush’s amazing career, RTP painstakingly recreates the sound and energy that has made Rush one of the top selling rock bands of all time. With a lineup that has performed Rush tribute shows for over a decade across North America and around the world, including RushCon, RTP stands out as one of the premiere tributes to a legendary band. This three-piece uses vintage instruments, clothes and sounds to produce a Rush concert experience that is unparalleled for the casual fan as well as the most discerning Rush fan.
If RUSH could do one thing, it was the ability to communicate messages through their music. The RTP were able to also do this. Nearly every detail of their show is meticulously planned and executed from the scrolling of the album covers and photos on the big screens before the show, to the lights and lasers during the performance. Listen, I’m not going to tell you that these guys are RUSH and I’m sure they would agree, but there were certainly moments when they do make the hair on your arms stand up and you become vested in what they are creating on stage. During the show the passing of Neil Peart was addressed but was not used in any way to promote the band. They did a classy job of letting us all know that they are there to honor the band and not there to take advantage of a sad circumstance. RTP are electrifying in their own right, and the production values were just enough to enhance the music and not overwhelm it. The large Waiting Room crowd were completely engaged and absolutely appreciative of what they were seeing and listening to.
Each member of a band has something to contribute. The playing of an instrument or their vocal skills play a part in the overall sound they create as well as the performance they deliver. During this three hour long set and as you might expect, the three members of this band all had their moments of impact. Bill Heck is a savage guitarist who is as much at home strumming chords as he is ripping a solo. His notes are rich and robust, and his phrasing is as clean as a razor. Bill can create that rock crunch sound that Alex gave us that sounded like two guitars at once. On bass, performing as Geddy Lee was Sean Jones. Hair in a ponytail, circular shades and the ability to play bass, sing and play keyboards has you doing double takes, just to be sure it’s not Geddy himself. Handling this triple duty workload is not easy, but Sean handled it with true expertise. Making four strings sound the way Sean makes them sound is a remarkable feat. Whether slapping or plucking, Sean showed us he is an especially skilled musician. Thomas Slawnik (percussionist) facially resembles Neil and portrays a stoic demeanor that accurately reproduces Neil’s looks on stage. He is a magnificent drummer who like Neil makes you want to air-drum like nobody is watching. He is an ambitious craftsman who fluently utilizes implements like cow bells, blocks and chimes. He plays hard, he plays fast and he plays tastefully.
Seeing Rush live in an arena was certainly an amazing experience, there are few bands that can do what Rush did or create the sound that Rush created. Even though The Rush Tribute Project will probably never play a large arena, they certainly can re-create the atmosphere that Rush themselves created. If you’re a fan of RUSH, then you’re a fan of The Rush Tribute Project and you should catch their tribute show as often as you can.
THE SPIRIT OF THE RADIO – SUBDIVISIONS – THE ANALOG KID – THE BIG MONEY – GRAND DESIGNS – DISTANT EARLY WARNING – TIME STAND STILL – AFFERIMAGE – THE GARDEN – DRIVEN – RED BARCHETTA – ANTHEM – CLOSER TO THE HEART – 2112
LIMELIGHT – FREEWILL – JACOBOS LADDER – RED SECTOR A – THE BODY ELECTRIC – YYZ – MALIGNANT NARCISSISM – NATRUAL SCIENCE – LA VILLA STRANGIATO – TOM SAWYER – THE TREES – XANADU
BYTOR AND THE SNOWDOG – WORKING MAN
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