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Neil Peart Explains Shortened Rush Concert

Neil Peart
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

The members of Rush have experienced a lot of crazy things over the past 40 years, but fleeing the stage during the middle of a show has never been one of them. Not until recently, anyway.

Drummer Neil Peart discussed the experience in a recent post on his website, explaining that the band’s July 10 performance at the Festival d’été de Québec in Quebec City had to be cut short due to what appeared to be a dangerous storm.

Deep into the second set, “behind the vast crowd in front of me, lightning flickered in the distant darkness,” Peart wrote. “Raindrops covered my cymbals enough to dampen their sound (literally and figuratively), and striking a crash cymbal sent a colorful fountain into the air. Of greatest concern were the exposed electronics — keyboards and foot pedals — and the delicate violins and cellos.”

Peart, who’d told Geddy Lee during intermission that “weather always makes me nervous,” went on to quote one of the string players appearing with the band at the show, who told him, “If it had been anyone but you guys, I would have been off that stage.”

Rush decided to heed the advice of their monitor engineer, who Peart says told them, “The show is over. A storm is right on us. Make an announcement, and get off the stage.” Unfortunately, as Peart explained, “in almost 40 years, we had never had to stop a show in the middle like that … we had no policy,” which meant that “Geddy had made a quick announcement before we ran, but it must be remembered that Quebec in general is 90 per cent francophone, and Quebec City closer to 100 per cent — and no one came out to explain the situation in French.”

Most unfortunately of all, said Peart, “It turned out that the storm veered away, and the rain stopped after 15 or 20 minutes. Some bands on other stages resumed their performances, as we might have done if we were there.” To make it up to annoyed fans — and help combat the public-relations fallout from articles suggesting Lee had pulled the plug on the band’s show on his own — Rush issued a public apology the next day and even recorded the six songs they weren’t able to play at their next show and gave them to a Quebec City radio station. “Nothing more we could do,” said Peart.

Next: Top 10 Rush Songs

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