(Until recently it was the "Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre". Perhaps Verizon decided sponsoring a venue where cell network isn't that great to begin with and gets overloaded during events was a bad idea?)
The concert itself was great, getting to and from the concert, not so much.
Traffic, Lots and Lots of Traffic:
Traffic going south on the 405 isn't good at the best of times, but last thursday it was especially bad. (This is not the first time southbound traffic on the 405 has been especially bad on the evening of a Rush concert, but since it cleared up before we got to Irvine i don't think the concert was to blame.)
Avalyn left Marina del Rey at 3:45 and got to Long Beach at 5:30. Even if you allow some time at the ends for getting on and off the freeway and out of and into parking lots, that's still about 1:15 - 1:30 in traffic, for a trip that under ideal conditions would take about 30 minutes.
We left Long Beach at 5:45, and of course had to get back on the 405 and back into traffic. It wasn't _as_ bad at this point, and it continued to lighten up as we got further south. It seemed like we still might be a little early as we approached Irvina at around... 7ish? But then we had to get off the freeway. Or at least _try_ to get off the freeway. The first exit looked jam packed, though it's hard to tell exactly how slowly things (aren't) moving when driving by at freeway speed, but bad enough that we decided to follow the recommendation of the freeway signs directing concert traffic to the second exit.
If we made the "correct" choice, i don't even want to think about what the other route was like. The exit ramp was a very long one, one of those ones with multiple lanes and merging on and off the freeway with other exits. To get to the amphitheatre we needed to go right. There were three left turn lanes but only a single right lane. And it came to a dead stop about halfway to the turn. Of course a number of other people ignored the signs and continued on in the second lane, only to cut over into the right lane when they got close to the turn. We had an idiot in front of us who refused to move up and kept letting cars in in front of him, at least four or five of them during the entire process. It took us at least 10-15 minutes just to get to the turn. It was a _little_ better after that, until we got a bit closer and once again things closed to a stop.
I didn't check the exact times, but we spent at least 45 minutes from the time we got off the freeway to the time we parked, probably close to an hour. The parking lot was a mess too, there was a noted lack of people directing traffic and we wandered down a couple rows that were all completely full before finding out way to the back lot, basically a big dirt field with no guidelines. We parked at the end of one of the rows and headed in.
I do know that as we were walking from the lot to the gate it was around 8, because that was the point i complained on twitter about the total drive being almost exactly 4 hours (from Avalyn's starting point.) Avalyn hadn't eaten anything all day, so we stopped to get her some food and while i was waiting for that she went to use the restroom. (There was no way i was waiting in the huge line to go the men's restroom.)
Despite the fact that they were theoretically supposed to go on at 8 we only missed half of the first song before we got to our seats at 8:23 (according to twitter.) I'm not sure if they intentionally delayed things because of the mess out on the streets and in the parking lot or if it was just a convenient coincidence, but in any case i was grateful.
The Concert Itself:
They had a gimmick this tour. They started playing stuff from their latest album (which is admittedly pretty normal at a lot of concerts, though more so when it's a new album whereas Clockwork Angels is three years at this point,) and then proceeded to work backwards in time going through 15 of their 19 albums (not counting "Feedback", their cover album.)
They did Roll the Bones, accompanied by a video of several presumably famous people mouthing along to the lyrics. The only one of them i recognized was Peter Dinklage, and i wondered a bit how they roped him into it, until i found out later that his brother, Jonathan Dinklage, is a violinist who's performed with Rush before.
They played a selection from Cygnus X-1/Hempisphere. The entire thing would be either 18 minutes or 38 minutes, depending on if you wanted to include the segment from the end of Farewell to Kings, but i think this was the first time i'd heard them perform even a subset of it, which was pretty cool.
They did Jacob's Ladder, which really isn't one of my favorites but apparently they hadn't performed it live for 35 years before this tour, so that was kind of cool.
They "wrapped up" with 2112. It is pretty normal for them to play a couple segments of it at concerts, since as is the case with Cygnus X-1 it would be infeasible to do the whole 20 minute thing, but this time they added in an extra two segments that i don't think i've heard live before, so that was pretty awesome.
There was an encore of course. However fitting with the theme of the concert, the encore consisted of songs from the albums, in order, "Caress of Steel", "Fly by Night", and the eponymous "Rush".
After the first song of the encore i started thinking; Avalyn wasn't feeling too well, we were all the way in the back of the parking lot, and the encore was clearly going to be all my least favorite songs. (Given the changes Rush has gone through over the years i'm reasonably sure everyone has their own favorite periods, and the early stuff is not mine.)
So i decided we should bail early and try to get out of Dodge before the parking went to hell ...which was a nice theory.
The Traffic Out:
We were about halfway back to the parking lot when we heard them playing what turned out to be the second to last song, "Working Man". Which was kind of ironic given that a big part of the reason we were leaving early was that we both had work the next morning =P I'm informed that they played an unreleased track, "Garden Roads", after that, but either it was quieter than Working Man or we were too far away at that point to hear. They may also have done a closing video as well.
We got to the car and headed out, or at least tried to. Remember how i said this was an unpaved, unpainted, unregulated section? The cars were generally parked in lines, but they were not _straight_ lines. The first way i tried to get out two of the lines had meandered a little too close together for me to get through. So i turned down a lane, and at the end discovered that a single asshole had parked his car sticking out halfway into the "lane", preventing anyone from getting through. So i had to turn around (luckily there was a free spot) and ended up joining a small queue of people who'd found a break in one of the lines where two cars in a row had already left. We felt a little like ants blindly following a phermone trail of those who'd gone before, assuming that there was something good at the end.
We did make it out of the dirt lot and onto the paved area. We then made it somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4th of the way down the lane leading to the three lane "thoroughfare" through the parking lot to the exit. And then we stopped moving. For an hour.
Judging by the evidence pretty much the entire rest of the lot had cleared out by the time we finally started moving again. If i were being charitable i might believe that there were people directing traffic that prevented the people in the back from moving at all. But since i didn't see any such people until after we got out of the lot, right before we got to the main street, i'm thinking it was really just some people towards the back who just weren't aggressive enough.
One could argue that it makes sense to have everyone leave in order, but merging all the lanes together, however slowly that makes things go, seems a lot more fair to me.
But in any case, clearly i should have decided to jump ship earlier. If we'd started heading out right when 2112 ended we probably would have made it out before things locked up.
So we got out of the lot around... 12:45 i think? We stopped by my work so Avalyn could get her car, and we were home and in the process of heading to bed around 1:45 i think.
So aside from the traffic issues it was a great concert. (Too bad we didn't think to take a little time off work and get an early start.) I'm a little sad that we didn't get to hear Dreamline, though i have heard it in concert before. And i'm a little sad that there was nothing from Presto or Hold Your Fire, probably my two favorite albums, or Test For Echo, the first album that came out after i became an active fan.
We had some thoughts about going to the Saturday concert in LA at the Forum as well, assuming we could find last minute tickets, but we were both feeling pretty tired from a very busy week and just ended up staying home instead.
I've pondered whether i'll regret that, or regret not having gotten tickets for that concert instead in the first place, if this turns out to be their last tour. (They have said it was their last "major" tour, which leaves some wiggle room.) I've been to five other Rush concerts before this. Four of them were at the Amphitheatre. One of them was at a stadium in Anaheim (for some reason they didn't play the Irvine Amphitheatre in that tour.) The stadium concert was a pale shadow of the Amphitheatre concerts.
The show at the Forum might be their last concert, and it apparently had some celebrity appearances. But i go to concerts to see and hear Rush's music. In the end i'm okay with saying that i went to their last amphitheatre concert ever (in the same place i saw them at the first time, for a nostalgia bonus) rather than their last concert period.
But i do kind of regret that they didn't play "Losing It" at the Amphitheatre. It seems like they played it at about half the shows, LA won and Irvine lost. Given the subject matter of the song and the reasons for why this is probably their last big tour it must have made a very bittersweet performance =/
And finally, here are a couple links, for anyone who's curious, or for reference by myself later.
A review of the last show:
Some commentary about why it may be their last tour, period:
And a bunch of set lists, including the ones for this tour: