It’s time to indulge ourselves with a treat from memory lane as we revisit Rush’s scintillating performance of the epic ‘In The Mood’ live from New Jersey’s Capitol Theatre in 1976.
Canadian rockers Rush had begun to garner a reputation as one of the finest touring bands over the years prior to this show. Following the late Neil Peart joining the group on drums, a figure who added another dimension to their sound, the band’s live output was at a peak of its power.
Their debut self-titled debut record in 1974 didn’t sell many copies upon release but thanks to incessant touring, Rush not only made a name for themselves in Canada but, also in the United States. By 1976, they had become masters of performing.
To round off the year in style, on December 10th, Rush took to the famed Capitol Theatre stage as they toured their prog-rock triumph 2112, which again, didn’t perform well commercially at the time but when they performed it live, the reception from the crowds was nothing short of magnificent—a factor which later convinced Mercury Records not to drop them as previously planned.
‘In The Mood’, which featured on their 1974 debut, was a staple of the band’s live set from the moment of its inception and all the way through to 1992 when it was permanently dropped. The song, interestingly, was written by frontman Geddy Lee who preferred to leave the songwriting to Peart upon his arrival.
Alex Lifeson spoke to Rolling Stone in 2016 about why he and Geddy preferred to let Peart write the lyrics, with the two founding members instead focussing on the music, which is the lifeblood of Rush: “I think that was about two weeks after he joined actually [laughs]. I really wasn’t interested in writing lyrics. Around the first record, John Rutsey, our original drummer, was the lyricist, but for some weird reason, he didn’t want to use his lyrics on all these songs that we had his lyrics on when we went into the studio.”
Adding: “It was really strange; he was a very, very odd guy sometimes. So Geddy and I put together the lyrics. But it took away from where we wanted to concentrate, which was on the music.”
The song really came into its own during live performances and it’s a shame that the band stopped playing it in 1992. However, it was a highlight from their beautiful short but sweet set in the winter of ’76 in New Jersey. It’s a show that over 40 years later, frontman Geddy Lee still remembers vividly despite playing live on an infinite number of occasions since.
Lee disclosed to Rolling Stone: “Oh, wow. I remember that gig. Capitol Theatre. Obviously, this was a really good time for us. We have staved off our demise. In late 1975 early 1976, we definitely thought we were going down the drain. We honestly thought this was going to be our last album. When it came out, it was mostly word-of-mouth. It wasn’t getting much airplay, obviously. But you could tell there was a buzz amongst fans when we played it. We were feeling very optimistic.”
He went on to discuss further that period in the band’s career when it was all up in the air as to what the future held for Rush: “I do remember this show. I used to love theatre gigs. I remember they had a very good caterer at that particular venue. You remember gigs sometimes by what you ate before you went on. This is just two years after the first video, but it was a big two years. A lot of growing up. We were on tour all the time. We were doing over 200 shows a year, probably in excess of that. We didn’t take much time off. We did back-to-back-to-back-to-back shows. At one point, I remember someone counted that we did 17 one-nighters in a row, 17 different cities.”
Lee continued: “We were headlining at this point, but very small venues. This was just as we were becoming a headliner. We couldn’t headline big venues, but we could play places like this theatre, and they were often multi-act shows to get people to come out. We weren’t selling a ton of tickets, so we needed help to get people out. There was change in the air. You could feel there were things happening to us… Where do they get videos like this?”
Watch the incredible footage from that night, below.