Watch the entirety of Rush’s blistering performance at the Capitol Theater in 1976
Some shows are just more memorable than others. That’s not to say that whole tours can’t be equally as magnetic, nor that performance can change mid-show, but the facts remain that some shows are for the history books and some write them. You can find Rush in the middle of one such show below.
We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you the full concert from one of the seminal moments in the careers of Geddy Lee, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson, AKA Rush. It sees them take the stage at New Jersey’s famous Capitol Theater and smash it out of the park.
The band are in full-noodling flow, taking their game up to a new level with a quite astounding performance that proved they were a band destined to stay in the hearts and minds of their fans for a long time to come—but it wasn’t how the band felt coming out on to the stage.
“Oh, wow. I remember that gig. Capitol Theater. Obviously, this was a really good time for us. We have staved off our demise,” remembers Geddy Lee with Rolling Stone. “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.”
Rush have never really been a radio-friendly band. More concerned with creative purity than commercial success, the band instead prided themselves on the best delivery method for their music being their live show. Judging by the footage, we’d find that hard to disagree with.
“I do remember this show. I used to love the theater gigs,” says Lee speaking with RS. “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.”
If there’s one thing the incessant gigging did was allow the band to get tighter and more connected than most other prog-rock outfits. It meant when they arrived at smaller venues they delivered a ginormous performance.“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 theater, 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.”
Despite this fact, the band were arguably in the form of their lives and quickly turned entire audiences into Rush fans over one single performance. The band’s bassist Lee remembers: “There was change in the air. You could feel there were things happening to us.” They certainly did.
Following this performance, the band’s rise, helped by the fantastic record 2112, gathered pace skyward and yet still burrowed its way into the deep recesses of spectacular fandom. Rush may well be the biggest band you’ve never heard on the radio and that’s because to hear it live is to experience it properly.
Below, get to enjoy the real deal as Rush take to the stage back in 1976.