I won’t lie: this last month has been a tough one.  After successfully getting moved into my new place in Beaverton, and with Oaks Park closing its doors for the winter, something in me just bottomed out.  Maybe it’s the quieter pace of Beaverton, or the fact that my new day job has me on a more solid routine, but I found myself very grumpy and listless.  It also didn’t help I was so exhausted from the move and from working all the time that finishing the latest “Oh Goodie!” story took longer than expected, with me hitting more mental blocks than I had preferred, especially since I had had this script completed months in advance.

…And then Portland’s infamous rainy season started.  I had to kit myself out with $60 worth of rain gear just so I could get around on my bicycle.  Oh that did a lot for my demeanor.

So needless to say I jumped at the chance to catch a red eye flight to Boston to see Rush‘s “Clockwork Angels Tour” with my friend Hal and his son Ben.  Hal had been kind enough to invite me along to a show at Madison Square Garden in New York when we met last year at the MoCCA Festival, and after my extreme enjoyment of the “Clockwork Angels” album inspired me to review every Rush album in order (which has also been delayed due to recent activities), I was dying to see this show.

As per usual though, I had started to build up this innocent little boy’s night out in my head more than I should.  Really, it was the flight itself I was dwelling over.  I’ve spent six months in Portland, and am finally digging in my heels for the time being.  And this was the first time I was leaving since I had arrived.  I wasn’t sure how to feel, if anything.

What’s more…well, for reasons I can’t explain, I had been dwelling on my own mortality more than usual.  Just before the flight I had spoken to my mother and she had told me a close friend of hers (a woman I had known) had passed away from cancer.  And for my Rush reviews, I was going over Neil Peart’s book “Ghost Rider”, which talks about him dealing with his grief after his wife and daughter had passed away within the span of a year.

I had some dark things on my mind getting on this plane, like things were closing in and coming to a crescendo.  I rode the MAX Red Line to Portland International Airport like it was a funeral barge.  I sent out texts here and there touching base with people and letting them know I was thinking about them.

I got on the plane and…

…The girls across from me wouldn’t shut up (even though it was midnight when we took off), the flight crew wouldn’t stop rattling about, and I couldn’t get enough leg room to comfortably sleep before we landed.  It was like every other red eye flight I’ve ever taken.  Once again, I was being a huge dork and worrying over nothing.

I had only been to Boston once seven years ago, and even then I never left Logan Airport because me and my father were catching a transfer flight to Ireland.  I had been to Salem (where my sister got married a hundred feet away from the Witch Trial monuments) and to New Bedford (where my sister lives with her husband Nick and two children), but not to Boston.  I quickly learned that Dunkin Donuts and Roast Beef sandwich shops rule the landscape.  My kind of people.

The girl at the check-in desk at the hotel with an adorable Southie accent let me into the room early and I promptly passed out until Hal arrived from his flight four hours later.  After a quick dash to Kelly’s for some fried clam strips and “chow-dah”, we headed over to Tufts University to pick up his son Ben, where he’s majoring in Music (something I commemorated with a commission at Hal’s request last year).

It wouldn’t be a photo of me without an awkward smile.

I had never been to Boston’s TD Garden before, but already it had points over Madison Square by having decent cell phone reception (gots to send me my tweets during the show).  We were surprised and delighted to see we were on ground level around the perimeter of the main floor (where you’d be up against the plexiglass at a hockey game).  We were far stage right, within panty-throwing distance of Geddy Lee himself.  I was even close enough to get a decent picture of his gear before the band came on stage.

You do NOT want to know the things I would do to those bass guitars if I got them alone.

I have no other comment except that this guy came with THREE OTHER SIGNS.

The show itself…what can I say?  It was more than worth the trip.  The first half had a set list that felt like I had programmed it, very heavy on their 80’s synth period (my personal favorite era of theirs), with half of “Power Windows” alone played.  Rush themselves is playing with an energy and spark I’ve rarely seen in them before, and you could tell they were having the time of their lives.  The string section they had hired for the “Clockwork Angels” songs added a whole new dimension, especially on classics like “YYZ” or “Red Sector A”.  A big thing for me with this show was the lights and the rear projection.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a set-up more spectacular than this one, and Rush has already set a high standard in the past.  Feel free to take a look at the pictures I took below and tell me what you think.

I can scarcely describe how grateful I am to Hal.  After all I’ve been through this summer, this was the best reward I could have asked for.  Nothing like good friends and my favorite band to get on top of your boo boo.