Concert Review: Rush – Presto Tour April 2, 1990

Rush Presto Tour Review

Thirty-years ago today I attended my first concert.

Which was also my first Rush concert. Presto tour.

Coincidentally, I saw the Rush Presto tour at the Forum in Los Angeles, the location of Rush’s final concert, of which I was also in attendance.

April 2, 1990 was a glorious day.

I don’t have the memory as blogger friend Deke, over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock, has who regularly mines his thoughts for bygone tours but I wanted to share what I remember on this 30th anniversary of the Rush Presto tour that I attended.

(In a bit of candor, though I may have written this review anyway, as you know concerts remain on hold indefinitely. This won’t be a regular concert review and you may find it a bit silly but nonetheless, hopefully I’ll, as my former editor urged me to do, “show, don’t tell” about that day.)

Rush Presto Tour Review

Rush Presto Tour Ticket
Check out the price of the ticket!

The Rush tickets were a gift for my pending birthday. I was hardly a new Rush fan and my intensity for their music was already annoyingly strong to those who didn’t understand. You also have to understand, for this collector personality, finding Rush memorabilia in the 80s was like finding a $100 bill on the ground. You just didn’t come across Rush stuff all that much especially the authentic collectibles.

I went with my brother’s, at the time, best friend, who did not care for me all that much. I was the annoying little brother. His birthday was on or around the concert date and the tickets were given to us by my brother’s then girlfriend. (My brother was in college, if you’re wondering.) So, yeah, kind of weird to go with a guy who pretty much couldn’t stand me.

But that’s OK. I was there to see Rush.

My first memory of this evening has me heading towards the merch booth. Words fail when trying to describe the feeling of seeing every authentic Rush memorabilia you could want. Rush shirts, Rush poster, Rush buttons, Rush tour book. Rush was everywhere and I wanted all of it.

Cover of Rush Presto Tour book
Rush Presto Tour Book – Photo at top also from the book

Take my money please.

Even the smell of the shirts was most pleasing. They held this bright, crisp look that dazzled as I gazed upon them (then quickly succumbed to the washer). I had found a Rush gold mine of epic proportions.

We sat in the nosebleeds, of course, and I recall wondering how the people up front managed to score those tickets. Would I ever sit that close to Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart at a Rush concert? (It would take 25 years but yes I managed to do so.)

Mr. Big opened but I have nary a memory of them. Then the lights dimmed. The crowd burst into roar. We all stood in unison. Rush was coming to the stage. My legs went numb. I know, I know, that sounds really lame.  But for this 16 year old, seeing Rush live as my first concert – it doesn’t get any better than that.

Much of the evening remains a blur. I know I air drummed and air guitared all throughout the show much to the annoyance (I am sure) to my brother’s overly mature friend. I remember the dancing rabbits and I really enjoyed the version of “In the Mood” Rush played that night. Geddy Lee did a cool redub of his voice on “Scars” for the chorus “Scars of pleasure, Scars of Pain, pain, pain.” A great song I don’t think I heard again live after that tour.

That’s about it as far as memories. I had my mementos that I saw Rush and I was on a high for days (not that high but maybe a little as it was pretty rampant back then). Oh, another memory, my brother’s friend asking the guy next to him to smoke his J the other way. And the guys hawking pirated Rush concerts shirts after the show. They got pretty close to the real deal! Not for me.

An old and new Rush Presto tour shirts
Presto Tour Shirts – one very well worn the other still brand new

At any rate, you’d have to pry the two Presto tour shirts I bought out of my cold dead hands. I pretty much wore them to death. The black one (above) did not fare very well. I bought a second one for safe keeping either that night or when they returned for the second leg of the Presto tour that summer at Irvine Meadows. I have a third one that remains wearable and of course the gray Presto shirt with the rabbit coming out of the hat. I wore the still-new Rush Presto tour shirt to their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Well, wouldn’t you know? I have just learned the Time Stand Still documentary (that remains shrink- wrapped on my shelf as I have not opened yet – just never got around to watching it) features video from the Presto tour. In due time I suppose. I have yet to listen to Rush since Neil Peart died.

So, if you got this far, tell me about your first concert!

Rush Presto Tour Setlist at The Forum:

  1. Force Ten
  2. Freewill
  3. Distant early Warning
  4. Time Stand Still
  5. Subdivisions
  6. Marathon
  7. Red Barchetta
  8. Superconductor
  9. Show Don’t Tell
  10. The Pass
  11. Closer to the Heart
  12. Manhattan Project
  13. Xanadu
  14. YYZ
  15. Drum Solo
  16. Scars
  17. War Paint
  18. Mission
  19. Tom Sawyer
  20. The Spirit of Radio
  21. 2112 Overture
  22. La Villa Strangiato
  23. In the Mood