May 24, 2023 - News

Greatest Cleveland concerts: No. 12 – Rush's Time Machine

Members of Rush perform on stage.

Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee get "Rushified" in Cleveland. Photo: Paul Warner/WireImage

Rush performed in Northeast Ohio more than 30 times, but it was the band's April 15, 2011, concert that would forever be immortalized.

Flashback: Cleveland became the first U.S. market to endorse Rush when WMMS music director Donna Halper put the song "Working Man" into heavy rotation after she got her hands on the Canadian band's self-titled debut album in spring 1974.

The big picture: When Rush's first U.S. headlining tour stopped in Cleveland on Aug. 26, 1974, it drew a sold-out crowd at the Agora and aired live on WMMS' airwaves.

  • Within three years, the band would be headlining larger venues such as Allen Theatre, Public Auditorium and Richfield Coliseum.

The intrigue: Rush's relationship with Cleveland continued for several decades, culminating with the band's 2011 Time Machine Tour.

What they're saying: "Because of the ties the band had to this area with WMMS, people were losing their minds about it," Cleveland music historian Peter Chakerian tells Axios.

  • "Cleveland's Rush fans were set up for a historical night."

What they heard: The show featured typical fan favorites, including "The Spirit of Radio" and "Freewill," followed by Rush's landmark album "Moving Pictures" in its entirety — a rarity for the band.

  • Rush closed things out with "Working Man," the song that had consumed local airwaves 37 years earlier.

The bottom line: "I never thought when seeing the band in my preteens I'd one day be at a show being filmed in Cleveland," Chakerian says. "It's hard to even put into words."

Go deeper: No. 13 – Chrissie Hynde's revenge tour


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