Out of all the great bands that I saw in the 70’s, the one band that I really felt a connection to greater than any other was Rush. They really struck a nerve. Part of it was that they were local, as all the other big bands of the day were either from the US or England. I grew up and went to high school in St. Catharines, which is only about 1 hour away from Toronto, and is where Neil Peart went to high school, and where Lakeside Park is, so there was a really big feeling of connection to the band. My friends and I made trips to Toronto on a regular basis, and we looked forward to visiting the big record stores and head shops (loved that smell!) looking for import albums, cool posters and T-Shirts.
On one trip with two friends – Jamie and Les - we even met Geddy Lee in A&A’s (a record store – HMV is there now) on Yonge St. We were at the back looking around and we see this guy a couple of aisles over with long hair. He has a huge pile of albums and is looking through the bins for more. We thought… hey, that looks like - but no, it couldn’t be. With all that hair hanging in the way it was really hard to get a good look, so finally after 5 minutes or so, I just walked up and asked “Excuse me, but are you who I think you are?” He just said “Depends – who do you think I am?” Woo hoo it was him in the flesh! So I got his autograph on a piece of paper, and Jamie quickly runs back to the Rush section, grabs a copy of Hemispheres, rips off the plastic, “Can you sign this please?” And he did. What a thrill!
Anyway, for this show, Jamie had the foresight to suggest taping it. So we stopped at a restaurant before heading to the Gardens and Jamie stuffed the recorder down the front of his pants. Hmm – doesn’t look quite right dude, your crotch is all square looking. So we ended up stuffing half a roll of toilet paper down there with it to make it look more round and so you couldn’t see the edges. We got in with no problem, but our hearts were racing. We made a quick trip to the bathroom to unstuff his crotch and then got to our seats. Jamie took the middle position so Les and I could block the view on either side. He had his jacket unzipped and held the recorder just inside his coat throughout the show. We were able to successfully change tapes without getting caught, and didn’t miss any of the music. One of us held a lighter so we could see and the other helped Jamie switch the tape. Considering we were total rookies, I thought we pulled it off pretty good.
It was a great show, the crowd was really pumped and into it, and it was great listening to the tape in the car on the way home. I must apologize that you can hear us talking a few times during the show. That’s me at the beginning of By-Tor (By-Tor ahhhhhhh!!!!), and Les saying “I got it” near the beginning of A Farewell To Kings (he got a picture of the flashpots going off when the heavy section starts). Two of Les’s pictures from that night are used on the back cover. Jamie did give us the death stare a few times (quit talking you knobs!!!). Sorry, but at the time, we weren’t thinking that almost 30 years later, the tape would still be around and others would be interested in hearing it. As for highlights, for me it’s Cygnus - still one of my favourite songs. After the spoken beginning and then you have the spacey chimes bit – then that bass riff comes in. Whoa - God that was awesome – it gave me chills. To this day when I hear that song, that’s the first thing I think of.
As for the tapes, Jamie had the master and Les & I both had the only copies ever made. Those guys have long since misplaced/lost their copies, so my tape is the only one to survive, and it has sat in my closet or stereo cabinet for all these years. I had gotten out of bootleg collecting for the longest time, and didn’t give the tape any real thought. It wasn’t until BitTorrent software came along and I started getting tons of incredible shows that I thought I should try and get it out to others. So here it is. Many many thanks to Jeff at SMP Productions for all his hard work at bringing it back to life and getting it sounding better. I’ve listened to the tape a number of times over the years, and I’m so glad we recorded the show. It always brings back great memories of an awesome night with two of my best friends. I hope that you enjoy listening to this as much as I do.