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What Was The Reason For The All The Worlds A Stage Tour

Cygnus X1

I have always wondered why they had The All The Worlds a Stage Tour from 76-77. When looking at the Setlist from both ATWAS and 2112 Tour, they are the exact same. Why would they have this tour instead of just continuing the 2112 Tour through to '77
This is going to be a bit of a long answer but I think all these details are important to your question. It really IS all the same tour, which is why in my notes for recordings I point out the ATWAS tour is just the continuation of the 2112 tour. We have to remember a lot of Rush's earlier touring history was documented online by fans many decades ago, Rush does not have cut-and-dry documentation to paint a clear picture of the history. Remember the whole topic about the ending of the Caress of Steel tour being wrong? Before anyone brings up the official website: the info there is very outdated and FULL of errors, and guess where they sourced all that info from when the Rush website was rebuilt? The old tour listing on the Power Windows fansite. The Power Windows site does not have the tour listing up anymore, but the owner Eric Hansen was co-author of the "Wandering the Face of the Earth" book, which IS officially recognized and sold on the official store, and currently is the most up to date source of touring information. This is all like ancient archeology: lost history that is steadly uncovered piece by piece over time. There are still many questions unanswered.

So that preliminary is out of the way. The way a lot of the 70s and early 80s tours are split up is a bit more complicated than it maybe has to be, especially in this 2112/ATWAS instance. Part of that is I think because a tour that lasted from March 1976 to June 1977 is extremely long. The band did take multiple lengthier breaks during the tour. First between June 18 and July 6, second between July 29 and August 8, third between November 4 and November 13, fourth in 1977 between March 23 and April 8, and fifth between May 22 and June 1.

I don't personally agree with the currently accepted starting date of the ATWAS tour either, August 8, the setlists were very likely still the same and it was still over seven weeks before the ATWAS album was released. The break between July 29 and August 8 was so the band could help work on the final mixing of the ATWAS album recorded in June, so that's why the book has that as the transition date between tours. If anything I get indications it should be November 13 as the start date, if we're splitting into two tours. It was the break closest to the release of the ATWAS album, AND this is when things substantially started to change. The Twilight Zone was recently added to the setlist, and before the end of December they'd bring back The Necromancer. They are NOT the same setlists, take a look at these detailed posts we worked on for 2112 tour setlists and ATWAS tour setlists. There is a steady evolution of the setlists between that entire span. As of that November 13 date, Geddy is now also using the Moog Taurus synth pedals added to Lakeside Park and By-Tor (and used for The Twilight Zone).

Would it be simpler to have it all as one tour? Yes, it's less confusing on the surface. Though it would make it an extremely long tour, longer than any others, and would feature more setlist changes than any others. Under the name of all one tour, that would encompass a lot of changes to have to explain to someone when discussing only one tour, because there is a big difference comparing the beginning of the 2112 tour with the end of the ATWAS tour. Also you have to consider lot of change in gear, like the Taurus pedals as mentioned, but also Geddy getting his doubleneck Rickenbacker in December 1976 to play rhythm guitar on The Necromancer (and later Xanadu). Especially when they introduce an early version of Xanadu on April 24 or 1977, at that point even more has changed. Neil has his new larger black Slingerland drum kit with more bells, etc, and Geddy has his Minimoog. Radically different.

It's also worth noting that Rush was concurrently touring to promote both 2112 and All The World's A Stage after its release. Geddy even makes somewhat of a reference to this in all the 2112/ATWAS recordings when he introduces 2112. Geddy will say things like "side one from our new album" or "latest album" for earlier shows, and then "our last album" or "last studio album" for the later ATWAS era recordings.

You can apply similar logic to the Exit Stage Left tour and the various short "warm-up tours", they're all technically extensions of the previous big tours following an extended break from the road. In cases like that, it's annoying to see a warm-up tour grouped with the NEXT tour rather than the previous, as it is on the official site. Since those are all unique in their way, being mainly the previous big tour's setlist but with early versions of new songs, it makes sense to have them categorized as their own thing, it makes it easiest to explain. Otherwise you'd have people thinking they played Subdivisions on the Moving Pictures tour, for example, that's part of why these things are in place the way they are. At the least, no one talks about the "Archives tour" being a thing anymore, which was literally just the exact same A Farewell To Kings setlist, and was only to add an extra month of dates at the end of theAFTK tour when the Archives set was released.

So in conclusion, if anyone wants to call the ATWAS tour the 2112 tour, you are not wrong. Some people get critical about when other people do or don't call it the ATWAS tour, and in this instance, it really is not a big deal.