Review by Paddy Gallagher for MPM
Before I go any further, put 1st November 2024 in your diaries as that is the date Moving Pictures return to The Nerve Centre next year! You seriously need to see this band.!!
It was a dark, cold, and wet Monday this year when they left vapour trails over Glenshane Pass as they travelled from Sunday night’s reportedly excellent gig in The Limelight (aptly named for a Rush influenced gig) in Belfast to set up in The Nerve Centre, Derry for 3 hours of sublime music paying tribute to the biggest cult band in the world, Rush!
Now, there are bands you can pay tribute to in a er, tribute band and make life easy for yourself. Then there are bands you can pay tribute to in a tribute band and require an extremely high level of musicianship, and spending hours patiently practicing so that you can reach the required levels of skill it takes to emulate your musical heroes.
To reach the levels required to model yourself and pay homage to the members of Rush takes years of practice and oodles of talent. There’s no doubting Steve Brown, Eóin de Paor and Jamie Dunleavey have served their time learning their trade and developing their skills to honour Lerxst, Dirk and The Professor. Tonight, we were treated to a masterclass in precision that deservedly puts Moving Pictures at the front of the Rush Tribute circuit!
The “An evening with…” format is followed with tonight’s gig lasting 3 hours comprising of 2 sets with a 10-minute break. We start with the keyboard based “Subdivisions” from the “Signals” album released in 1982 with Eóin replicating Geddy Lee’s multi-tasking on bass and keyboards which is followed by Steve’s guitar playing the familiar intro to the fabulous “Freewill”. Even the bass line during the chorus is instantly recognisable to Rush fans who have a habit of knowing every bass line, drum fill, cymbal crash etc!
The next stop is the “Hemispheres” album from 1978, after “Prelude” we recount the tale of the formation of the Union of Maples in “The Trees” and the instrumental “La Villa Strangiato”. The three bandmates make playing these songs look so easy, which it is far from being!!
The physicality and concentration needed to reproduce music of this standard is utmost, and to perform 3-hour gig three nights in a row, plus a ferry crossing thrown into the mix (presuming the Newton Stewart gig on Saturday was the Newton Stewart in Dumfries and Galloway, not the Newton Stewart in Co. Tyrone) takes a special devotion, not that the band members are struggling, the smiles all round showing how much they love this music.
We have Jamie on drums who would surely get a nod of approval from The Professor himself for her faithful reproduction of his work; up front we have Steve and Eóin fully immersed in their Alex and Geddy roles, complete with nifty guitar work from Steve who doesn’t miss a note when his guitar strap has a slight malfunction to Eóin who bares an uncanny resemblance to the man himself, Mr Geddy Lee. He has his instruments set up as Geddy would, the glasses and the way he peers over them Geddy style to facial expressions to the interaction between him and Steve bringing back memories of Alex and Geddy cavorting around a stage. Really, the only thing missing is the odd oven slowly cooking a chicken or a washing machine.
As the first half of tonight’s gig progresses, we are treated to cuts from various stages of Rush’s career including “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” from 1975’s “Fly By Night” album right up to “BU2B” from 2012’s “Clockwork Angels”.
After approximately 80 minutes the band head off stage for a deserved breather and those of us in the crowd not driving a Red Barchetta (or near equivalent) home joined their fellow Canadian 3-piece enthusiasts in the bar as refills of glasses were achieved before the lights dimmed for the second half of tonight’s performance.
This half of the gig is based around the “Moving Pictures” album from 1981 which is played in its entirety from the familiar keyboard intro to “Tom Sawyer” to album closer “Vital Signs” before the roar of appreciation from the crowd increased in volume when the first notes of “2112 Part 1” raised the question of whether we would get the whole 21-minute suite? We didn’t, but we got “Overture” and had a sing along to “The Temples of Syrinx”, no complaints though as time was marching on and with curfew at 11.00pm there were a few more golden nuggets to be dug out from the Torontonian’s discography. After “The Analog Kid” we gave our vocal cords, another airing during “Closer To the Heart” but in fairness the Glasgow Chorus from the Apollo Theatre in 1980 need not be concerned although we gave it a go!
Before closer “Xanadu” Steve thanks everyone for coming out on a Monday night, with everyone in the sizable crowd thinking its Steve, Eóin and Jamie that need thanked for bringing this spectacle to the Maiden City. And what Rush tribute could be paid without 1st encore “The Spirit of Radio”? Hands in the air time again folks, punching and clapping in unison!
The band had a good selection of merchandise with them with some nice tour tees, beanies etc. Also, if you go onto their website, https://movingpicturesuk.com, there is links to various Rush related sites including Rushfest Scotland, http://www.rushfestscotland.co.uk, a now annual fan convention that raises funds for charities close to the Rush family’s hearts.
The Nerve Centre is a cracking venue, it’s been a few years since I was in it but if more bands venture northwest over Glenshane Pass it won’t be as long the next time. Worst case scenario we have less than 1 year until Moving Pictures return, scheduled for Friday 1st November 2024, yes folks it is on a Friday so no workie-poos the next day for most of us, go forth and tell everyone and let’s get the venue packed for their next visit!! After their visit to Canada at the invitation of Neil Peart’s family you know you are getting a tribute band at the top of their game. As Steve said, let’s continue supporting live music!