Not that it’s any big surprise at this point, but Geddy Lee recently re-affirmed the sad fact that Rush are over as a band in a new interview with the Toronto Sun. “Neil [Peart] insisted that [the 2015 R40 tour] was his last gig,” he said. “And you know, Alex [Lifeson] and I would look at each other and go, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, he’s just saying that.’ So I think we kind of knew, we should have known, it was the last show. But I think being eternal optimists we hoped that after a break we would be back out there. That never materialized.”
The 2015 tour took the novel approach of presenting the band’s music in reverse chronological order, meaning they began the show with songs from their most recent albums and slowly worked back to their earliest material. As time went backwards, stagehands would swap out the backdrop to match the period they were visiting. That meant by the time they reached the encores, it looked like they were playing in the high school gyms of their youth.
The tour wrapped up at the Forum in Los Angeles on August 1st, 2015. Here’s fan-shot video of the final encore of “Working Man” with a quick “Garden Road” tag at the end. “Thank you so much Los Angeles,” Lee tells the crowd when it’s done. “On behalf of the greatest crew and organization in the world, thank you United States of America for 40 awesome years and I do hope we’ll meet again sometime. Bye-bye.”
He was midway through delivering those words when Peart stunned him by running to the front of the stage to join him and Lifeson for a very quick bow. “I’ve never crossed what I call the back-line meridian,” the drummer said in the Rush tour documentary Time Stand Still. “I stay behind my drums and cymbals for 40 years and never go out front, never. It’s not my territory. Eventually, I talked myself into it. It was totally the right thing to do.”
Lee and Lifeson were still hoping at that point that Peart would agree to continue playing in Rush in some capacity, but he was adamant that the physical demands of touring were too hard on his body and he’d rather spend his time being a full-time father to his young daughter. Simply hiring another drummer wasn’t even a thought. “We always said that if the three of us aren’t on board, we don’t do a thing,” Lee said. “There have been other decisions in our career where the three of us weren’t on board and we didn’t do it. Nothing as profound as ending our touring life, but fair enough. So one guy doesn’t want to do that thing anymore that I love to do. That hurts. But there’s nothing I can do about it and that’s part of the agreement.”
Right now, Lee is on a worldwide tour promoting his new book Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass. A solo project of some sort is a possibility, but he hasn’t agreed to anything. “I’m reluctant to leave my family again,” he told the Toronto Sun. “So for me to do another musical project that would involve touring, etc., it would have to be something I feel really strongly about. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it. But I would have to be so charged up about it, it’s worth that separation.”