The opening night of Rush’s 2002 summer tour was perhaps the most emotional gig in the group’s long history. The prog trio spent the previous five years in a state of suspended animation while drummer Neil Peart dealt with the devastating emotional aftermath of the loss of his wife and teenage daughter in the course of a single year. He spent the time driving around North America on his motorcycle, never playing the drums and barely even thinking about the future of Rush.
It was unclear if he’d ever want to play music again, but in early 2001 Peart was in a much better place with the help of his new wife, photographer Carrie Nuttall. Rush slowly began recording their 17th album Vapor Trails and they booked an extensive summer tour in 2002 to support the disc.
The tour kicked off at Hartford, Connecticut’s Meadows Music Center on June 28th. Rush fans from all over the world flocked to the amphitheater to see the show, and some were in tears before it even started. The removal of a tarp from Peart’s drum kit even caused thunderous applause. The show was a tremendous success and they’ve worked steadily ever since. Here’s a performance of the Counterparts deep cut “Between the Sun and Moon” from that gig. It’s the first time they ever played the song live.
The Who’s John Entwistle died the day before the show, so the performance was dedicated to his memory. His bass playing was a big influence on Geddy Lee. Two years later, Rush recorded a cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” that was heavily inspired by the Who’s rendition of the song.