Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson might not be any closer to going back out on the road together and performing Rush classics but, having admitted that the subject is “no longer taboo”, Lee revealed that even Paul McCartney has tried to persuade them to get back on tour.
In a recent appearance on the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast, Lee said Dave Grohl introduced him and Lifeson to McCartney after their set at the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Geddy and Lifeson performed a trio of Rush classics, with Dave Grohl on drums for 2112 Part 1: Overture and Working Man, Omar Hakim drumming on YYZ, and McCartney watching on. After which they proceeded to get “plastered” backstage while McCartney bent Lifeson’s ear and tried to convince him not to give up on the road just yet.
“He was so warm and embracing and positive,” said Lee. “He came and sat and drank with us. We all got plastered together. And he was very emphatic. I said, ‘Talk to Al, because he’s the stubborn one.’ And so he was lecturing Al about how great it is to tour. ‘You have to do it, man. You have to get back out there, man.’”
Rush’s final gig came on 1 August 2015, at the Los Angeles Forum, the last date on their R40 Live Tour. Drummer and chief lyricist Neil Peart died in 2020. In August 2022, Lifeson and Lee played at the South Park 25 Anniversary show at Red Rocks Ampitheatre in Morrison, Colorado.
But there are many reasons why a tour might be some way off. Lifeson has some health issues, undergoing surgery for some stomach trouble. “He has some health issues, he has arthritis as well,” said Lee. “It’s harder for him to reproduce those solos in the way that he wants to.”
Furthermore, Lifeson just wasn’t enjoying the road anymore, and while Lee could keep himself amused, the road miles wore heavily on his bandmate.
“So that’s a stumbling block and at this stage of his life, considering that he has some concerns about his health, it’s very hard for him to get his head around the idea of doing a tour,” said Lee. “I just keep working on him.”
So, too, did McCartney. His powers of persuasion almost worked but then you have to take the alcohol into account.
“Alex said something like, ‘I’ll do it, if you’ll be our manager,’” said Lee. To which McCartney replied, “I’ll manage you, mate!”
That would be a tour worth watching. We can probably rule out Sir Paul McCartney shepherding a touring production across the Continental United States, locating lost mandolin strings in the middle of Austin, but there’s hope still that Lee and Lifeson will perform. It probably won’t be under that name – “‘Lee and Lifeson Play the Songs of Rush.’ That really sounds like an old-fart Eighties band,” said Lee.
In July this year, Epiphone unveiled a new signature guitar that it developed with Lifeson – the Epiphone Alex Lifeson Les Paul Custom Axcess offering an upscale take on the impressive Axcess Standard