Why I Love: Steve Brown on Rush

Multi-instrumentalist, Steve Brown, recently released his Cosmic Ceilidh album under the Broon moniker. Listeners or even anyone taking a casual glance at the tracklisting (assuming a modicum of knowledge of classic rock bands) can’t have failed to notice a few clues as to his inspirations. He may have been tracking the mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar but his heart lies in something a little heavier. Find out why Davy Webb has a lot to answer for as Steve tells us why he loves Rush.

Peart, Lifeson, Lee – Rush

Rush have been an integral part of my life since I became Alex Lifeson in 2011.

Perhaps I should rephrase.

In 2011 I joined the Rush tribute band The Tobes Of Hades and since then my appreciation of Canada’s greatest rock band has continued to swell. The tribute band’s name changed to Moving Pictures and we’ve been gigging ever since.

My appreciation of Rush began when I was in High School and I borrowed some “heavy metal” LPs from my friend’s big brother. This was around 1980, I was 13, and up till that point I’d been into “lite punk” such as The Stranglers, The Jam and The Police (The The came later!) then Davy Webb loaned me Back In Black, Led Zep 4, Black Sabbath’s Greatest Hits and two Rush albums – 2112 and A Farewell To Kings. That was a baptism of fire. I still love every one of those albums to this day. Classics one and all. However, the mystery of those Rush album covers, the complexity of the music within, the variety of styles in even just the opening tracks. 2112 – my first experience of a concept album. All those mind-blowing sounds – made by 3 guys – in kimonos! Oh. My. Ged!! (sic)

Being a fledgling guitarist I was instantly drawn to the Lifeson licks. The next day I rushed out to the local record store, The Grapevine in Stirling, and bought Hemispheres (Nice Price with the gold star –I still have it – and a red vinyl – and a picture disc – all the CD remasters – the 40th anniversary box set!!). Intrigue was the name of the game and these lads pulled me in for the long haul.

Cut to 1983 – 24th of May – a strong date in the Rush world – and my first taste of live Rush – at Ingliston cattle market in Edinburgh. The sound was shocking but I didn’t care (nor, truth be told, do I recall thinking that on the night – so scrap that last remark – thems iz old guy’s words). It was the Signals tour and the band delivered. I’ve seen them on every UK tour since and from 2011 I started travelling abroad to catch some shows too. I was lucky to land a meet n greet at what would be my last chance to see them – in New Orleans on the R40 tour.

Rush and Lifeson in particular have been a huge influence in my life. I’ve played guitar since the age of 8 and turned professional in 1993 – making a living from playing covers, mainly in wedding bands but also in the aforementioned Rush tribute band Moving Pictures. Learning to play Lifeson’s parts is an ongoing challenge and I love it. Oftentimes when I listen to a song I think I know, something “new” jumps out at me. It’s the band that keeps on giving!

I started RUSHfest Scotland in 2013 – an annual fan convention which has so far raised over £50,000 for cancer charities. The latest project has been producing an album of Rush covers played by tribute bands from around the world. The 15 track TRIBUTES – SONGS FOR NEIL VOL.1 is out now on CD, DL and red LP. We had Jacob Moon, Terry Brown and Hugh Syme lined up to come to Scotland and be our VIPs in 2019 but COVID put a stop to that. Jacob’s wonderful version of Subdivisions is on the album and Terry and Hugh provided liner notes. Hugh also put some finishing touches to the wonderful cover. As ever all profits are going to charity and plenty copies are still available, only from www.RUSHfestScotland.co.uk/album

Here’s MOVING PICTURES own arrangement of AFTERIMAGE from that album:

Neil Peart’s passing was unlike anything I’d experienced before. A  person I had never met and yet I felt a real grief and profound sadness. He was more than a drummer. He was one of the best lyricists of our time, a mighty fine author and a damn fine gentleman. He oozed dignity, integrity, skill, diligence, grace and kindness. To quote another fan, Dean Cousins – “I never met you. So you never left me. And you never will.”

Here’s to keeping his legacy alive!

Rush forever.

Our thanks to Steve for taking the time to share his thoughts on a band so many of us love and miss dearly. Their legacy does live on and we’re not at all jealous of Steve….. pictured here with his mate and a couple of photo bombers.

Alex Lifeson, Steve Brown, Maurice Pickles, Geddy Lee. New Orleans R40 tour, 22 May 2015. (photo – Catherine Brown)

Broon online: Website / Facebook / Bandcamp

Check our Why I Love archive here (where you’ll find at least TWO more Rush features!)

You can follow At The Barrier on Twitter here, and like us on Facebook here. We really appreciate your continued support.

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