My friends graciously dropped me off in front of the venue before turning left down Montgomery to go find parking.
LateRally's advice was spot-on. They found a free spot just South of Park.
While they were parking, after having checked the box office, which was selling tickets behind the stage and added floor tickets back beyond the mixing board, all over-priced for my blood, I posted myself next to the "hotdog girl" and began asking if anyone had an extra. Eventually, probably after asking 100 times, a dude did. "She couldn't make it" was his explanation. He asked $40. At the time, I thought this was fairly close to face value, but that's because I hadn't memorized the map very well. Turns out it was a $96 ticket (not listed on his pdf print-out). T'was up in 215. Very nice view, somewhat awkward sound. The sound was tremendously improved by partially inserting a foamy earplug in my left ear. This cleared up the bass range considerably. Like with the Beatles, sometimes you can't beat mono... Found out my buddies were in the same section and had an open seat next to them, so I sat with them after my piss break.
So, the show... The concept of retrograding the stage the entire night is very cool. Read the write-up I posted in this forum for more details. The lasers and the disco ball were particularly cool. A little pyro is always nice.
Al's playing was pretty good. I only caught one train-wreck all night, during Hemi, and I think it was Alex, possibly confused by the alternate key - sounded like he played a brief section in the original key to these ears. He approached several solos quite differently than ever before. Not sure if that is due to just being bored of playing them the same old way or if he adopted patterns and motions that are physically less painful. I didn't notice much in the way of flubbing, so, good for him. Neil sounded on-point all night. Ged's playing sounded fine. Ged's voice? Well... I think it's fair to say that he has adopted something that "works" and gets him through, show to show, with minimal yodeling/unintentional voice breaks.
It is, however, just not a great rock sound. His live voice now has more in common with Barbara Streisand than Robert Plant. "It is what it is and whatever..."
Highlights of the night: Jacob's Ladder, Natural Science, Xanadu - dual double-necks and taurus pedals, Cygnus X-1, Lakeside Park, Anthem, What You're Doing, Garden Road snippet and set 1 being over. They played JL, NS, Cyggy and Xan with authoriTAY. They played the remainder serviceably. No gems in set 1. For every excited fan, I saw dozens who were bored. Every song in the first set was a piss break for someone, with the exception of the nutty few.
By the time Animate hit the arena was 1/3 empty and stayed that way, largely, through to the intermission. I went piss during Animate/RtB and the lobby area was PACKED. Alcohol lines were long. People watering their depression due to the giant fah que they were getting from a favorite band. This could explain why even songs during SET 2 were also piss breaks. Even Xanny and NS were piss breaks for many. Too much dranky-drank during set 1... Maybe they need to start making Rush brand Depends disposable undergarments for the shows!!! Or raise the price of beers to $30? Hemi prelude fell flat for me. The alternate key was hard to get used to. Also, throw in Armageddon and Cygnus or something. We've heard 3 or 4 parts of 2112 tons of times. Maybe restrict that to just the Overture to make more time for something rarer... Also, with all the mini drum solos, it would have been cool to have Didacts & Narpets between Lakeside and Anthem. With the way Peart was triggering samples of HF and Cyg for those mini solos, it could have worked very well.
I ran in to Mac! That was very cool. I also saw the owner of Working Man Brewery and had a chance to talk to him for a sec. He had just gotten out of his M&G. I hope EZ and Paige also had good times.
The "HAY" horse was funny.
The videos were endurable.
Glad I went. Ready to go in to full-enjoy mode for LV. Given the pattern Rush have set for this tour, they are likely to swap-out 2 - 4 songs from set 1.