Rush focuses on a classic, new project

Band, which is working on latest CD, will play all of ‘Moving Pictures’ on tour

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If you go

What: Rush, in concert.

When: 7:30 p.m. June 28.

Where: Sleep Country Amphitheater, 17200 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

Cost: $39.30-$100.75 through Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

Information: 360-816-7000 or sleepcountryamphitheater.com.

Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson remembers one overriding mood that came with the making of “Moving Pictures,” the 1981 album that became the band’s most popular release — fun.

“It was a very positive experience,” Lifeson said. “We had a lot of fun and we had great direction. We did some writing in the studio. All the sounds came together. There was a great buoyant feeling to the whole experience.”

That experience is relevant now, 30 years after the album’s release, for a couple of reasons. First, Rush is playing that album, which included the hit singles “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight,” in its entirety on its current tour.

Also, there seems to be a parallel between the “Moving Pictures” project and the experience Lifeson and his bandmates (singer/bassist Geddy Lee and drummer Neil Peart) have had so far in working on a new studio album, tentatively called “Clockwork Angels.”

“We’ve got this great feeling of promise for this album and some of the material on it,” Lifeson said. “I think it’s all going to work out really great.”

For now the focus is on the live show, designed to be an epic evening of Rush music for fans. As on recent tours, the band is playing two sets totaling three hours.

But playing “Moving Pictures” in its entirety is a new twist.

The idea was proposed by drummer Peart after he saw Steely Dan performing one of its own albums on a recent tour.

Rush had already settled on doing “The Camera Eye,” the longest song on “Moving Pictures,” for this tour, so the band decided to stick with that album when Peart suggested following Steely Dan’s example.

But that’s not all that music fans will hear if they turn out at the Sleep Country Amphitheater in Ridgefield on June 28.

“There are two new songs we’re doing (‘Caravan’ and ‘BU2B’), plus a bunch of stuff we haven’t done in awhile, like ‘Presto,’” Lifeson said, mentioning the title track of the band’s 1989 album. “I’m not sure we’ve ever played ‘Presto’ live.”

The timing for Rush’s tour is a bit unusual for a band that, traditionally, only toured after an album release or between projects. This tour comes in the middle of writing and recording “Clockwork Angels.”

“The idea was to get back on the road, tour and then come right back into continued writing and then recording in tour shape,” Lifeson said. “There’s nothing that compares to the kind of shape you get into playing-wise when you’re on tour.”

Lifeson said at this point, the new record is shaping up to be a musically varied work.

“There is the epic song, ‘Clockwork Angels,’ which is really taking shape. It’s a multiparted piece, very dynamic,” the guitarist said. “Then there’s some stuff that’s very melodic and on the softer side, on acoustic, with a strong melody. So there’s great diversity there. Honestly, I can’t wait until we start really working on these songs.”

Lifeson, of course, will be happy if the rest of the “Clockwork Angels” project goes as well as things went in making “Moving Pictures” — an album he feels still holds up well nearly three decades after it sold more than 4 million copies.

“I guess it’s the wide-eyed nature of the album,” he said. “The songs are all quite cinematic lyrically and musically. It’s kind of a very up record, sonically it’s up. ‘Limelight’ has that big, bold kind of sound, as does ‘Red Barchetta,’ and it has those typical kind of dynamics that we’re known for.”