Rush acknowledges that the Symphony performances revitalized his career. In the early ’80s, he was at a crossroads. He didn’t have a major-label contract at the time, and his last studio album, “Ladies Love Outlaws,” had been released in 1974. Rush had often performed in Boston around Christmastime, but one year he wasn’t able to sell out a two-night stand at the Paradise Rock Club.
“It was a transitional time, for me and the whole industry,” Rush says. “Record labels were floundering because the baby boomers weren’t buying their records anymore. They were making records for kids. The baby boom really built the music industry by buying a lot of records. Then the baby boomers got older, and the record companies kept focusing on a particular age group, and they let the baby boomers basically walk out of the room.”
“I was without a major record deal, and it was still at the point where if you didn’t have a record deal, you didn’t exist,” he adds. “The record companies got you on the radio, and that sold concert tickets for you. I had an audience, and I didn’t buy this argument that the audience didn’t exist anymore.”
They’ve stayed with him for another three decades, but even then Rush realized the scale of another Symphony event was a financial gamble.
“To be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a show like this, and if I were a promoter, I’d be skeptical,” Rush says. “If you could talk me into it at all, I would want a pretty good deal on it. It’s a substantial risk. I was gratified that [the Kickstarter campaign] did as well as it did. Apparently it was the fifth most successful music campaign.”
Rush, who will turn 72 in February, says he’ll take the stage on Friday as a different kind of performer.
“I bring 30 more years of experience and hard-earned lessons,” Rush says. “I never thought when I started out that I’d be doing this for any length of time. I figured I’d get a real job pretty soon. I’m still keeping my options open, but I’m pretty unemployable at this point.”