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MUSIC REVIEW

Rush takes its time blowing minds at TD Garden

Ethan Miller/Getty Images Rush’s Alex Lifeson (left) and Geddy Lee (shown in August in Las Vegas) unveiled two new songs Tuesday night at TD Garden. Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Rush’s Alex Lifeson (left) and Geddy Lee (shown in August in Las Vegas) unveiled two new songs Tuesday night at TD Garden. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
By Steve Greenlee
Globe Staff / September 16, 2010

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You can call them the working men.

More than three hours after Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart took the stage Tuesday night at the TD Garden, they were still at it, closing the show with an adrenaline-fueled version of their 1974 blues-rocker “Working Man.’’

Rush has not slowed. Rush has not mellowed with age. If anything, Rush is rocking harder than ever, as evidenced by two heavy new songs the band unveiled, “BU2B (Brought Up to Believe)’’ and “Caravan,’’ from the forthcoming album “Clockwork Angels.’’

Lee, Lifeson, and Peart have always managed to blend high-minded musicianship and songcraft with a dry sense of humor. For all their prodigious skills, they don’t take themselves too seriously — which is why it seemed perfectly natural when a guy pushed a shopping cart of rubber chickens onstage and deposited them in a “time machine’’ during the instrumental “Leave That Thing Alone.’’ And why Lee wore a long-sleeve T-shirt with the fake band name “Rash’’ during the first set. And why it was no big deal — in fact it was funny — when a tech had trouble getting Lifeson’s guitar amped for the encore, so Lee and Peart played an extended polka.

The “Time Machine Tour,’’ as it’s called, has a serious hook, however: The band is playing its best album, “Moving Pictures,’’ in its entirety, for the first time. The seven songs that constitute that record ate up the first 40 minutes of the second set, and they flew by. By the time Lee was singing “Everybody need reverse polarity’’ (and what other band could pull off that line at a rock concert?), it was hard to believe the show’s centerpiece was ending.

For a 57-year-old man who’s been working an elastic falsetto his entire life, Lee’s vocals are in remarkable shape. He hit the high notes on “Tom Sawyer’’ the same as he did 30 years ago. Lifeson, dressed smartly in a dark sportcoat, was the picture of focused intensity, churning out scorching solos on “Freewill’’ and “YYZ.’’ Peart — well, Peart is the best drummer in rock. He got his usual chance to show off during a long drum solo, but he didn’t even need it; he was defending his title all night by shifting the rhythms around on his enormous kit.

Not that Rush needs any ideas for its next tour, but the 30th anniversary of “Signals’’ is fast approaching. Or perhaps “2112’’ in 2012?

Steve Greenlee can be reached at greenlee@globe.com.

RUSH

At: TD Garden, Tuesday night