Rush in concert in Toronto in 2003

Watch Rush bring a crowd of half a million people in his hometown with classics like “Tom Sawyer”, “YYZ”, “The Spirit Of Radio” and more.

By Nate Todd January 7, 2022 11:03 AM PST

Neil peart sadly passed away on that date in 2020 after a years-long battle with brain cancer. The legendary Rush drummer and lyricist was 67 years old. Known as The Professor, Peart is widely regarded as one of the greatest drummers to ever sit on the throne. Neil had an immediate impact when he joined the guitarist Alex lifeson and bassist / multi-instrumentalist Geddy lee in 1974 after Rush released his self-titled debut album and just weeks before their first US tour which kicked off August 14 in Pittsburgh with the band opening act for Uriah Heep and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in front of 11,000 people.

Almost 30 years later, Rush would perform for a larger crowd – estimated at around half a million – for the Molson Canadian Rocks benefit concert for Toronto, which was the largest paid event in Canadian history. The concert which took place on July 30, 2003 at Downsview Park was conceived by the Rolling Stones as a boost to Toronto’s economy after the World Health Organization put the city on SARS alert. In addition to the Stones, the concert also featured performances from AC / DC, Canadian The Guess Who, Flaming Lips, Justin Timberlake and others. But without a doubt, many of the estimated 450,000 to 500,000 people were there to see the heroes of Hometown Rush.

The Holy Triumvirate took to the stage energetically to a loud applause and presented Toronto with an ensemble filled with classics starting with “Tom Sawyer”. Lifeson then released the opening riff for “Limelight” along with the teacher’s fills. The trio weren’t limited to vintage material, however, and Lee led the group through “Dreamline” from their 1991 album. Roll the bones. Then Peart chaired the epic “YYZ” followed by “Freewill” and “Closer To The Heart”. Rush then nodded to the Stones with an instrumental version of “Paint In Black” before closing their set with “The Spirit Of Radio” with Neil ripping the kit apart as usual.

To remember Neil Peart, check out Molson Canadian Rocks’ full set of Rush for Toronto below for this edition of Full show Friday:


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Setlist

  • Tom sawyer
  • Spotlight
  • Dream line
  • YYZ
  • Free will
  • Closer to the heart
  • Paint it black
  • The spirit of radio

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