Geddy Lee ‘In Conversation’ – Sheffield City Hall – 14/12/23

Geddy Lee found himself at a loss after the dissolution of RUSH so during lockdown he wrote a 1200 page draft of his autobiography, ‘All The ‘Effin Details’ with all the minute that people like myself love.  Sadly that would only appeal to a small number of people so some judicious editing resulted in ‘My ‘Effin Life’.

The book seemed to be teased for quite a few months (good marketing) but we all knew it was getting close when there was an announcement of a speaking tour, ‘In Conversation’, with some seriously pricey tickets – even with a copy of the book included (good marketing again).

Trans-Pennine Express couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery with delays to my train journey (in both directions) meant I arrived in Sheffield with about 5 minutes to spare before the start, phew.  Tonight’s venue is of a great deal of interest; not only is the City Hall a classic venue it is also the first place RUSH ever played in the UK back on 1st June 1977.  A 16 year old Joe Elliot was in the audience at that very first RUSH gig too.  I am surprised at the number of empty seats too considering the previous night in Wolverhampton and the North American dates looked packed!

Each ‘In Conversation’ has a guest host and on the North American leg there have been some tasty presenters – Les Claypool, Jack Black, Chad Smith and even Alex Lifeson.  Tonight we have no idea who it is until they walk out on stage.  Unbelievably we get Melissa Auf Der Maur, bass player in Hole and The Smashing Pumpkins as well as a solo artist, whom also appeared on Geddy’s bass related TV show.

The first half of the conversation was Melissa interviewing Geddy, starting with the Holocaust and his parents meeting in camps, them spending time in Auschwitz and how important it is to him to telling their story.

Predictably, the rest of the conversation evolves around the members of RUSH, the goofy Neil Peart and the comedic Alex Lifeson (and a little bit of John Rutsey too).  Most amusing was the story of Alex getting very drunk on shots of brandy at the Piccadilly Hotel in Manchester, having been sent to bed he comes flying out the evelator on a serving trolley.  Then he pulls down a curtain rail in his hotel and uses it to knock on Geddy’s window in the next room eventually smashing it before security are called and with Alex only wearing the curtain everything has to be calmed down; the next day Alex is extremely sheepish and apologies to all the staff and the tour manager has to pay for the damage.  It was much funnier at the venue than I can make it seem.

The end of RUSH is also covered at some length from the decision to do one final tour to Neil Peart’s sad passing, and not for the first time Geddy has to gather himself as the emotion takes over.

After a break Geddy makes a second reading from his book followed by another host, writer Phil Wilding, taking the stage for “questions from the audience”.  

Before the questions there was a short discussion of two new songs that have been released, leftovers from his solo release – ‘My Favourite Headache’.

Some bloke called Alex Lif-er-son submitted a question regarding the story of “the bag” and some famous(ish) singer called Joe Elliot’s question was about Geddy’s first gig and whether he got paid for it – it was a Battle of the Bands competition and there was no payment (Joe got £5 for his first gig).

We then went to audience questions – all of whom were from long time RUSH fans who got into the band between ‘76 and ‘80 which sums up the audience here tonight (for me it was ‘78) and here are a selection of those audience questions:

His bucket place to visit?

Most satisfying album to make?
Snakes And Arrows.

What is in store for the next stage of his life?
More new mistakes and he is possibly going to work with some bloke called Alex Lif-er-son again; the audience went berserk at this point, understandably.

What is his mother’s signature dish?
Apparently she is an expert at overcooked brown food, but her signature dish is ‘mishmosh’ – junky comfort food.

His favourite Alex and Neil parts?
Alex’s solo in La Villa Strangiato and Neil’s drum solo which Geddy had the pleasure of watching every night from the side of the stage.

What is Jaco Pastorius bass like to play?
It’s like holding a magic wand, it contains the perfect storm of components.

What is his favourite instrument to look at?
To go on the wall it requires WAF – wife approval factor – and the beautiful and colourful Italian Wandré guitars with aluminium necks hit that spot.

Not only does Geddy Lee come across as a really nice guy but he is also funny, self deprecating and deeply emotional.  I thoroughly enjoyed this evening, this is not a ‘performance’ I am going to forget.

Buy the book or get someone to get it you as a present for Christmas – it is a really great read.

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