Every music concert is a unique experience to the fans, it can help you feel better and even be an inspiration to do something in your life, like becoming a professional artist. Like every musician, the Rush bassist, keyboardist and vocalist, Geddy Lee, went to see many bands playing live when he was still a teenager. Especially for British groups, the American market was really important because they could sell millions of records there and tour for months in only one country. But, when they were playing close to the border with Canada, they would also play in some cities.
That created the opportunity for Geddy Lee, who was born in North York, Ontario, Canada, to see many incredible groups from the United Kingdom in the late 60s and early 70s. Over the decades he talked about many of his experiences in concerts before fame and recalled which was one of the best concerts he ever went to.
The concert that Geddy Lee said was one of the best he went to
The Rush frontman was born in 1953, which means he was only a teenager when the so-called “British Invasion” started, with many incredible bands from the United Kingdom conquering the American market and the rest of the world.
He also saw the birth of Progressive Rock and Hard Rock, two sub-genres that would later be really important to create Rush’s sound. Geddy had seen many incredible bands when he was still a teenager in Canada. But one that really caused a huge impact on him was Led Zeppelin, that he got the chance to see with his childhood friend and bandmate Alex Lifeson in the late 60s.
He recalled that story in an interview with Sirius XM Classic Vinyl Influences show (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) in 2013. “When Led Zeppelin came out I was already playing in a band with John Rutsey and Alex. I remember the first Led Zeppelin record came out. John (Rutsey) brought it over to my house. He sat in my bedroom and put this record on. We just couldn’t believe the sound we were hearing.”
“It was bluesy but it was Progressive Heavy. The term ‘Heavy’ didn’t really exist back then in terms of characterizing Rock music that had this power behind it that was not volume. So it was the power that was weight, the chord structure and the impact had weight.”
“We’ve got tickets and waited out in the wee hours of the morning. They were playing a place called The Masonic Temple. (It) only holds 1200 people max. We got into the second row. I remember when they came out on the stage they started with a song called ‘Train Kept On Rollin”, which is an old kind of Blues standard.”
“They literally toured that house down, because there were bits of plaster falling from the ceilling that night. To young guys, young musicians that was just kind of a magical night. One of my favorite concert memories too,” Geddy Lee said.
Lee doesn’t agree with who calls Led Zeppelin a Heavy Metal band
The difference between Hard Rock and Heavy Metal is not very clear many times to people. So often bands like Led Zeppelin are labeled as Heavy Metal, something that is quite arguable. Rush’s Geddy Lee doesn’t agree with who labels Zeppelin’s music as Metal, as he told Classic Rock in an interview in 2021.
During that conversation, the artist recalled the experience of seeing them live in 1969 alongside Alex Lifeson and John Rutsey. Lee said that they took chances in their music that Metal bands would never do.
“The phrase ‘heavy metal’ didn’t suit Zeppelin. They had a sound that was constantly surprised. They used influences and they took chances that other heavy metal bands just would not conceive of. Maybe sparked by Robert Plant’s lyrics.”
“He had that Tolkienesque majesty about his lyrics. People don’t like that about his writing, but I do. I love the imagery that he uses. And it is the combination of the way Jimmy’s acoustic guitar is used and the presence of that Blues background. It gives their music much more depth than your average heavy metal band,” Geddy Lee said.
During the same conversation, the musician said that Rush tried to do a few Led Zeppelin songs when they were playing in clubs. But they didn’t feel like they could do justice to them, because they were very hard to play. The only track he said that stayed in their setlist at that era was “Livin’ Lovin’ Maid'”.
As Geddy Lee, John Paul Jones was also Led Zeppelin’s bassist and keyboardist. So he was a huge influence for the Canadian artist. He already mentioned the British musician many times as one of the best of all time.