On Monday night (November 20), TOOL surprised fans in Toronto by bringing out RUSH's Alex Lifeson onstage to perform a song. Together, they played TOOL's 10,000 Days track “Jambi,” while incorporating the intro and guitar solo of RUSH’s “A Passage to Bangkok” from their classic 1976 album 2112.
The former RUSH guitarist is a Toronto native; however, he rarely performs live these days. He last played in 2022 with Geddy Lee at both Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts. TOOL is known for not allowing filming or photos at their shows, but some fans snuck footage of the mashup. Check it out below.
Speaking of performing, Lee has been vocal recently about his interest in touring with Lifeson again. The RUSH frontman spoke to Rolling Stone about how the Hawkins tributes and some words from Paul McCartney encouraged him to hit the road again.
“I know it sounds corny, but there really was so much love in that building at Wembley,” Lee said of playing with Lifeson at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert in London. “It was the most special gig I think I’ve ever done in my life, in that regard. Every artist, even artists I didn’t know, was there for the same reason. There was no ego, no hint of competitiveness. And I found it really rejuvenating. It filled me up. I realized, I’ve missed this. I miss playing. I love being in this atmosphere where every musician is rooting for the other musician.”
“But after the show, [Paul McCartney] was incredible," he continued. "He was so warm and embracing and positive. He came and sat and drank with us. We all got plastered together. And he was very emphatic, talking about, ‘You know what Ringo always says: “It’s what we do.” And I said, ‘Talk to Al, because he’s the stubborn one.’ And so he was lecturing Al about how great it is to tour. ‘You have to do it, man. You have to get back out there, man.’ And Alex said something like, ‘I’ll do it, if you’ll be our manager.’ [Quoting Paul], ‘I’ll manage you, mate!'”
However, Lifeson has been dealing with health issues since RUSH last toured in 2015. “He has some health issues, he has arthritis as well,” said Lee. “It’s harder for him to reproduce those solos in the way that he wants to. But he was also never super happy in the last few tours on the road. I think that’s why he played so much golf, because he gets bored so quickly. For me, I would hole up in my room and I would work on photo albums, like I would play with my bird photography.”
Lee added that “being away and touring is more difficult” for Lifeson, “so that’s a stumbling block and at this stage of his life, considering that he has some concerns about his health, it’s very hard for him to get his head around the idea of doing a tour, you know. So I just keep working on him.”
If they do end up touring again, Lee isn't “doesn't know how comfortable" they'd be using the RUSH moniker after Neil Peart's death (he jokingly suggested “RASH”), he also opened up about playing with more musicians. “It wouldn’t be just a three-piece because we’d have to find a way to make it more fun, less work, and pay some acknowledgement to the fact that we are a little bit older now," he said. "There are endless possibilities. … It’s all hypothetical.”