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Primus to perform Rush-inspired ‘Kings’ show at Virgin Hotels

Updated June 21, 2022 - 10:20 am

If you want to geek out with a Rush fan (and lord help you if you do), take a deep dive into “A Farewell to Kings.”

The 1977 progressive-rock masterwork includes such musical tours de force as “Xanadu” and “Cygnus X-1: Book 1: The Voyage Prologue.” Both epic pieces clock at more than 10 minutes.

These are the types of songs that once led Stephen Colbert to ask band members Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and the late Neil Peart, “Have you ever played a song so epic, that by the end of the song, you were being influenced by yourself, at the beginning of the song?”

The power trio laughed and said, yes, it had.

Primus is among the bands famously inspired by “A Farewell to Kings,” and by Rush throughout its career. Its members have been friends with Rush since opening for them in in 1992. Primus is paying tribute by nobly performing that album Saturday night at the Theater at Virgin Hotels, on closing its 46-date “A Tribute to Kings” world tour. You might remember this oft-delayed tour originally being booked in July 2020 at Pearl at the Palms.

Having mused for years about performing a Rush album live, the band finally committed to honoring the band in concert. Primus co-founder, vocalist and bassist Les Claypool said the band landed on “Kings” for personal and musical reasons.

“We didn’t want to do something obvious, and ‘2112’ seemed a little too obvious. ‘Moving Pictures seemed a little too obvious,” Claypool said in a recent phone chat. “‘Kings’ is the first Rush record I’ve ever heard. It has ‘Cygnus’ on it, and I have a real soft sport for that song. And it was also pre-Geddy having so many keys that I wouldn’t be able to handle it.”

“Cygnus” also resonated for Claypool because the first Rush show he attended was the “Hemispheres” tour. That life-altering event was in November 1978, at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. “Hemispheres” is the the follow-up to “Kings,” and features the sequel piece “Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres” (we realize we might have lost some non-Rush fans at this point).

“I just remember just being completely blown away … You know, my brain was just melting,” Claypool recalled. “Cygnus is just very dear to me.”

Claypool said the band had envisioned a live performance of a Rush album before Peart died at age 67 of brain cancer in January 2020. Before moving forward, he asked Lee and Lifeson their thoughts.

“I just said, ‘Hey, we’re thinking of doing this, are you guys cool with that?’” Claypool said. “They were super stoked. I just took us a few years to finally get it on the road. But they’ve been amazing. We were just in Toronto with them and got together and had a little meal, and they came to the show. They were stoked. And it was great to have them be stoked.”

As stoked as everyone is about the “Kings” tour, Claypool isn’t sure Primus wants to delve into another Rush album after they finish “A Tribute to Kings.”

“We don’t want to milk this thing more than is appropriate,” Claypool said. “So I don’t see us becoming a Rush cover band. There are a couple of songs on this record that all very much enjoy playing that will probably pop up in our sets for for the remainder of our careers, because they’re just fun to play.

“But will we take on another Rush record? We’re still halfway up Everest here. I don’t want to think about the next mountain.”

Hyde and seek

Ticket-seller AXS has been beating back rumors on social media (shocker) that Adele’s upcoming shows at Hyde Park have been canceled. The company insists the superstar is performing July 1-2, as scheduled, and has sold out both appearances. But it is worth tracking events in London, given Adele’s past live performances, or lack thereof.

Open season

A few show announcements to note on the Vegas headliner scene:

Billy Idol plays five shows at the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan from Nov. 11-Nov. 19. Steve Stevens, Idol’s guitarist and sidekick since 1981, is also back. Idol has crisscrossed the city over the years, with residencies at Pearl at the Palms and also House of Blues. Tickets are onsale 10 a.m. Friday at Ticketmaster and cosmopolitanlasvegas.com.

Sebastian Maniscalco, whom you likely won’t find at the pool (see his act to get the reference) is back at Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas for four performances Oct. 8-9. Tickets onsale 10 a.m. Friday at Ticketmaster.

— “Lost 80’s Live” plays the Theater at Virgin Hotels on Aug. 26. This show dumps vintage MTV all over the theater. A Flock of Seagulls, Wang Chung, Missing Persons, Naked Eyes, The English Beat, Stacey Q, Animotion, Dramarama and Musical Youth headline this one-night festival. Tickets onsale 10 a.m. Friday at lost80slive.com.

SK8RS moving

Billy and Emily England, the popular skating duo in “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace, will spin anew in “Opium” at the Cosmopolitan this summer. Their act is among the revisions planned in the show’s overhaul.

Cool Hang Alert

“All Motown,” featuring the Duchesses of Motown led by Tonja Jones, performs 7 p.m. nightly (dark Wednesdays) at Athena Showroom at Alexis Park. The Duchesses are a veteran Vegas singing ensemble that covers Martha and The Vandellas, Mary Wells, Gladys Knight, The Marvelettes, The Supremes, among others. Athena Showroom has been renovated and reopened at 180 seats in a lounge-style setting. We like. Go to ticketkite.com/all_motown for tickets and info.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.