Lotus Land finishes a triumphant set in Hartford - photo by Kelly D

Lotus Land

Infinity Music Hall, Hartford, CT

January 6th, 2017

Story and photos by Kelly D

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Progressive rock power trio Rush has seemingly called it quits after an impressive 41-year streak of touring. Thankfully for their effusive fanbase, the boys from the Great White North have a number of tribute bands around the world performing their impressive discography. Lotus Land, based in northern Rhode Island, is one of the absolute best.

Full disclosure: I know the band well and have been friends with them for almost a decade, but everything written here is without bias. They are simply phenomenal. Lotus Land is a true tribute: a three-piece, with Chris Nelson assuming the role of Geddy Lee, playing not only bass and keys, but singing (and hitting!) the high notes as well. Bob Chartrand is the band’s resident Alex Lifeson, with the proper amount of guitars to prove it, and Mark Dalton rounds out the lineup, hitting the skins almost as well as living legend Neil Peart.

Seeing them in Hartford, only about an hour’s drive from where I live, is a real treat. I was able to see them at the Infinity Hall once before, in August 2015. It’s a medium-sized theater with 500 seats and a proper stage, right by the Connecticut Convention Center. I snagged a “standing room only” ticket but quickly, with the help of my friends who had purchased front row tickets, made my way down to the stage to properly rock out.

photo by Kelly D
Bob Chartrand and Chris Nelson of Lotus Land wield their doublenecks during “Xanadu”

The night began with a rocking rendition of “The Anarchist,” from Rush’s last album Clockwork Angels, released in 2012. Rush kicked off their final large-scale tour, R40, with the same tune so I was immediately awash in nostalgia, as I saw them on the R40 Tour 24 times back in the summer of 2015. It’s refreshing to see tribute bands who tackle new material with gusto, as it seems a fair amount of them tend to stick to material that precedes 1982.

Perennial favorites from Moving Pictures, “Tom Sawyer” and “Red Barchetta” were up next. Every song had its album projected on a large screen behind the band, and the iconic image of a Dalmatian sniffing a fire hydrant from Signals accompanied “The Analog Kid.” “Free Will”‘s imagery was a bit different, as it contains the line from where the guys got their tribute name:

There are those who think that
They’ve been dealt a losing hand
The cards were stacked against them
They weren’t born in Lotus Land.”  

The ebullient tune featured choice photos of them and their fans taken during previous shows, including many shots with Lotus Land performing with Gerry Hilera, one of the members of the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble, who joined Rush on the Clockwork Angels Tour in 2012-2013.

“Force Ten,” one of my personal favorites from Hold Your Fire, brought the crowd in the front to their feet, as did “Subdivisions.” Nelson then introduced “Kid Gloves,” an underrated track from Grace Under Pressure, a new tune for them because “once in a while we like to scare ourselves.”  

Around this time, my friends had realized I was in attendance (I hadn’t told anyone I was coming), and soon I was directly in front of the stage, headbanging to “Show Don’t Tell,” off of the rarely-performed Presto album. My fellow female Rush fans (who, by the way, have always existed no matter what anyone says!) and I formed a spontaneous kickline to the driving opening beat of “La Villa Strangiato.” The 9-minute instrumental is no small feat to perform, even when you’re the guys who wrote it!

The epic “Xanadu,” complete with doubleneck guitar and bass, followed. Another instrumental, crowd-pleaser “YYZ,” gave Nelson a chance to rest his voice and for Chartrand and Dalton to show off their respective skills, particularly for Dalton: he performed a skilled drum solo in the middle of the song, much like Neil Peart did on 1981’s Exit. . . Stage Left live album.

The show was unfortunately almost over at this point. Nelson took to the microphone to thank everyone for coming, and a fan yelled out “FREE BIRD!” Ever humorous, Nelson shot back: “Sorry, no ‘Free Bird’ *beat* Security?!” The band launched into their next song, a searing rendition of “What You’re Doing,” from the first Rush album. Then, after band introductions, they finished off their traditional set with “Working Man” with a twist: a portion of Yes’ classic “Roundabout” tucked in the middle. This inclusion has been polarizing for some fans who’ve come to see Lotus Land in the past but this reviewer appreciates the influence Yes had on Rush and believes it fits right in. The night could’ve ended then and there, but a truly beatific performance of “The Spirit of Radio” from Permanent Waves capped it all off, everyone in the theater standing, singing, and clapping along.  

The members of Lotus Land are consummate professionals as well as friendly, hardworking individuals. The few technical errors towards the beginning of the performance were handled with aplomb. It was a special luxury, too, to spend a few minutes with each member after the show for a “meet and greet.” This is one tribute band that far surpasses expectations of what covering a band’s songs could be. I look forward to seeing them again- as I am all too fortunate to have them based in my neck of the woods!

To see more of Kelly D’s photography of the Lotus Land show, check out her art page on Facebook at Vital Visions: Art by Kelly D

To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at [email protected]

Check out the Live Music News and Review.com Facebook page for updates and announcements.