Every time Rush comes to town to perform, it creates a nightmare for critics.
From tour to tour -- and they seem to come like clockwork every two years -- the band changes its show minimally, but there's still so much to see and hear.
It's kind of like a Hitchcock movie. You need to see it a half-dozen times to start catching some of the nuances.
So here's the dilemma for last night's Rush show at the Capital Centre: Do you pan them for being terribly redundant or do you praise them for being so good at what they do.
Our best guess is the latter.
In fact, the repetition has bred a kind of fond familiarity with the audience. With each passing tour it becomes easier to figure out who the die-hards are.
They are the ones in the know.
They know just when to shout during the "2112" overture. They know to clap with arms raised above head for the chorus of "Spirit of Radio." They even begin cheering with the sight of the video introductions to songs like "Distant Early Warning" (the cute kid riding the missile), "Subdivisions" (the adolescent in the high school halls) and "Tom Sawyer" (a buxom cartoon woman toting "Moving Pictures" into an art gallery).
Much of this stuff has been unchanged for a decade -- even Alex Lifeson's new-wave haircut hasn't changed since 1982.
But the "Roll The Bones" tour, like its predecessors, did offer some subtle alterations.
The most obvious of the additions were the songs from the new album -- five in all -- and placed right in the middle of the band's seemingly endless delivery of hits.
"Dreamline," the rocking first single from "Roll The Bones," was equally impressive live, as was "Where's My Thing," the band's first instrumental since the 1980 classic, "YYZ." Sadly, Rush chose to eliminate that showcase staple from the set for the first time since then.
Perhaps more interesting was the final piece of the evening, which featured parts of various songs, most notably the final chorus of "Red Barchetta" and a reprise version of "Spirit of Radio," which it began the encore set with in its entirety.
If there is any question about complacency it could easily be answered by the smiles on the faces of Neil Peart, guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist Geddy Lee, when Peart's temple block ending for "The Big Money" shocked the crowd.
Rush knows what its audience wants, and still appears to be enjoying the oldies like "Limelight" and "Freewill."
Their confidence in the show is reflected in the choice to throw in more newer non-hit songs, like "The Pass" and "Superconductor," from 1989's "Presto" album.
The band's argument to the fans for the decisions probably would be, "The whole set can't all be from "2112" and "Moving Pictures," now can it?"