Often overshadowed by Peart’s world-wide renown and lyrical contributions and Lee’s multifaceted roll as lead vocalist, keyboaridst and bassist, Lifeson is left with a subtle and substantial space to fill as an instrumentalist. Without many backing vocal arrangements and with Lee covering so many bases the guitar elements of Rush have had a significant part to play as a compliment to Lee’s lead bass lines and rich bass tones.
Standing out from the progressive elements of the band are the classically influenced lead lines and unique chordal structures that Lifeson chooses to underscore and move Rush’s compositions rhythmically. Tonally monstrous and dynamic, Lifeson couldn’t be more perfect as a single instrument with multiple voices in a band that has influenced hundreds of other bands, performers, and instrumentalists to strive for a creativity that changes the boundaries of musical exploration.
Rush may be a particular taste for some people. Lee’s high-pitched timbre is hard to pallet for some. The often busy live drum solos tend to leave some bored, unless seen live in a venue with a great view. But something that is of consistent joy is the tastefulness of Lifeson’s guitar work. Rarely is there a negative comment about the guitarist’s rhythm choices and lead notes.
Lifeson is a cathartic balance for a band that could easily wander into a realm of progressive rock that verges on jam-band meanderings that wouldn’t quite have the long-lasting strangeness of Frank Zappa, but would stay on the edge of awkward laziness like the rest of the Grateful Dead.