Rush’s 40th anniversary North American shows in 2015 were ominously billed as “likely their last major tour of this magnitude” – and now, sadly, that statement seems a certainty.
Speaking in their new Rush: Time Stand Still documentary, the Canadian rock legends say that touring without any one of their three core members Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart is inconceivable.
Neil, of course, didn’t even want to embark on the band’s anniversary tour with his chronic tendonitis, foot injury and shoulder problems consistently causing him agony.
Added to this, Alex is beginning to suffer from worsening arthritis; something Geddy describes as a “ticking time bomb.”
Reflecting upon the idea of playing with substitute musicians, Alex says: "It's not like you just get new members of a band and just go for it. Rush has never been a band like that. We'd never, ever do something like that."
Geddy agrees: "We always said that if the three of us aren't on board, we don't do a thing. There have been other decisions in our career where the three of us weren't on board and we didn't do it.
“Nothing as profound as ending our touring life, but fair enough. So one guy doesn't want to do that thing anymore that I love to do. That hurts. But there's nothing I can do about it and that's part of the agreement."
Clearly distraught at the thought of not hitting the road again, Alex adds: "I'm sure down the road I'll feel fine with it. But I still lament the fact that it's likely we won't be doing a major tour anymore."
Throughout the documentary Neil strongly dispels the idea of performing live again – assertions that make the idea of even a one-off show seem far fetched.
Explaining how he was cornered into playing on the last tour, Neil says in the film: "The b****** pulled that exact card. Alex said he has arthritis and said, 'I'd really like to go out one more time and don't know if I'll be able to.'
“That night in my hotel room, I had the worst attack of Tourette's you've ever heard. I felt trapped. I was stomping around and cursing. But by the next day it was like, 'It is what it is. Deal with it!'"
Shifting the onus away from Neil, Geddy says: "It's easy to blame everything on the drummer not wanting to go back on the road. But there's other factors at play here that can't be ignored. One of those factors is Alex's arthritis, which is kind of a ticking time bomb."
Rush’s Time Stand Still documentary is released on DVD and Blu-ray on Friday 18th November.