|Rush Rush In Rio||Atlantic/Anthem|
Review by Phil Ashcroft:|
I'll spare you the history lesson as Rush is a subject that I could rant on about ad infinitum, and usually do. Rush, you see, are my favourite band, and have been since 1977 when I caught the first 3 of my 28 Rush shows, not bad for someone from an island where they hardly ever go. Suffice to say that this is the triple CD of the DVD of the comeback tour in support of the comeback album, Vapor Trails, and also Rush's first ever mini-tour of Brazil. Despite the problems they encountered, as detailed in Neil Peart's excellent sleeve notes (equipment arrived late, band didn't soundcheck, cameras and recording equipment weren't tested etc.), the band practise what they preach by showing grace under pressure. However, Geddy, Alex and Neil aren't the only stars of this extravaganza. Take a bow the 44,000 strong Maracana Stadium choir who provide the loudest singalong since AC/DC's If You Want Blood, even during the instrumentals.
As with the Test For Echo tour the show is divided into two sets, the first set (disc 1) being just over 70 minutes of mostly shorter songs, and the second (discs 2 & 3) lasts almost an hour and three-quarters including many revisited epics. Great care has been taken to represent as many Rush studio albums as possible, only Caress Of Steel and Hold Your Fire have nothing included, but the tracks played are a great cross-section of their celebrated career.
Taking disc 1 first. It's great to see them kicking off with Tom Sawyer, although the sound at the beginning isn't really powerful enough for the song's dynamic chord changes, and also neat that after so many live albums there are still quite a few songs appearing on a live disc for the 1st time. The version of Natural Science that ends the disc is awesome, as are criminally under-rated tracks like The Pass and Bravado. Hell, even New World Man comes across really well, and the crowd singing along to YYZ is superb. Old favourites like The Trees, Freewill, and the last-minute addition of Closer To The Heart are played faithfully, but even on these the crowd reaction differentiates them from earlier versions. Disc 2 is mostly newer material with the Vapor Trails trio of One Little Victory, Ghost Rider, and Secret Touch, all sounding better in the live environment, accompanied by 90's tunes like Driven, Dreamline, and the instrumental Leave That Thing Alone. The highlights on this disc include Neil's drum solo (how many drummers can you say that about?), an excellent acoustic reworking of Resist, and a particularly spirited 2112.
With the new stuff out of the way, disc 3 is almost totally retro. From the sublime Limelight, through Alex's mad rant during La Villa Strangiato and the obligatory The Spirit Of Radio, to the bizarre mixing of By-Tor And The Snow Dog and Cygnus X-1, everything is delivered faultlessly. As the set ends back where it all started with Working Man you can almost feel the band winding down while simultaneously rocking it up.
All in all a superb set that's familiar enough to please casual fans, but at the same time sufficiently different from what's gone before to appease the aficionados. The musicianship is, as usual, top-notch with Alex Lifeson in particular playing better than ever, and considering Neil Peart didn't play the drums for two years before this album and tour, he's lost nothing.
Criticisms? Well yes there are some. While personally I think the boisterous crowd adds bags of atmosphere to the proceedings, I can understand why some are complaining about them drowning out the music at times.
Also, there's absolutely no doubt that Geddy Lee's vocals are far too low in the mix, and with Lee and Peart being only too happy to walk away and leave Alex Lifeson and James (Jimbo) Barton in charge of the audio, I'd be interested to know if Geddy's entirely happy with it.
The DVD doesn't seem quite as unbalanced, but I'm not sure if that's just because it works better in 5.1 or because I'm just overlooking it because of the superb visuals. On the other hand, maybe it was the recording conditions because the 'bootleg' versions of Between Sun And Moon, and Vital Signs from the US dates, sound so much better.
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