So what if Rush has more live albums and videos now than they do studio albums. I’m not complaining, especially on the video side. That would be like saying, "well I already saw Rush in concert once, so why would I want to see them again". Rush is my favorite live band, and you don’t even have to sit in the 999th row of some giant football stadium to see them. They tour after every single album, they always put on a killer show, and after 30 years together, we still have the same three guys that started it all – unless you play the John Rutsey card.
After a five year hiatus, their first of the kind, I was as giddy as a 12 year old girl at a B5 concert as I waited for the Vapor Trails tour to finally hit my town. My prayers were answered when this tour was also captured on DVD during a career performance in front of 40,000 insane Brazilians, which was aptly named Rush In Rio. I figured after this massive tour that these aging band of Canadians would probably take another extended hiatus to recharge and regroup, but two years later Rush hit the road again to celebrate their 30th anniversary and to promote their new album of classic rock covers called Feedback.
That leads us to this new Rush DVD, R30 – 30th Anniversary World Tour, recorded September 24, 2004 in front of a rather lame Frankfurt, Germany crowd. They certainly hit the two extremes with the hysterical Rio crowd and these apathetic Germans. If only they would have filmed the show that I attended. Maybe it was the combination of a limp crowd, jet lag, or too much Sauerbraten for lunch, but this performance was more phoned in than the one I saw six weeks earlier in Virginia. It’s not nearly as electric as the Rio performance. The performance may have been a notch below the band’s usual caliber, but the production quality certainly wasn’t. The poor audio mix that plagued the Rush In Rio DVD was nowhere to be found on this stellar disk. The audio, video, and camera direction are all some of the best you will ever find on a concert video. The only noticeable problem was a huge layer change burp that occurred smack-dab in the middle of "Dreamline".
As far as the details of the show, I covered that already, and quite extensively, on my review of the concert I attended at the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia. If you check out that review, and please do, you will notice that many of the songs were not included on this DVD. Just like on the Vapor Trails tour, Rush performed a nearly three hour show, broken up into two long sets with a short intermission. Left off of this DVD were "Bravado", "YYZ", "The Trees", "One Little Victory", "Secret Touch", "Red Sector A", "La Villa Strangiato", and "By-Tor And The Snow Dog". To Rush‘s defense, you still get over two hours worth of the show, and almost all of these songs were already performed on the Rush In Rio DVD. Still, unless there were technical difficulties with these particular songs that could not be overcome, why not throw them on too. Especially on a two-disk set!
The most memorable part of the show was the fantastic animated intro that brought to life all of the great Rush album cover art, and eventually led into the opening "R30 Overture", which consisted of medley of killer riffs from some of their most endearing 70’s songs such as "Bastille Day", "A Passage To Bangkok" and "Hemispheres". Other highlights included a rare performance of the Grace Under Pressure closer "Between the Wheels", and a definitive performance of "Red Barchetta". It’s easy to forget about that Moving Pictures classic sometimes since it is sandwiched between, oh,only "Tom Sawyer", "YYZ", and "Limelight". That has my vote for top-five best rock album sides of all time. Although they did dig deep for a couple of these songs, they can afford to dig a little deeper considering the amount of repetition there is on all of their live releases. How about a little "Something For Nothing", "Vital Signs", "Chemistry", or "Cut To The Chase" next time around.
They almost make up for the excluded live performances with a second disk full of Rush rarities, highlighted by some very Spinal Tapish, ’70s-era performances of "Fly By Night", "Circumstances," "La Villa Strangiato", "A Farewell To Kings", and "Xanadu" – although most of these are obviously lip-synched performances. Also included are several band interviews, book-ended by a 1979 interview with Geddy Lee, and a Vapor Trails tour interview with Geddy and Alex. The most charming inclusions were a live studio performance of "Closer To The Heart", done for the Canadian Tsunami Disaster Fund charity telethon, and the band’s induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994. I was alarmed at how much I must like this band, because that segment had me a little bit misty eyed towards the end.
This is a very different video than the Rush In Rio DVD, released only a few years previous. Sometimes I am more in the mood for the gritty, crowd-drenched mix of the Rio show, and other times I prefer the pristine recording quality of this one. Each performance sees the band in a different light and offers the viewer a vastly different experience. I say bring on next years new album, tour, and concert DVD – and hurry it up already!
R30 Overture (Finding My Way, Bastille Day, Anthem, A Passage To
Bangkok, Cygnus X-1, Hemispheres)
The Spirit Of Radio
Roll The Bones
Between The Wheels
Heart Full Of Soul
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