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Music DVD Review: Rush – Snakes & Arrows Live

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I sort of lost track of Rush about 15-20 years ago. I’m not sure why as I was a big fan in the '70s and '80s and their vinyl releases remain in my collection. Snakes & Arrows Live provided a good way to catch up and renew old acquaintances.

Showcasing Rush at their best, this almost four-hour, three-disc set was mostly recorded over two nights at the Ahoy Rotterdam Arena in The Netherlands on their 2007 world tour. With crystal clear sound quality a top-notch visual presentation, the team that put this production together should be applauded for using modern technology to its best advantage. Even the camera angles enhance the viewing experience. As well, any artist putting together a live CD would do well to use this release as the standard.

I have never seen Rush live nor have I previously owned or watched any of their concert films. As such, I looked forward to viewing this release and, I must say, I was not disappointed. Rush is one of the few power trios that can not only reproduce their recorded sound in concert but can actually enhance it as well. It almost seems as if Alex Lifeson is playing the lead and rhythm guitar parts simultaneously.

Discs one and two are complete concerts — at least it seems that way — as they contain no duplicate selections, such as it should be considering the vastness of the band's catalog. The third disc, entitled “Oh Atlanta! The Authorized Bootlegs,” essentially consists of random live tracks recorded in 2008, of which the classic “2112/The Temples Of Syrinx” is a standout.

The 27 songs that comprise the two main concerts cover most of Rush’s career. The newer songs seemed to work better for me, but maybe that was because I had not really heard them before. Songs like “The Main Monkey Business” and “The Larger Bowl" will now make their way to my stereo system on a regular basis.

Still, it is all about the musicianship when it comes to Rush in concert. While many of the songs perhaps share the same structures, the technical expertise of the musicians sets them apart and gives them uniqueness.

Alex Lifeson may not appear as a typical guitar god, but his ability to produce a barrage of sound from his Gibson guitar is superb. He exhibits terrific hand speed that allows him to produce a full sound. Geddy Lee’s bass runs serve as a good counterpoint to Lifeson and his voice — which is very unique and instantly recognizable — has lost none of its tone or power over the years. Drummer Neil Peart, who is not a finesse player but rather one who pounds the drums into submission, provides the band's foundation behind an array of percussion. In short, he supplies the rock upon which the sound is built.

If you are a fan of Rush then Snakes & Arrows Live is essential; if you are a fan of hard rock in general, then it will still be a worthwile purchase. I give it a big two thumbs up and I welcome Rush back to my listening rotation after an extended absence.

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About David Bowling

  • Grimachi


    Discs 1 & 2 are one concert that was filmed over two days at the same venue. They did that to be able to focus on particular camera angles each night. These guys, in their mid-50’s rock thier tails off for nearly 3hrs a night. They have not rested on their laurels and tour their catalogue like a lot of these bands out there now. Ged, Al, and Peart are still making fresh and exciting music today! Do yourself a favor. The next time the boys come to a city near you, make a night of it. You will not be disappointed. You may not be a fanatic when entering, but you will be a fan when the night is over. Thanks for the review.

  • Tom Blake

    I cannot understand why the concert is on two separate discs! They are two sets, but are one show. Why must I swap discs (and re-set audio settings) at the break point in the show.

    I have an HD TV, surround sound and refuse to pay for a Blu-Ray player. That being said, the video seems off on this disc.

    I am a massive rush fan – saw this tour 3 times, and have numerous video bootlegs from the 90’s. I like the show, but expected a bit more from the band.

  • peter crisp

    That’s a strange comment, you expected more from the band. Although i have never ever seen Rush and their chances of touring Australia are nil, and from all reports their concerts can last up to 2 and a half 3 hours!! At the moment i have both Rush dvd’s “Rio” and 30th Anniversary concert, and any day should receive their latest extravaganza “Snakes & Arrows” live dvd. Hmmm interesting? The set list? Lack Of Spark? Expectations too high? With David’s comments above
    i can’t wait for concert dvd 3! Bring It On!

  • pete

    e mail me if you’re interested in buying red vinyl rush(hemishperes)

  • David OKC

    To clarify for anyone who may be confused about the disc 3 of “random songs”, the Rush Snakes and Arrow tour spanned two years (2007 & 2008). The main concert on discs 1 & 2 were filmed in 2007 and presents the original setlist being used that year. In 2008, the band changed the setlist a bit by dropping some songs and replacing them with news songs. Disc 3 contains all the new songs that were only performed in 2008.

    IMHO, It would have been great to keep the concert on two discs and used branching to select which years’ concert experience to view. However, I get the feeling that the DVDs of the 2007 concert were already mastered some time ago and the release was delayed only to be able to include the 2008 footage on the extra 3rd disc. (For which I am grateful.)