Filmed over the course of two nights in October 2007 (although you wouldn’t know from Mark Morton’s seamless editing) at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands on the Snakes & Arrows tour in support of the album of the same name, Rush delivers a fantastic evening of music. There may not be enough recognizable tunes here for the band’s casual, greatest-hits fans since the tour focused on the new material instead of a concert that “echoes with the sound of salesman,” but that’s what R30 is for.
For those that missed or want to relive it, the tour was captured with 21 High Definition cameras under the wise guidance of directors Pierre & Francois Lamoureux. The presentation opens with the video of a dream sequence that opened the show. I could tell from watching the first track, “Limelight,” that these directors knew how to shoot and edit musicians playing. When guitarist Alex Lifeson gets his first solo, they stayed on him for the most part, cutting between a full shot and a close-up on his fingers.
After “Limelight,” serious Rush devotees will be thrilled that the first set is comprised mainly of deep album cuts with selections ranging from every decade of the band’s career: “Circumstances” from Hemispheres (1978), “Digital Man” from Signals (1982), “Dreamline” from Roll the Bones (1991), and “Secret Touch” from Vapor Trails (2002).
The program fades to black at the intermission, and then the video that opened the second set, a very strange one indeed with bassist Geddy Lee as lost, hungry Scotsman Harry Satchel, segues into five Snakes & Arrows tracks, showing a confidence the band has in their new material. “Far Cry” is a definite highlight that will likely make many an appearance at future concerts.
After a wonderfully spooky rendition of a fire-enhanced “Witch Hunt,” the band highlights their technical prowess even further with a three-song instrumental block. “Malignant Narcissism” find Lee and drummer Neil Peart trading leads. Peart’s solo is dubbed “De Slagwerker,” which naturally translates to “The Drummer” in Dutch. There is a reason Peart’s name is always mentioned in any serious conversation about rock drummers and this DVD demonstrates a master percussionist at work, particularly fantastic are the overhead shots, a view most concert goers would rarely witness. Peart has MIDI trigger pads as part of his kit programmed to create sounds from instruments such as a marimba, a harp, and tubular bells, which gives him a wide audio palette from which he can create. Peart concludes with an excerpt from “Cotton Tail,” a number he recorded with the Buddy Rich Band in the 1990s. The only downside is Peart's solo was shorter than it had been on previous tours. Not to be left out, “Hope” is an acoustic guitar solo by the ever-silly Lifeson.