Released: 2003, Anthem
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
RUSH IN RIO is this legendary band’s first DVD. It offers not only a massive 29-song retrospective of their 30-year career but it also features an interesting 54-minute documentary on the band’s Brazilian tour. The companion CD features exactly the same tracks however the DVD documentary alone is almost worth the $25 price tag of this set, not to mention the awesome spectacle that Rush still gives its fans.
Thirty years on and Rush has never sounded better. The mix here is superb as every instrument is perfectly audible. Geddy Lee’s plucking bass has always been a signature of the Rush sound and is on full display here, especially on “The Big Money” and “Driven”. Neil Peart has influenced an entire generation of drummers with his undeniable skill and hybrid of rock and jazz. Peart’s chance to step into the limelight is on the eight-minute drum solo, “O Baterista”, to the delight of the crowd. He plays a variety of percussion instruments at sometimes blinding speed on his MASSIVE rotating drum kit, which concludes with him playing along to a big band/swing track. Lest we forget Alex Lifeson, as his unique guitar solos remain intact as well as some amazing acoustic work on “Resist”.
The concert itself lasts for nearly 3 hours (as Geddy Lee announces, “We will be playing about 1000 songs for you tonight”) without sacrificing a single point of the band’s career. All of the band’s hits are included with the middle portion of the show devoted to material from the last 10 years. The opening chords of “Tom Sawyer” kick off the show and is followed up with “Distant Early Warning”, two of my personal favorites. Other highlights include “Free Will”, “Closer To The Heart”, “The Big Money” and “YYZ”. The only low-point for me is the MOVING PICTURES album track “Natural Science” which could have been replaced with a better track (eg. “Subdivisions”). Unless the listener is familiar with Rush’s latest releases, the middle of the show will be mostly unfamiliar. Not denying the newer tracks due credit, “One Little Victory”, “Dreamline”, “Driven” and “Ghost Rider” are excellent selections that stand up against the band’s classics. Hearkening back to 1976, a shortened version of “2112” featuring “Overture” and “The Temples of Syrinx” completes the show and captures the magic of the original despite forsaking key elements of the 20+ minute track. The final third of the show is full of lengthy tracks from the band’s early days. The sprawling instrumental “La Villa Strangiato” (with a strange spoken word “outro” featuring Alex Lifeson introducing himself as Stan Getz and the rest of the band as Milton Banana on drums and The Guy From Ipanema on bass) and a medley of the rarely played songs “By-Tor And The Snow Dog/Cygnus X-1/Working Man” are a collector’s dream. Not to shut out the casual fan, “Limelight” and “The Spirit of Radio” are tracked between the rarities.
The second DVD has a great multiangle feature that allows you to choose a camera on a specific band member during “YYZ”, “O Baterista” and “La Villa Strangiato”. The crown jewel of this set though is the 54-minute documentary, “The Boys In Brazil”. This short film tracks the band from when they first arrive at the airport in Brazil for the South American dates through to the flight back to the Toronto. The viewer is treated to all the tribulations that went into making these shows a reality. Rush had never performed in Brazil and this tour filled 60,000 seat soccer stadiums. Despite every conceivable obstacle that could have put a stop to the shows (injury, equipment problems, torrential rain), the odds worked in their favor. The Rio show in particular faced a “do or die” situation as the equipment arrived late and the band was not only forced to sacrifice a sound check but also a check of the recording equipment to make this DVD possible. Always the commensurate professionals, the band pulled off these shows in front of their biggest audiences ever. Backstage footage includes Peart’s 20-minute “warm-up” and Lifeson’s comedic side. With a surprising number of younger fans to show that Rush isn’t just for ‘70s dinosaurs, Andreas, Paulo and Derrick from Sepultura also show up and give a few words.
The 2-disc set comes in a fold-out digipack housed in a cardboard slipcase. There is a 16-page booklet with live photos and an excellent essay written by Neil Peart entitled “Flying Down To Rio: Leaving Vapor Trails Behind”. For the DVD aficionado, the concert is presented in 1.85 widescreen (non-anamorphic) with audio options of Dolby 2.0 Stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1. There are 2 Easter Eggs on Disc Two that unlock a vintage promo clip from 1975 of “Anthem” and the “By-Tor” video that plays on the screen behind the band during the song.
Even if, like me, you have every Rush studio and live album, don’t hesitate to get RUSH IN RIO. This is perhaps the best compilation of hits, rarities and new tracks that has been released by the band yet. If the three-hour show isn’t enough, the band has also included a second disc of extra material that is just as good as the first. In other words, RUSH IN RIO is what every live recording should aspire towards.