Some bands just keep churning out live albums like there's no tomorrow. Some (or perhaps even most) of these albums do not really add anything significant to the band's discography. I am ever more tempted to mention Rush in the context of such "bands churning out live albums" statements. After all, this time they have only released one studio album since their 3-CD "Different Stages" and already they released "Rush in Rio". As far as I am concerned, no studio CD was released in between, what with "Vapor Trails" being a weak album by any standards (which went the way of Ebay).

Anyway, I will have to keep at bay my sweeping statements about bands and their potential abudance of live CDs when it comes to Rush. You see, in case of "Rock in Rio" I am glad they did. This is no superfluous offering at all.

Rush played Rio de Janeiro at the end of their "Vapor Trails" tour, to about a quarter of a million insanely enthusiastic fans. Iron Maiden's "Rock in Rio" was excellent because of that, and the same goes for Rush. The Brazilian audience cries full-out whole segments of lyrics, and even parts of the melody of "YYZ" (which has no lyrics). A great live document.

The DVD is impeccably produced and directed. It's great to see these guys having fun. Neil Peart's life had improved in the past few years and I'd like to imagine it shows in his playing. There is more subtle stuff going on, more fills. The DVD gets the atmosphere and the magic across really well. It's very enjoyable, much more than any of the earlier official Rush videos. Except for the inevitable tracks from "Vapor Trails", the song selection is exquisite, too. We even get "By-Tor and the Snow-Dog" (basically all of it except for the original laid-back middle section), not played live since the late 70's.

The CD features the same songs as the DVD, with the exception of the two added tracks "Between Sun & Moon" and "Vital Signs" that they played earlier on in the tour.

My only gripe with these new Rush offerings is the same as the one with "Different Stages": Too much bass in the mix. I'd like to have heard more drums and vocals, and guitar, though the current mix does tend to make you appreciate Geddy Lee's bass playing more. Especially with the drums, there is some really subtle stuff going on that you basically don't hear at all.

The CD and DVD are prerequisite stuff for any Rush fan. I found them extremely enjoyable to watch and to listen to. Rush is one of the finest bands around today, even though I guess they don't amount to much in the 'grand scheme' of MTV, radio and popular music in general. As usual with Rush, packaging is quite lavish, including interesting liner notes.

Click here to buy or check out the CD

Click here to buy or check out the DVD



Written March 2004


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