Rush - Rush In Rio (DVD)
Hard Rock

Release year: 2003
Reviewed by Marty
Major event
This summer, Rush will embark on a world tour to celebrate their 30th anniversary. The fact that they are going to tour again and will play Europe for the first time in over ten years can partly be attributed to the great response they got from the fans on the Vapor Trails tour and especially from the Brazilian fans during the three shows they played there last November. Playing to over 125,000 fans over three shows culminating with this performance, captured live from their show in Rio, these dates were an afterthought and came after the tour was officially supposed to be over and the band taking a much needed break. The crew had to battle the elements with torrential rains the previous night in Sao Paulo wreaking havoc on the sampling and midi consoles that the band uses to produce some of the concert sounds and threatening to render them useless for the Rio show. The late arrival of the equipment and the time it took to dry it out and make sure everything was going to work meant there was no time for a sound check (something the band does faithfully for every show) and no run through for the sound and camera crews who were recording and filming the show. They all were going to have to "wing it".

About halfway through the opening track, Tom Sawyer, a wry smile of relief on Geddy Lee's face gives the impression that all was going to be O.K. and this was going to be a great show. The wild Brazilian crowd is simply amazing and unusual for most Rush concerts and I'm sure something that the band is not used to. The scenes of people with outstretched arms peering up into the sky as if in a prayer of thanks pretty much sums it up. Over the course of the rest of this DVD, we are treated to a live Rush experience that is as good as being right there at the concert. Serving up a set list of almost thirty songs, the band covers material from almost every album of their career concentrating on albums such as Moving Pictures and Permanent Waves. The usual favorites are included here such as Tom Sawyer, Limelight, YYZ, Closer To The Heart, Big Money, The Spirit Of Radio, Freewill, The Trees etc. but there's also a few lesser known and rarely performed tracks included as well. The Pass, a very touching song about suicide from the Presto album is for me, a highlight of this DVD. A very moving, building and melodic song, the song gets the full live Rush treatment and comes off sounding better than the original version. Closer To The Heart, a song not performed for the North American tour was quickly added to the Brazilian set list when it was discovered that it was their most popular song in Brazil. The whole crowd once again sings loudly on this one. Bravado, a richly textured and melodic tune from the Roll The Bones album is absolutely stunning and builds to a jamming style finish to a frenzied response.

The set list order and flow of this concert is amazing. The concert begins solidly and peaks at frenzied pace with YYZ about five songs into the first set. The crowd goes crazy for this one and sings along to the guitar melodies even though this is an instrumental song. Natural Science, another rarely performed song from Permanent Waves finishes the first set and accompanied with some wild and somewhat psychedelic visuals, is a killer version of this very complex song.

The second set begins with an animated dragon on the screen backdrop breathing fire and igniting the stage while Neil Peart rips into the intro for One Little Victory from the Vapor Trails album. The crowd is in a frenzy again!! The laser light visuals used on Dreamline add a nice atmospheric effect and is another crowd favorite. The instrumental Leave That Thing Alone leads into Neil Peart's drum solo called O Baterista. Always an event unto itself, he plays 2 different sets of drums and uses triggered sounds to emulate a horn section from a jazz orchestra. I'm always in awe of his drum solos even after seeing them live about 7 times since 1977. A nice treat comes after this in the form of an unplugged version of Resist from the Test For Echo album. With just acoustic guitars, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson breath new life into this song with a slightly slower version but a very soaring and touching one at that. Geddy sings his heart out and I actually now prefer this version over the original. After that little interlude, the opening wind sounds of 2112's Overture come whisking through the P.A. and the crowd goes wild again!! After the Temples of Syrinx, the remainder of the DVD is a balls out rocking fiesta with Limelight, La Villa Strangiato (complete with some bizarre vocal antics from Alex Lifeson) and they finish the set with a blistering version of The Spirit Of Radio.

As the band comes back out for the encores, Geddy announces that it's "Time to get the dogs out!!" and then they proceed to rip into By-Tor And The Snowdog, a song they haven't performed for over 20 years. This is a great version complete with cartoon caricatures of Alex and Geddy battling each other during the "Battle" section of the song. This entire cartoon can be seen as an Easter Egg and accessed by pushing "Enter" when Alex Lifeson talks about the song during the interview section on the second disc. After the tumultuous ending of the first half of the song, they rip into the opening instrumental section of Cygnus X-1 before Alex Lifeson moves to the front of the stage to crank out the opening chords to Working Man, a song from their very first album and another one that they haven't performed many years. The crowd files out of the stadium with huge smiles on their faces knowing that they have witnessed something truly special and for some, a once in a lifetime experience and one that they will not soon forget.

Visually, the images, animations and still images that Rush uses help to convey an atmosphere also make up for the fact that their music is very complicated and demanding for all three musicians, not allowing for much time to jump around. Lots of sampled sounds are used for vocal overdubs and other keyboard effects which are mostly triggered onstage by the band members themselves. The camera work is amazing and all three musicians are featured almost equally with camera shots at just the right moments (all of Neil's famous drum flurries and spins all captured). The cameras were also fed into the backdrop screen behind the band giving all of the crowd some great close up shots that can be seen even to the far corners of the stadium. Audio features include the Dolby 5.1 surround sound option.

The second disc in this set has a nice behind the scenes look at the band's arrival and setup for the Brazilian shows with some funny moments with Alex and Geddy. The response they got at the airports was something they were not prepared for. Hundreds of people waited a long time to see them and get autographs with many crying tears of joy. Their popularity in that country was severely underestimated. Also on the second disc are awesome multi-angle options for the songs YYZ, La Villa Strangiato and La Baterista. Three options are available for each of those songs and with YYZ and La Villa Strangiato, you can pick Neil, Alex or Geddy to watch for the entire song. Another Easter Egg and one that is harder to find is a promotional video for the song Anthem from 1975 featuring a very "youthful" looking band in their early 20's.

Any Rush fan should not be without this DVD. It is quite simply the best live video/DVD concert releases ever and with the frenzied crowd, it was an event, not just a concert. For those who may only have a passing interest in the band, this would be a great introduction to their music and the live Rush concert experience. The Vapor Trails tour was reported to be their last tour and many were wondering if this DVD would be their swan song. If it was, it would be fitting one. The tremendous response from the Brazilian fans for those three shows last November really surprised and re-energized the band. Liner notes on the inside by Neil Peart about the experience indicate that the band was amazed by the response and the Brazil shows are ones that they won't soon forget. All three looked like they were having a great time during the show. I really think that it's the main reason that they have chosen to continue. There's too many other parts of the world pleading for a Rush tour to quit now. On behalf of myself and the countless die-hard Rush fans throughout the world, a huge thank you!! to the Rio fans and to guys rule!!!

Killing Songs :
Everything but my personal favs are YYZ, The Pass, Bravado, Natural Science, Resist, La Villa Strangiato and By-Tor And The Snowdog
Marty quoted no quote
Other albums by Rush that we have reviewed:
Rush - Clockwork Angels reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 90 / 100
Rush - Beyond The Lighted Stage reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Rush - Test For Echo reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Rush - Counterparts reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Rush - Roll The Bones reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
To see all 26 reviews click here
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