Saturday, January 21, 2006

Rush turns 30 and gives us a present!

Artist: Rush
Title: R30
Format: DVD-Video

Surround Mix By Richard Chycki, Alex Lifeson and Adrian Lifeson

Rush is 30 years old???? Good Lord, that makes me feel old. I still recall getting Hemispheres for my 15th birthday, putting it on and saying OH MY GOD!!!!!! I was always impressed with their musical prowess, and loved their sound from the get go. I've been a fan for over 25 years, so this will be a biased review!

The R30 DVD is a celebration of their 30th anniversary tour. Recorded in Frankfurt, Germany, the band retains if not exceeds the energy that they had onstage in their prime of the late 70's. They pluck some gems from the entire Rush catalog and as a longtime fan, it's a very rewarding performance.

The music: Starting with an amazing animated history of Rush's album covers which morphs into a "dream" by the always funny Jerry Stiller, who introduces the band, Rush kicks off the show with an instrumental medley of their earlier songs, including Finding My Way, Anthem, Bastille Day and Hemispheres, finally concluding the opening sequence with The Spirit Of Radio. The band tears through songs from every album you can think of, and the performances are fantastic. They're tight as usual. More obscure songs such as Force Ten and Between The Wheels are treats for Rush fanatics. Alex Lifeson plays with his usual precision and class. Spot on like always. Neil Peart, considered by most music fans as one of the best drummers in the world, plays his special 30th anniversary drum kit as perfectly as we would expect. Geddy Lee is, well, Geddy Lee! Tirelessly playing bass, keyboards, foot pedals and finally sitting down for 2 acoustic numbers, Resist and The Yardbirds' Heart Full Of Soul. And excuse me for almost blowing a fuse when they launch into Xanadu!!!! Wow!!!!
Score: 10/10

The mix:
After the giant mush ball that was Rush In Rio ( which was supposed to be a "from the 15th row" type of mix). R30 offers 5.1 fans a great mix. The opening "dream sequence" is fantastic! Sounds swirl around and make full use of all 5 speakers. Once the band kicks in, we get a mix featuring drums and bass up front, guitars that seem to be in every speaker at times, and some keyboard and effects in the rears. I've read some complaints of "digital distortion" in Alex's guitar sound, but I hear no evidence of this in the 5.1 mix. Alex's sound is big, wet, fat and very enveloping. After the overpowering crowd noise of Rush In Rio, R30 keeps the crowd noise to a respectable level. I'm satisfied with the 5.1 mix. Sure, it's not perfect, but hey....The Eagles Farewell Tour DVD may be a perfect sounding disc, but it's as exciting as watching oatmeal soak up hot water! I don't mind a live DVD sounding live!
Score: 8/10

The sound:
As stated above, it's not perfect, but it's a great sounding DVD. It could use a bit more definition in the bottom end and Neil's drum sound is a bit thinner, but this is more due to his "new" drum sound, which is higher pitched and a bit hollower. Highs are much smoother than Rush In Rio, and Geddy's voice is much clearer this time around.
Score: 8/10

Overall: 8.5

Alex Lifeson was once quoted as not being much of a surround fan. Looks like he saw the light! There has been much speculation that Rush is working on 5.1 mixes of their older catalog. Let's hope there is some truth to these rumours! Rush remains one of the classiest, hardest working bands in the world. Here's to many more years of great music.