Review Summary: A live album that actually SOUNDS live
Nowadays, there's a lot of live albums coming out that may as well be glorified studio albums with crowd noise dubbed in at the beginning and end. By that, I mean that all you could hear is just the music and none of the crowd participation that gives the album that "live" and fun feel. This is one of the reason that I've been feeling less inclined to buy live albums and instead merely collect bootlegs, in addition to obvious overdubs to make the live sound feel more "polished". Well, that can't be said about Rush's Rush in Rio
- an album that has that "bootleg" feel to it. It's been criticized for this in general- many of the negative reviews focus on how half of the audio is the crowd, and you can hear them at the same volume level as the band. To me, this is what live albums should be. They should make you feel like you're in the middle of a frenzied crowd, seeing the band.
One of the things Brazil have always been known for is their amazing concert crowds, which can be said about Latin America in general. Since they're raised on soccer (or fútbol, as they call it) culture, they celebrate the concerts just like the soccer games. So with that in mind, you may as well allow tons of crowd noise in the recording. A good example is "YYZ"- an excellent instrumental, and the whole crowd can be heard singing along. To an instrumental. The crowd's energy is so enticing and beautiful, you feel like joining them in singing along. Another thing about Latin Americans is that they're real music fans- and on this album, Vapor Trails
material is treated just like the classics. Hell, if this album doesn't add "seeing a concert in a Latin American country" to your bucket list, I don't know what will.
Rush in Rio
was recorded during the band's Vapor Trails
tour- an album that was their big comeback, yet also toned down the synths that were dominant of their previous albums and focused on more personal and political lyrics- much of the album's lyrics were written after the tragedies that struck Neil Peart in the late 90s- arguably a dreadful decade for him. He lost his daughter in a car accident and not much longer later, his wife to cancer. All Neil could do was run away instead of killing himself, and so he took to his motorcycle to travel North and Central America, to recover. That story alone makes you really appreciate his powerful performance and presence here- and on the whole tour too. He performs one of his best drum solos ever- a solo so beastly and so inhuman, it roots his "best drummer" status in the ground. As for the rest of the band's performance, well, it's Rush, though Geddy may be losing it when it comes to his voice, he nonetheless sports a youthful stage presence and energy in his vocal delivery that is nothing short of awe-inspiring. His bass work is epic as per usual, and it just goes to show how much more polished his performance ability has become over time. Alex reminds us yet again why he is one of the best guitarists around- his clear and classical style of guitar work shines, and he performs some beastly solos here. The whole band sound like they're half their age, and it's clear that they till have lots left in the tank.
The setlist is excellent as well, with 171 minutes worth of quality renditions of pretty much everything- classics ("Tom Sawyer", "La Villa Strangiato", "2112"), new material ("Ghost Rider", "Earthshine") and even a few rarities ("Driven", "Big Money", "By-tor and the Snow Dog"). Sprawling over three discs, Rush in Rio
is an album that will both win new fans of Rush, please the old fans, and is proof of the band's everlasting staying power. The album does lose points in that some songs from the setlist are missing (which can be heard on the bonus features of the DVD)- but even that doesn't stop this from being one of Rush's finest performances to date. A must own for any fan.