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Rush - "Rush In Rio"
Atlantic Records 2003

You might ask: "Eh, why the hell a new live album? They've just released one!" Well there are many good reasons for such decision. Actually only one thing remained the same in comparison with previous live album. It is triple again! "Rush In Rio" (with altogether 29 songs and two live bonuses) captures unforgettable electrifying atmosphere that was built by 40.000 crazy Brazilian fans, along with band on stage, caught in perfect daily mood. Actually Rush were accompanied by their fourth member, a 40.000 headed choir.

If "Different Stages" (1998) represents perfection of indoor concert sound standards, than "Rush In Rio" means the same for an "open air" band's activities. Sound of '97 live recordings gives an impression of being built more precisely. You can doctorate over riffs, drum bridges and the way they are played, 'cause on-stage details are perfectly documented, but on the other hand, it is not as live as new live album is. Loudness rules in Rio. It is surely a place where loudness has its home and birthplace. Now if I keep comparing it to "Different Stages". Geddy's singing on new recordings sounds far emotive, drums are sounding even steelier and splashier. Always rough bass guitar balanced to Alex's giant f-holed Gibson, brings even more sparkling contrast into this new on stage sound. Guitar, as a band's main melody maker, is sharper and more aggressive. Untamed, wild on stage sound breathes hellish alive and carries some special spine tingling effect through entire record. And this results in overall impression that Rio's performance is much more powerful. Roll The Bones for example is sung far emotive and addition of keyboards in main theme even more grandiose and epical. Free Will is done even faster and therefore pounds out more life. Whole new sound picture is more dispersed, wider and far colourful.

Hey, Rush are truly riding the crests of the giant waves. Waves provided by loudest possible auditorium on Earth. Riding straight with opener Tom Sawyer, and the way how they float on these waves! Rush are carried on them here and there and everywhere! These waves are gradually raised, and graduation happens very spontaneously. Waves float one after another with constant unpredictable peaks depending on a situation. Crowd follows and responses on band's every single move. I mean the way how they sing along with band. I can not describe crowd's reacting with my own words. You'll have to feel this magic by your own abilities of reception! All I can say is, it is pure fantasy. Well, first waving peak produced by audience is placed just when Geddy touches for the first time his keyboards in opener Tom Sawyer.

This recording was done in one piece, there are no cut offs, and you can enjoy also Geddy's talking to audience. It was unforgettable evening for the band, an atmosphere that is impossible to happen in present tense, on the European, Japanese or North American football stadiums. After these "few" words (and there are next "few" to come) it is not hard to conclude, that band was in some special mood or some kind of excited delirium and that guys gave their hundred and ten percents on stage. In YYZ, people are truly rocking mad along the band. And you won't miss huge cheers also during Neil's unique drum battering in his symphonic solo piece O Baterista, which is basically done under same moniker as The Rhythm Method from "Different Stages". Again, with his mighty marimba and some backing sound effects that really give an impression as if dragon, pictured on a CD's front cover, joined the band on stage for a few rounds of caipirinhas (Brazilian national drink). It is more than just a solo, it is a drum suite!

Now if we gather all these facts and add a coherent unbeatable chemistry that works like "perpetuum mobile" between Rush guys, a new monument of rock has just been born. "Vapour Trails" (2002) material Earthshine, Ghost Rider, Secret Touch and nervous One Little Victory (opener of CD two) along with Limelight, The Big Money, Dreamline and encore's medley By-Tor And The Snow Dog/Cygnus X-1/Working Man, are real straight rocking bombs, offering heavier moments, while songs like The Pass (live rarity!), Distant Early Warning, Bravado, Natural Science, Red Sector A, 2112, Roll The Bones, and "something little woodsy" called The Trees captures epical highlights. And Geddy outstands especially with his emotive singing in another rare live song New World Man, than Bravado, Resist and of course Closer To The Heart, but where I especially like the way how he takes his verses is Distant Early Warning. There is atmosphere also changing very much through entire set list. For example climax on CD two, which starts in straight linear rocking vein through newest material, suddenly changes with Red Sector A and epically graduates further on with reaching its peak at the end where band strikes with 2112. Triple CD contains two live bonuses, you won't find on a "Rush In Rio" DVD. Well, who needs DVD's after all? Music was primarily made for listening. Both bonus live outtakes Between Sun & Moon and Vital Signs were recorded two months earlier, during North American tour.

Guys didn't forget to put some funny sketches, too! Inside jazzy flavoured (surprise, surprise!!!) La Villa Strangiato, Alex is introducing Geddy as Guy From Ipanema (while Geddy in the same vein takes on main theme from song Girl From Ipanema), while Neil was introduced as Mr. Milton Banana "on skins".

Production is phenomenal, I mean superb. Live "open air" atmosphere remained unharmed. It easily takes the listener to ride along with the band and 40.000 crazy maniacs. And this is most important fact. Capturing the true event's atmosphere was done with pure perfection and no mistake.

Music journalists call them as an art rock. I don't understand this description, yet Rush (as you've already might noticed over 30 years of bands presence on rock scene) really rock and they are true artists. To hell with all these analytic descriptions! Music is music. And we have only two types of it. It can sound good or bad. And each of us has his own criteria about that.

Well, my point is and it is no big news, Rush are rocking like hell on their unique gutsy way. But at same vein, they are delivering another artwork ("Different Stages" deserves the same superlative) of legendary live albums like Purple's "Made In Japan" , Heep's "Live '73" or Zepp's "The Song Remains The Same" format, proving again they are one of the best live acts (if not the best) that ever crawled on Earth. "Rush In Rio" is an absolute winner in category "live album of a year '03". Time will tell if it'll win also in category of a live album of decade(s). It simply rocks, it captures amazing shivering atmosphere, done by irreplaceable chemistry, a kind of magic that only those three Martians are capable of. Any disbelievers left? If Rush would have missed opportunity to release a live album in front of such numerous devoted crowd and under the sky of hot Brazilian temperament, this would be an irreparable mistake, that not only Rush, but we all might regret. After 30 years, still so much boiling enthusiasm and amazing powers, with such sincere dedication to rock and roll that blows off the stage majority of hot spotted younger acts of (let us say) all metal rock genres, that can only watch, listen and learn on from Rush! This is a live document you gotta have! A masterwork for all the eternity!

Author:   Aleš

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