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Great Concert, Average Songs Selection - 75%

Metalich, July 14th, 2007

Third time out for Rush on a live release, highlighting the albums proceeding the last live outing: Signals, Grace Under Pressure, Powered Windows, and Hold Your Fire. By highlighting, I mean that Rush has once again put out a live album that is full of new material (save one song) that has not been released live before. This is a wonderful trend that gives maximum value for your purchase. After all, if you want the older songs, you can already get them on the previous live releases by the band. The one remaining song, “Closer to the Heart” is understandable as an album closer due to its popularity plus the longer instrumental used to end the album on a great final note.

That’s the second thing that is nice; the one song they repeat is a different version. This makes having this version new and interesting. The excellent drum solo fills this role as well. Final thought is the intro. This live album provides one of the silly introduction pieces the band uses to kick off their concerts. In this case it is the 'Three Stooges theme’ (“Three Blind Mice” - cute). Just a fun extra to help capture the live experience and I whole heartedly agree with that. Live albums should be more than a glorified best of compilation with crowd noise.

Another big plus is the production. The sound is good without sounding like it was worked over. Production can kill any album, but especially the fragile balance needed to make a live recording work.

My only real complaint for an otherwise well thought out album is the actual songs selections. This era of Rush features the career shift to 80’s synth-pop, so naturally it is spread over this album. Although to the bands credit, they do pull off the massive production pieces well despite being a 3 piece outfit (assuming you ignore the fact the guys are heavily dependant on synthesizers and sequencers). But going into this live recording I knew I would have to deal with this era of Rush. The big problem for me is that they pulled the majority of the songs from the worse two albums!

Fun with statistics:

Drum solo: 1
Old Song: 1
Repeat Song: 1

Good Albums
Signals: 1
Grace Under Pressure: 2

Poor Albums
Powered Windows: 4
Hold Your Fire: 4

So the best two albums from this era get one fifth of the time while the poor ones get two-thirds! What a waste. But I will give one silver lining to the whole affair: The songs from the poorer albums do sound better here than their studio counterparts thanks to the guitar driven sound from being live. Still, overall there were better songs to pull from this era and the album suffers for it.

In total, this album is equipped with some poor song choices, but the good production and better sound of these songs live, all combined with the little extras and considerations do make it an overall good live album. But let’s face facts, Geddy Lee is one of the best bass guitarists in the industry and the artsy cover shows him playing keyboards – That should tell you something.