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A damn good live album - 87%

westknife, June 23rd, 2004

Rush is great; I never get tired of listening to them, even though I have only a few of their albums. I got this on a whim, mostly because of the "career retrospective" nature of the tracklist. I only knew a handful of the songs here, but the ones I didn't know were just as enjoyable. It's interesting to hear them play brand new songs, and 30-year-old numbers back to back.

From other reviews I've read, I get the impression the sound quality is the most hated of any Rush live album. It's true, the crowd is constantly noticeable, and it is a stadium crowd. I think this is part of the show though, and it's cool to hear everybody scream at a certain part in a song. The music mix is kind of bass-heavy, so it makes for good blasting, and all the instruments are clear (guitar, bass, drums, voice, synth). You can hear everything that's going on at once, which is a rarity in recordings, especially live ones.

The performances themselves are great! It is amazing that after so many years, the band still has a spark, and still transmits so much energy. The songs I already knew (mainly the real famous ones) are played accurately, but also they are adapted very well from studio to a live setting. The songs all feel like they were meant to be live songs, even the radio hits like "Tom Sawyer" and "Spirit of Radio". The ones I didn't already know (mainly the newer songs, especially from the Vapor Trails album) are interesting, and made the performance seem well rounded. Listening to Rush in Rio makes me want to buy those other studio albums that I don't have!

So basically, I give it 90 for being an excellent live album, although I can't give it a perfect score (due to the nature of live albums, having no new songs). A little more improvisation or creative twists on old songs would have been nice, but why nitpick? Rush is obviously still a great live band, even this far into their career.