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Permanent Waves Play

Since Neil Peart joined the band in time for 1975's Fly by Night, Rush had been experimenting and growing musically with each successive release. By 1980's Permanent Waves, the modern sounds of new wave (the Police, Peter Gabriel, etc.) began to creep into Rush's sound, but the trio still kept their hard rock roots intact. The new approach paid off -- two of their most popular songs, the "make a difference" anthem "Freewill," and a tribute to the Toronto radio station CFNY, "The Spirit of Radio" (the latter a U.K. Top 15 hit), are spectacular highlights. Also included were two "epics," the stormy "Jacob's Ladder" and the album-closing "Natural Science," which contains a middle section that contains elements of reggae. Geddy Lee also began singing in a slightly lower register around this time, which made their music more accessible to fans outside of the heavy prog rock circle. The album proved to be the final breakthrough Rush needed to become an arena headliner throughout the world, beginning a string of albums that would reach inside the Top Five of the U.S. Billboard album charts. Permanent Waves is an undisputed hard rock classic, but Rush would outdo themselves with their next release. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi

Signals Play

Instead of playing it safe and writing Moving Pictures, Pt. II, Rush replaced their heavy rock of yesteryear with even more modern sounds for 1982's Signals. Synthesizers were now an integral part of the band's sound, and replaced electric guitars as the driving force for almost all the tracks. And more current and easier-to-grasp topics (teen peer pressure, repression, etc.) replaced their trusty old sci-fi-inspired lyrics. While other rock bands suddenly added keyboards to their sound to widen their appeal, Rush gradually merged electronics into their music over the years, so such tracks as the popular MTV video "Subdivisions" did not come as a shock to longtime fans. And Rush didn't forget how to rock out -- "The Analog Kid" and "Digital Man" were some of their most up-tempo compositions in years. The surprise hit, "New World Man," and "Chemistry" combined reggae and rock (begun on 1980's Permanent Waves), "The Weapon" bordered on new wave, the placid "Losing It" featured Ben Mink on electric violin, while the epic closer "Countdown" painted a vivid picture of a space shuttle launch. Signals proved that Rush were successfully adapting to the musical climate of the early '80s. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi

Roll the Bones Play

From a lyrical perspective, 1991's Roll the Bones is quite possibly Rush's darkest album (most of the songs deal with death in no uncertain terms), but from a musical point of view, the record treads territory (highbrow melodic hard rock) similar to its recent predecessors, with only a few surprises thrown in for good measure. These include an amusing rap section in the middle of the title track, a welcome return to instrumentals with "Where's my Thing?," and one of the band's finest songs of the '90s in the gutsy "Dreamline." "Neurotica" is another highlight which lives up to its title, and though their negative subject matter can feel stifling at times, fine tracks like "Bravado," "The Big Wheel," and "Heresy" feature wonderful melodies and arrangements. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi

Presto Play

After being slagged off for the electronic ambience of its predecessor releases such as 1985's Power Windows and 1984's Grace Under Pressure, Rush bounced back with their 13th release, Presto. Yet again the prog-rock trio proved that their tight guitar work and lyrical originality was not long lost or overlooked in an attempt to secure the latest technical flash. Rupert Hine's production work totally brings things to the forefront by molding solid piano breaks instead of the typical adventure-like synthesizers into Alex Lifeson's spellbinding guitar work. The sound quality is strong and thick, making the sounds of Presto complete. Neil Peart also makes headway with his natural percussion power, and Geddy Lee's trademark delivery of Peart's lyrical complexities shine like signature Rush perfectionism. Songs like "Scars" and "Superconductor" are sonically firm, but "Show Don't Tell" is the album's infectious standout that's heightened thanks to Lee's stunning vocal wizardry. Presto intelligently leads Rush into the '90s without musical bleakness. They weren't ones to be blinded by such creative mediocrity anyway. ~ MacKenzie Wilson, Rovi

Through the Camera Eye Play

Through the Camera Eye compiles eight of Rush's early-'80s videos, although "Tom Sawyer" was actually extracted from the Exit...Stage Left live video. As with many '80s videos, there are plenty of cheesy, dated moments, but several clever moments too. "Distant Early Warning" is one of Rush's best, most consistent videos. The performance footage is strong, but this war-themed video is perhaps most notable for the boy-riding-a-missile sequences, which shamelessly rip off the famous scene of Slim Pickens riding an atomic bomb in Stanley Kubrick's classic film Dr. Strangelove. "Vital Signs" was filmed at Le Studio, where Rush recorded many albums. "The Body Electric" and "The Enemy Within" use the same set, and both contain hokey yet well-intentioned science-fiction elements. "Subdivisions" and "Countdown" both use the same performance set too (obviously a money-saving practice in the early days of music video); the former brilliantly depicts a lonely suburban teenager, while the latter includes NASA footage of the first space shuttle launch. "Afterimage," a vastly underrated song from Grace Under Pressure, touches on the emotions that survivors feel after a loved one dies. The video captures these themes superbly through the intensity of drummer/lyricist Neil Peart and the abstract, Victorian-era concept scenes, some of which show a little boy at a funeral. [Through the Camera Eye is out of print in the United States.] ~ Bret Adams, Rovi

Snakes & Arrows Play

When Rush issued Vapor Trails in 2002, they revealed that -- even after Neil Peart's personal tragedies in the 1990s had cast the group's future in doubt -- they were back with a vengeance. The sound was hard-hitting, direct, and extremely focused. Lyrically, Peart went right after the subject matter he was dealing with -- and it was in the aftermath of 9/11 as well, which couldn't help but influence his lyric writing. In 2004 the band issued a covers EP that was in one way a toss-off, but in another a riotous act of freewheeling joy that offered a side of the band no one had heard for 30 years. There were a couple of live offerings and a 30th anniversary project as well that kept fans happy perhaps, but broke -- though Rush in Rio was the kind of live album every band hopes to record. Snakes & Arrows represents the band's 18th studio album. Produced by Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver, Superdrag), the record is another heavy guitar, bass, and drums...drums...and more drums record. The title came -- unconsciously according to Peart -- from a centuries-old Buddhist game of the same name about karma, and also from a play on the words of the children's game Chutes and Ladders. Its subject matter is heavy duty: faith and war. From the opening track (and first single), acoustic and electric guitars, bass hum, and Peart's crash-and-thrum urgency in the almighty riff are all present. When Geddy Lee opens his mouth, you know you are in for a ride: "Pariah dogs and wandering madmen/Barking at strangers and speaking in tongues/The ebb and flow of tidal fortune/Electrical charges are charging up the young/It's a far cry from the world we thought we'd inherit/It's a far cry from the way we thought we'd share it...." At the same time, inside the frame of the refrain, Lee refuses to be conquered in the face of chaos: "One day I feel like I'm ahead of the wheel/And the next it's rolling over me/I can get back on/I can get back on." Alex Lifeson's guitars swell and Peart's crash cymbals ride the riff and push Lee to sing above the wailing fray. Great beginning.
"Armor and Sword" contains an instrumental surprise. After an initial ride-cymbal clash, the guitar and bassline sound exactly like King Crimson playing something from Red or Larks' Tongues in Aspic. The theme is repeated on an acoustic guitar before Lee begins singing about the shadowy side of human nature brought on by the many times children are scarred in development. The boom and crackle of electric guitars and bass are all there, but so is that sense of melody that Rush have trademarked as Lee states, "...No one gets to their heaven without a fight/We hold beliefs as a consolation/A way to take us out of ourselves...." There is no screed for or against religion per se, but a stake in the claim of hope and faith as absolutely necessary to accomplish anything, hence the refrain. Peart beautifully articulates the dark side of life's undersurface; he has been writing the best lyrics of his entire career on the band's last two studio records -- only two in the last ten years. The dynamic works against the melody and Lifeson's brief but screaming solo is a fine cap on it. "Workin' Them Angels" blends the acoustic against the electrics gorgeously, and Lee sings counterpoint to the guitars. "The Larger Bowl" is one of those Rush tunes that builds and builds both lyrically and musically, beginning with only Lee's voice and Lifeson's acoustic guitar. Its shift-and-knot rhythms and spatial dynamics offer the impression -- as does the rest of the album -- that the bandmembers are playing in the same room at the same time (it happened to a lesser degree on Vapor Trails, but here the impression is constant). The sounds -- both hard and soft -- blend together wonderfully. The live feel of the record with its sonic washes and overdubbed guitars and vocals creates near chaos without loss of control. It's like teetering on the edge of an abyss with one eye on both sides of it. Song by song, the notions of tension build, taking the listener to a place where hope and faith are challenged continually, not only in the face of the entire world, but in one's personal relationships -- check "Spindrift." Echoes of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Robert Frost, Matthew Arnold, and The Odyssey are glanced upon, as is The Dhammapada in the Buddhist scriptures -- with more of a thematic than referential purpose.
Amid all this seriousness, there is a bit of humor. The instrumental track "Malignant Narcissism" references a line in the comedic film Team America: World Police from Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park fame. It comes from a line in the film that reveals how terrorists think. It's one of three absolutely stunning instrumentals; another is "The Main Monkey Business," which sounds like the closest Rush have gotten to jamming in the studio in over 20 years. Think of the intensity of 2112 with the musicianship of Vapor Trails, and you begin to get a picture: screaming guitars, deep bass thrum, soaring keyboards, and all those pop-and-boom drums from Peart's massive kit. "The Way the Wind Blows" is Rush taking on the blues in massive metallic style, and it feels more like Cream in the intro. Lee's vocal drives deep inside the lyric -- it's tense, paranoid, yet revelatory. It's about the perverse magnetism of religion and war, and how both are seemingly designed to be cause and effect: fanatical religiosity leads to war. There are different theories on this, but Peart distills them well, as if he's read (but not necessarily completely understood) René Girard's seminal work Violence and the Sacred. The album changes pace a bit with the instrumental "Hope," a largely 12-string acoustic guitar piece played off a medieval theme by Lifeson. "Faithless" is anything but. It's one of those Rush tracks where counterpoint vocals against the guitars and basslines create that unique welling of sound that occurs when the band is at its peak on-stage. The set ends with "We Hold On," a track that expresses the sum total of all the struggles life offers and holds. Here Eliot the poet is quoted directly at the end of the third verse. It's anthemic, with backmasked guitars, Peart playing actual breaks, and Lee's bass holding the chaos together with a constant pulsing throb, guiding the various knotty musical changes back to the center of the verse and refrain, which is the place where the cut just explodes in sonic fury. Snakes & Arrows is one of the tightest conceptual records the band has ever released. Musically, it is as strong as their very best material, without a lapse in texture, composition, production, musicianship, or sheer rock intensity. There are real heart and fire in this album. It was well worth waiting for. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

Caress of Steel Play

When Rush finished their third album, Caress of Steel, the trio was assured that they had created their breakthrough masterpiece. But when the album dropped off the charts soon after its release, it proved otherwise. While it was Rush's first release that fully explored their prog rock side, it did not contain the catchy and more traditional elements of their future popular work -- it's quite often too indulgent and pretentious for a mainstream rock audience to latch onto. And while Rush would eventually excel in composing lengthy songs, the album's two extended tracks -- the 12½-minute "The Necromancer" and the nearly 20-minute "The Fountain of Lamneth" -- show that the band was still far from mastering the format. The first side contains two strong and more succinct tracks, the raging opener, "Bastille Day," and the more laid-back "Lakeside Park," both of which would become standards for their live show in the '70s. But the ill-advised "I Think I'm Going Bald" (which lyrically deals with growing old) borders on the ridiculous, which confirms that Caress of Steel is one of Rush's more unfocused albums. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi

Rush Play

Rush's self-titled debut is about as uncharacteristic of their renowned heavy progressive rock (perfected on such future releases as Hemispheres, Moving Pictures, etc.) as you can get. Instead of complex arrangements and thoughtful lyrics, Rush sounds almost identical to Led Zeppelin throughout -- bluesy riffs merged with "baby, baby" lyrics. The main reason for the album's different sound and direction is that their lyricist/drummer, Neil Peart, was not in the band yet, skinsman John Rutsey rounds out the original line-up, also consisting of Geddy Lee (bass/vocals) and Alex Lifeson (guitar). It's nearly impossible to hear the anthemic "Finding My Way" and not picture Robert Plant shrieking away, or Jimmy Page riffing on the jamfest "Working Man," but Rush was still in their formative stages. There's no denying that Lee and Lifeson were already strong instrumentalists, but such predictable compositions as "In the Mood" and "What You're Doing" prove that Peart was undoubtedly the missing piece to the puzzle. While longtime Rush fans can appreciate their debut because they never returned to this style, newcomers should stick with their classics from later years. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi

A Farewell to Kings Play

On 1977's A Farewell to Kings it quickly becomes apparent that Rush had improved their songwriting and strengthened their focus and musical approach. Synthesizers also mark their first prominent appearance on a Rush album, a direction the band would continue to pursue on future releases. With the popular hit single "Closer to the Heart," the trio showed that they could compose concise and traditionally structured songs, while the 11-minute "Xanadu" remains an outstanding accomplishment all these years later (superb musicianship merged with vivid lyrics help create one of Rush's best all-time tracks). The album-opening title track begins with a tasty classical guitar/synth passage, before erupting into a powerful rocker. The underrated "Madrigal" proves to be a delicately beautiful composition, while "Cinderella Man" is one of Rush's few songs to include lyrics penned entirely by Geddy Lee. The ten-minute tale of a dangerous black hole, "Cygnus X-1," closes the album on an unpredictable note, slightly comparable to the two bizarre extended songs on 1975's Caress of Steel. A Farewell to Kings successfully built on the promise of their breakthrough 2112, and helped broaden their audience. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi

Test for Echo Play

After flirting (albeit mildly) with alternative rock on Counterparts, Rush returns to classic progressive rock on Test for Echo. Cutting back many of the AOR production flourishes that hampered most of their late-'80s and early-'90s releases, the band concentrates on the sounds and styles that made albums like Moving Pictures huge successes in the late '70s and early '80s. Test for Echo is all instrumental gymnastics and convoluted song structures, all of which demonstrate each member's skills. And the key to the album is the individual performances, since each song isn't particularly memorable as a song, only as a way to showcase the solos. With Rush, such a tactic isn't necessarily a bad thing, since they have always been better at playing than writing, and they have rarely played better in the past ten years than they have on Test for Echo. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Clockwork Angels Play

Clockwork Angels has been a long time coming. Rush foreshadowed it in 2010 by releasing "BU2B," and "Caravan" to radio. The next single, "Headlong Flight," didn't appear until 2012. Co-produced with Nick Raskulinecz (who also worked on 2007's Snakes & Arrows), Clockwork Angels is a return to the concept album by the band that perfected it on 2112 in 1976. It centers on a loose narrative about a young man following his dreams. He struggles with inner and outer forces of order and chaos; he encounters an expansive world where colors, images, territories, and characters are embodied by pirates, strange carnivals, rabble-rousing anarchists, and lost cities. His enemy is the Watchmaker, a ruthless authoritarian presence who attempts to rule the universe and all aspects of everyday life with fascistic precision. Neil Peart's lyrics embrace notions of alchemy and steampunk sci-fi in his thematics. (The album is due to be novelized by Peart and sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson.) Musically, Rush step up the prog from Snakes & Arrows without losing the blistering riffs or hooks. Alex Lifeson's acoustic guitars have an established place here, but his electric axes roar over them throughout. Geddy Lee's bass is mixed further up-front than it has been in some time -- which makes his mind-blowing chops resound: there are amazing pizzicatos interspersed in driving hard rock fills and edgy, off-kilter funk riffs. His voice is more nuanced and more emotionally expressive. Peart's drumming is the catalyst: his technical mastery makes his playing sound purely instinctive. CA is full of dynamic surprises, wild rhythmic variations, and expansive textures. This set sprawls, embracing everything from metal and prog to electric jazz to flamenco touches -- and more. Varied musical shades jostle up against one another, keeping the listener not only engaged, but delightfully surprised. "BU2B" and "Caravan" are slightly different than their single incarnations -- more was added and for the better. There are nods to the band's past in the blistering intro to "Seven Cities of Gold" and the snarling rampage in "The Anarchist." Lifeson breathes fire on both. The title track is nearly a concept album by itself. It contains a grand Townshend-esque overture, punishing twists and turns, bluesy acoustic interludes, and a grand finish. "Halo Effect" is destined to be among the band's classic power ballads with a dramatic middle and end. The album's seven-minute tour de force, "Headlong Flight," careens across musical genres with ceaseless intensity. "Wish Them Well" is an anthemic hard-edged pop song, while closer "The Garden" is an intricate seven-minute ballad with numerous odd angles and labyrinthine sonic corridors. Ultimately, Clockwork Angels demonstrates why, after 36 years, Rush's fan base continues to grow. Its musical athleticism and calisthenic discipline are equaled only by its relentless creative drive and its will to express it in a distinct musical language. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

Power Windows Play

Like much of the band's '80s output, Power Windows finds Rush juggling their hard-rock heritage with new technology to mixed results. With Alex Lifeson choosing sparse, horn-like guitar bursts over actual crunch, Geddy Lee's synthesizers running rampant, and Neil Peart's crisp, clinical percussion and stark lyrical themes (evoking cold urban landscapes), the result just may be the trio's "coldest" album ever. Still, it does boast its share of important tracks in "Marathon" and "Manhattan Project," while offering an energetic, tongue-in-cheeck hit single in "The Big Money." In an album that rewards patience (repeated listens are the key), the most gripping moments are saved for last, with the beautifully eerie textures of "Mystic Rhythms," a song that was later used as a concert drum solo showcase for Peart. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi

2112 Play

Whereas Rush's first two releases, their self-titled debut and Fly by Night, helped create a buzz among hard rock fans worldwide, the more progressive third release, Caress of Steel, confused many of their supporters. Rush knew it was now or never with their fourth release, and they delivered just in time -- 1976's 2112 proved to be their much sought-after commercial breakthrough and remains one of their most popular albums. Instead of choosing between prog rock and heavy rock, both styles are merged together to create an interesting and original approach. The entire first side is comprised of the classic title track, which paints a chilling picture of a future world where technology is in control (Peart's lyrics for the piece being influenced by Ayn Rand). Comprised of seven "sections," the track proved that the trio members were fast becoming rock's most accomplished instrumentalists. The second side contains shorter selections, such as the Middle Eastern-flavored "A Passage to Bangkok" and the album-closing rocker "Something for Nothing." 2112 is widely considered by Rush fans as their first true "classic" album, the first in a string of similarly high-quality albums. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi

Fly by Night Play

Prior to one of Rush's first U.S. tours, original drummer John Rutsey split from the band, since he wasn't prepared to commit to the band's rigorous touring schedule. And it proved to be a blessing in disguise, since his replacement was to become one of the most respected rock drummers of all time, Neil Peart, who would also steer the band towards success with more challenging material -- starting with Fly by Night. While the title track and the album-closing ballad, "In the End," still had Zeppelin roots, the album isn't as straightforward as the debut. Rush's first bona-fide classic, "Anthem," is included, while the over eight-minute "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" helped pave the way for the group's future epics ("2112," "Cygnus X-1," etc.), and introduced the fans to Peart's imaginative lyric writing, often tinged with science-fiction themes. The reflective and melodic "Making Memories" is an underrated early composition, while "Beneath, Between, & Behind" is a furious heavy rocker. Fly by Night may not be one of Rush's finest albums, but it is one of their most important -- it showed that the young band was leaving their Zep-isms behind in favor of a more challenging and original direction. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi

Working Men Play

Rush is no stranger to best-of compilation albums, they’ve released a slew of them. They are also no stranger to DVDs. To mark their 35th anniversary, they've released Working Men, which is both; it marks their first best-of live compilation exclusively from the DVD sets Rush in Rio (2003), R30 (2005), and Snakes & Arrows Live (2008). There is also an unreleased cut from R30 -- a killer version of One Little Victory. While fans may simply regard this as a record company cash grab, hardcore fans know how closely Rush monitors each release and controls all aspects of their career. On hearing these tracks without benefit of the visuals, it becomes lucidly clear that in the 21st century, Rush plays more like a hungry act looking to prove themselves rather than as seasoned veterans jaded by the entire business. The instrumental interaction between Neal Peart, Alex Lifeson, and Geddy Lee is utterly uncanny, the anticipation and the willingness to add flourishes and to challenge one another in the bridges and solo sections reveal their command of the material and their empathies for one another's playing strengths. One of the more revealing things on a live record such as this one is the sophistication in Lee's vocal delivery now that his singing voice has deepened with age. The only time on the entire disc when it doesn’t entirely work is when he tries to recapture his old, piercing caterwaul on 2112, but in that spontaneity there is not only charm, but the shock that he can still get close to that pitch. The track list contains material from every period in the band’s history, from Working Men and Closer to the Heart, to Tom Sawyer and Dreamline. One Little Victory, from the Vapour Trails album -- the set that brought them back to their hard-rocking roots -- roars out of the gate with a Peart drum break and charges head-on into the maelstrom, with melody eking out of Lee’s overdriven, pulsing bassline and Lifeson’s banging metal riffs. It’s completely inspiring. In sum, this is far from a throwaway compilation; it sums up the band’s energy and renewed commitment in the 21st century, and reveals in audio what the DVDs did so spectacularly: that Rush is as vital and creative as ever; and they rock far harder than virtually any of the younger bands who try to emulate their creativity and natural energy, or ape their trademark progressive power trio invention. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

Chronicles Play

Though the band has since released four more albums on Atlantic Records, this double-disc set was the original, definitive Rush anthology, spanning the band's entire 15-year, 16-album relationship with Mercury Records. In fact, this set is virtually perfect, clearly illustrating the Canadian power trio's evolution from Cream/Zeppelin enthusiasts into a groundbreaking, progressive hard rock unit. Acclaimed classics like "Finding My Way," "Fly by Night," "A Passage to Bangkok," "Closer to the Heart," "The Spirit of Radio," and "Tom Sawyer" are interspersed with less-well-known, but equally vital tracks like "Bastille Day," "La Villa Strangiato," "Limelight," "Subdivisions," and "Red Sector A" to paint a literal moving picture (pun intended) of the band's career. As a testament to its excellence, Mercury was incapable of improving upon this package when releasing the nearly identical Retrospective six years later on two separate CDs. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi

Gold [Mercury] Play

Not as expansive as the impressive Chronicles, this edition of the excellent Gold series covers many of the greatest hits from one of Canada's top exports and finest contributors to the rock & roll tapestry. Largely covering Rush during the '70s and early '80s, Gold's track sequencing is wildly erratic with no real logic in place concerning how the songs blend into one another. But all of the hits are here, from the earliest -- "Working Man" and "Free Will" -- all the way up to the later MTV favorites. This covers pretty much all that a casual fan will ever need. Diehards will most likely own all of these songs thanks to Chronicles, but those who slept on that anthology would be well served in picking this up to fill holes in their collection. ~ Rob Theakston, Rovi

Rush in Rio Play

Set for production as a live DVD from the Vapour Trails tour, the audio from Rush in Rio clearly stands as a startling historical and musical document. The live mix is simply superb and reveals the show as it happened, without overdubs or DAT splices. The band played in front of their second-largest crowd ever, 40,000 people on the final night of the tour. (The largest was 60,000-plus the night before in São Paulo in the rain.) Covering three CDs, this is one of those documents that can make a punter wonder why he ever doubted the glory, majesty, and heavy, overblown, pretentious rock power of Rush. Opening with thunderous crowd noise, "Tom Sawyer" -- with complete audience participation from the git -- it is somehow awe-inspiring to hear 40,000 people singing the song with Geddy Lee. These people are so crazy; they aren't left out of the mix because they couldn't be! But it works. There was no soundcheck that night due to production delays in the arena. This is the sound of a band going for it in spite of everything and on the wing -- and the sound, very live, very real, extremely dynamic -- and not only do they pull it off; they issue their best live outing ever. Seeing Rush live can be an experience, but only those people in Rio saw them like this: far from complacent veteran rock stars, they musically push their own envelopes to the breaking point and goad each other onto ever greater intensity. Lee's bass playing has never been this ferocious, so aggressive and driving -- on a live album anyway. Neil Peart pushes the entire band with his polyrhythmic assault and overdriven flourishes and fills; knowing this is the last date, he gives it all up in every single track. And Alex Lifeson, ever the band player, is, on this night anyway, simply the greatest arena rock guitarist in the world. The program ranges over the band's entire recorded output. The majority of the material comes from Farewell to Kings and after, though "Working Man," "2112," and a medley of "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" and "Cygnus X-1" are present here. Versions of "Roll the Bones," "The Big Money," "One Little Victory," "Ghost Rider," "Red Sector A," and "La Villa Strangiato" are given something like their definitive reads. Again, on well-known tracks like "Closer to the Heart," "Free Will," and "Spirit of Radio," the crowd participation would normally be off-putting. In this context, however, it is an asset. One can hear how this adulation and frenzy literally feeds the band, forcing the issue and making these breathtaking performances. To round out the encores on disc three Rush has included "board bootlegs" of "Between Sun & Moon" and "Vital Signs" that are more than worthy performances. They were taken from shows in Phoenix and Quebec. For those for whom Rush is a secret and guilty pleasure, it's time to indulge it openly by playing this for friends who erroneously insist that Sonic Youth or Strokes concert bootlegs are the epitome of "big-label live rock." For the faithful, you'll know. This one is bloody great. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi
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