This live album from the legendary Canadian prog trio is awesome. The songs are great, the musicianship is superb, and the vibe of the audience was intense and musical.I don’t understand what the fuss is about the sound quality of this album. I think the sound quality is excellent. Remember this is a live album, and this is a honest live recording that I have heard so far. I have heard live albums where there is some overdubs and fixes on mistakes in the mix, that you wonder if it is even live at all. To me that is not honest. As a society, I believe our ears have gotten so used to clean overproduced polished pop music, that hearing mistakes or a rough mix of something is not appropriate. If you want perfection, listen to classical music.If anyone has read the liner notes for the CD, Neil Peart was quoted as saying that the music was recorded from a primitive recording truck, and that there was no time for soundcheck, no test for the recording crew, and no test for the camera. Basically everyone involved in the creation of the concert had to wing it, and from listening to the album, I think it turned out well. Alex Lifeson and the engineer did a great job of mixing the album to make it as live sounding as possible. My advice for people who purchase recorded music: do your homework and read the liner notes that accompany the music to understand everything that is involved in making an album.I would also like to say that the audience really complemented the band by singing along with the tunes. You do not hear many fans around the world, really listening and vibing to the music, as in Brazil. The album really appealed to me, more in vibe and soul, than in the sound. Rush has always been a band that has been critized for being too technical and not showing emotion, and their live shows being predictable. This time they did it backwards, and played the music to their hearts content in a risky and intense situation where everything was done on the fly with minimal preparation involved.Thank you Alex, Geddy, and Neil for a wonderful documented live souveneir.
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In 2003, the legendary Progressive Rock band Rush released a 3 Disc Set on CD and a 2 Disc Set on DVD covering their 2002 concert in Rio de Janeiro. This review will chronicle the CD release. The background for this concert was that this was the concert recorded on the final night of the “Vapor Trails” tour. Rush had been on about a 5 year hiatus following the tragic death’s of drummer Neil Peart’s wife and daughter. The album “Vapor Trails” marked a reunion for the Canadian rock trio following what would be their longest hiatus as a band. This was the first time Rush had ever played Rio.
The serious Rush fan will probably want to get both the 3 Disc CD Set and the 2 Disc DVD set. The Rio Concert that is on the first DVD is contained on the CD set in its entirety, There are two differences between the CD and DVD: 1) On the DVD set, in addition to the actual Rio concert there is a documentary about the Brazilian shows and Rush called “The Boys in Brazil”. There are also multi angle views of three of the concerts instrumentals as well as some hidden “Easter Eggs”; 2) The CD Set contains two “Bootleg” songs that you won’t get on this DVD set – “Betweeen the Sun & Moon” and “Vital Signs”.
When you have 28 years of material to perform as well as promoting a new album, it can be very difficult to pick what songs to select. Rush does a pretty good job at covering their material. I personally view Rush has having three distinct eras. Some Rush fans may disagree, but this is how I categorize the music: 1) The Epic Works Era (1974-1980: “Rush to “Hemispheres”) – this is a focus on longer more epic songs with a SciFi and Fantasy Influence; 2) The Synth Era (1980-1989: “Permanent Waves” to “Presto”) – Rush moves to shorter songs covering a wide range of topics from History, Sociology, Psychology, and even touches of SciFi and of course Rush makes use of technology and synthesizers to get the sound; 3) The ‘Modern’ Era (1990 – Present: “Roll the Bones” through “Vapor Trails”) – Rush moves away from Synthesizers and now incorporates a more hard rock sound. The Rush in Rio collection covers 29 songs (27 from Rio and two bonus tracks from other shows). There are 6 songs from the Epic Works Era, 13 songs from the Synth Era, and 10 songs (including 4 from “Vapor Trails”) from the Modern Era – some might argue what songs were picked from what era ( I would have liked to see some other songs from “Power Windows” , “Grace Under Pressure” and “Hold You Fire”), but they did spread the table pretty well.
The big complaint many make about the CD abd DVD sets is the sound quality. If you read the liner notes, you might think the bad weather caused the bad sound. This may be true to some extent, but I personally think this recording has an element of realism. Without watching the performance, you can almost hear how Rush will connect with crowd and do it well. If there is any argument with the complaint on the sound quality – it could be directed at the first two tracks “Tom Sawyer” and “Distant Early Warning”, but these aren’t that bad. After these songs, the quality picks up and you will truly hear the realistic element I mention.
The nice thing about this concert is that it is presented in its entirety. The CD recording flows just like the DVD recording that flows as close as anything short of being at the concert. The first disc contains the 1st half of the concert before the intermission. The second half following the intermission starts on disc two and finishes on disc three. The extra “bootleg” tracks are on disc 3. While Rush performs many favorite songs (“Tom Sawyer”, “The Big Money”, “Closer to the Heart”, “Red Sector A”, “2112″, “Limelight”, and many more) – it is some of the lesser known or older songs that fans might not have heard (recently) in concert that really stand out. In particular, listen to songs such as “The Pass” ,”YYZ”, “Natural Science”, and “Dreamline” and you will see what I mean.
The band gets to showcase with the individual talents. Neil Peart does an incredible drum solo that pays tribute to the history of percussion called “O Baterista”. Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee do a “Rush Unplugged” acoustic number of “Resist”. Rush also performs an older song “La Villa Stangiato” that features Alex Lifeson ‘rambling’ and showing his sense of humor.
The big drawback of this set is the packaging. The three disc set was not packaged in a jewel case, but using a cardboard box. The box for such a “special collection” opens up and can start to wear and tear rather quickly. It also is a bit difficult to pull the CDs out of the package, thus the risk for scratching can get higher. They did this to keep the price down, but I think its a real negative. Of the CDs, two are close shades grey and one is red. I think it would have been easier to pick another color besides a shade of gray to make it easier to identify.
The terrific liner notes included in the set called “Flying Down to Rio – Leaving Vapor Trails Behind”. This was written by drummer Neil Peart (a great writer) was originally included in the DVD set, but are also included in the CD set with a preamble on why they also made the CD set. One final note, listening to this CD will give you as good a feel for the concert as the DVD set. All in all, this is a solid release by Rush and it should keep the fans happy.
A lot of people have complained about the mixing of this CD, and since Rush has always had high quality control standards, I can offer only this thought.
I’ve never – never – heard a crowd this energized for anyone. I’m not sure they made this much noise for the Beatles at Shea in 1965. Listening to this is almost like looking down on the band from the lawn seats, in terms of what I hear, and the crowd noise excites me as much as anything the band does here. Maybe that influenced the band’s decision not to emphasize their parts unnaturally in the mix, and anyway, I have had no problem making out the instrumentalists or what they’re doing – particularly Lee, who gets the most clarity and warmth he’s ever had on a live album without the benefit of a soundcheck. Sometimes Geddy’s voice and the crowd’s tie for volume, but he’s effortless and in pitch throughout.
Download Real if you don’t have it, and listen to the samples here for a good idea of whether or not their mixing will bother you. To me, several songs are given what sound like definitive renditions ["Big Money," "Dreamline," "Red Sector A"...and even if it's not the clearest recording ever, it's fun to hear Rio drown out Geddy on "Tom Sawyer"] and it would be a mistake to ignore the obvious exchange of energy and emotion between the band and the audience just because the audience hasn’t been muted through the song and jacked artificially for the segues. Casual fans of Rush might do without, but anyone who enjoys hearing Rush live will love this.
Let me state first and foremost that I rarely, if ever, complain about the overall sound quality of an album. Usually a little tinkering of the EQ fixes whatever perceived deficencies exist in the album, or it sounds better through a different pair of speakers. Let me also state that I was very much looking forward to the release of this album. I thought Rush sounded as good as they ever did on the VT tour, and the setlist included some songs I never thought I’d get to hear live.However, I cannot state how disappointing the sound quality is on this disc. Simply put, it is terrible…possibly the worst-sounding live disc I have ever heard (officially released, that is). And contrary to what you may read on others opinions here, this complaint ISN’T exaggerated and it CAN’T be overlooked. The poor audio EQing and the atrocious mixing ruin what could have been a fantastic live album. Musically, tunes such as YYZ, Secret Touch, Between Sun and Moon, Limelight, etc. sound fantastic and full of life…and let’s not forget Neil’s revamped drum solo, which is equally jaw-dropping on disc as it was live. Unfortunately, all of that is wasted on a disc that has too much crowd, not enough vocals, drums that sound like tin cans, and a jumbled mix of instruments that sound, oftentimes, like one great big mess. This is especially hard to take from a band like Rush, who pride themselves on their perfection in the studio and in the live setting. I don’t care of this *was* viewed by the band as an afterthought official bootleg. It wasn’t priced like an afterthought, and surely it wouldn’t have hurt to spend a few extra days at the mixing desk tweaking things. This is a hack job, pure and simple.So, take this as a warning–those of you looking for Different Stages 2 will be sorely disappointed. I didn’t buy into the other reviews here who said the same things, and now I am planning on selling the album back to a used CD store. Throw me some ‘not helpful’ votes if you wish, but those will by no means negate the fact that Rush in Rio is a disappointing, frustrating affair.
Most live CD’s are so polished that they sound like studio albums with crowd noise piped in between tracks. The only reason to buy them is to see how the guitarist voices the songs with one guitar instead of studio overdubs (and many live albums have overdubs that ruin even that); however, ‘Rush in Rio’ captures a true live sound like no live CD (or album) I have ever heard since Kiss Alive. To get a live recording through the mixing board the band can jam with or without a crowd, and apart from possibly a bit more energy in the performances, what is the point. The liner notes claim a primitive Brazilian mobile recording truck captured the performance, but it also captured the ambiance of the massive soccer stadium full of 40,000 fans, the energy and excitement of a live show. I have been to over 100 live concerts (6 of them Rush) and if you close your eyes listening to this CD your ears hear what a live show delivers. Better yet, buy the Rush in Rio DVD and keep your eyes open!I did read one review below that complained of the sound quality. If you want a great sound quality recording, but the studio CD’s. This CD gives live sound that was never meant to be clear as a bell. One very interest note is that at every concert I have ever been to, the mix is always a bit off on the first two or three songs as the sound people adjust for the arena and the given night. True to that, the first few tracks of this are the worst of the mixes, but again that is all part of the live experience. Rush rocks, makes us think, and amazes us that three men deliver such rich and dynamic sounds. My favorite band is great again. Thank you Geddy, Alex and Neal.PS If you read ‘Ghost Rider’ by Neal Peart you will have a much greater appreciation of his performance and presence on this tour.