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Rush R30 Deluxe Edition DVD

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Sunday, December 4, 2005 @ 5:55 AM

Anthem Film and Television Zo

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I knew this chick…I always thought she was kind of a whore, you know, all the tell tale signs were there—toss off references to gang bangs and other, somewhat more vague disclosures regarding skin discoloration and minor swelling. Anyway, the only thing this has to do with Rush is that in between assorted alcoholic beverages on certain lovelorn evenings—drinks that I purchased by the way--this woman kept going and on about Alex Lifeson’s “package”.

“It’s soooo big.” She said.

“Fuck that.” I said. “You want something big between your legs, why don’t you go and straddle Geddy Lee’s nose?”

I think I really ended up hating that lady---it seemed like she was always giving it out to everyone else but me. Maybe I’ve always taken that resentment and held it against Rush to a certain extent. I don’t know.

“Nope, they’re fucking boring.” My friend Chipps said when I asked him to comment.

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I guess I always sort of fell in between that woman’s package worship and my buddy’s downright hostility towards the group. Yep, they’ve been around for thirty years and all that, but…well, sometimes I haven’t exactly connected with the program which shouldn‘t be that unusual when one considers the experimental nature of the group. The most interesting aspect of Rush’s fame undeniably has to concern their legion of fans of which I am doggone certain that about 85% of them would pay good money to hear a Geddy Lee bowel movement on vinyl. Luckily for me though, there is enough material on this DVD to satisfy not only the casual fan but also the most ardent Rush enthusiast as well. The deluxe edition of this offering consists of two DVD’s and a two-disc CD copy of the featured concert. The performance DVD chronicles a show from the recent 30th Anniversary Tour that was held at the Festhalle in Frankfort, Germany. The set list here is rather expansive and really the biggest omission here is that of “Closer to the Heart”, but….since that selection shows up on the other disc in the archive section, it doesn’t really turn out to be that big of an issue…well, there is no “Distant Early Warning” here either, I’m assuming because it is available so many other places, but c’mon, it’s impossible to get tired of that song! At this point, I’d really love to spin a wonderful yarn about how the band was all fucked up on shrooms and only wanted to play “Freebird” with a ukulele, but this is Rush that we’re talking about—a group that regardless of one’s opinion of the music has truly set the standard with regard to professionalism in music. When the band began this performance with what has been coined the R30 Overature (nods to “Finding My Way”, “Bastille Day”, “Anthem”, “A Passage To Bangkok“, “Cygnus X-1“ and “Hemispheres”) a concertgoer has to pretty much realize that what follows is going to be an auditory experience played with feeling and rife with attention to detail.

This product basically represents a typical Rush show--they come out, they play the hell out of very technical material, and after two and half hours or so, they leave. End of story. This particular concert is comprised of plenty of classic Rush standards such as “Tom Sawyer”, “Working Man” and “Mystic Rhythms”. Some of the tunes that were played that night did overlap with the material from the previous live DVD that was recorded in Rio and were thus not included here such as “The Trees”, “Secret Touch” and a personal fave “Red Sector A”. Some would doubtlessly prefer that the band had kept these tunes in the mix instead of including renditions of The Who’s “The Seeker”, The Yardbirds “Heart Full of Soul”, Eddie Cochrane’s “Summertime Blues” and Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads”, but the fact is that those were played live primarily in an effort to support Rush’s latest E.P. of covers and…the reality is that they were destined to show up somewhere regardless of how much some fans would rather hear “The Temples of Syrinx” instead of four songs from Feedback which many consider to be relatively disappointing record. Despite the inevitable unrest among such passionate fans regarding the set list, the reality is that R30 is superior to the Rio concert DVD in just about every respect—the mix is better, and visually there is more continuity as the fourteen cameras that were used here seem to have been perfectly utilized in order to create the clear, detailed vision of the show that the viewer sees here. This is true despite the much chronicled one second layering/delay on Lifeson’s “Dreamline” solo but man…you can complain about anything, so…the most essential aspect of this a person needs to remember about this DVD is that it captures a classic Rush show in a format that actually does it justice.

The second disc includes interviews and rarities that are about as cool as the show itself. The conversations with the band are amazing as they truly display the various faces and styles of Rush (literally) as time has passed. The first documented interview on the disc simply spotlights a young Geddy Lee responding to queries next to a makeshift loading ramp at Ivor Wynne Stadium in 1979. The funniest portion of the dialogue comes when Geddy is asked about the reported 1.1 million that Fleetwood Mac had recently spent in the recording studio. Lee’s response?

“You’d have to be pretty bad to spend that much money.”

Another segment features all three members of the group in the studio in 1980 with Geddy sporting the largest glasses I’ve ever seen—they make the late Harry Carrey’s look minute in comparison. I just thank the lord he’s a man because if he weren’t, he’d be the most hideous looking woman since Weezy from the Jeffersons. Aside from that, a viewer will doubtlessly find Neil Peart possessing a most agreeable demeanor—yes, he even smiles and is extremely engaging. Alex doesn’t say too much here, but when he does, he predictably plays the role of the likable clown. The best conversation in this section may very well be the 1990 Artist of the Decade interview which features all three members separately and reveals just how they managed to deal with the adversity they encountered early in their career around the time of the release of Caress of Steel. Peart goes on to characterize 2112 as an “angry” album that was made in about a month at least partially as a response to what was happening to them in their career and their resolve to continue on despite the issues they were having to confront. The induction of Rush into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame comes next and includes a relatively detailed video tribute to the band—the most interesting fact which gets revealed is that the band included a clause in their tour rider that provided for someone to enhance their knowledge of French during the down time experienced between dinner and the show on concert nights…hmm, somehow I don’t see Motley Crue doing that. The last part of the interview portion comes in the form of a 2002 visit with Geddy and Alex around the time of Vapor Trails where both musicians detail very articulately the travails that even an experienced band such as this sometimes has to overcome when trying to resurrect the creative muse and rekindle their relationships. (Note: There are also two Easter Eggs that enhance this section--they are worth finding and instructions are readily available all over the Internet. Hint: Play around with the right button on the DVD player remote--you‘ll find it.)

The Anthem Vault is a veritable grab bag of older material that is sure to impress not only longtime fans but bring back some memories as well. There are some studio performances here such as a 1975 version of “Fly By Night” and a rendition of “Circumstances”. “Finding My Way” and “In The Mood” are included and actually manage to show the band playing as frenetically as they ever did in the early days--the only problem is that the quality of the video is such that these two tracks have to be presented in a window-box format presumably in an effort to preserve some of the resolution. “La Villa Strangiato” is performed in its entirety as are studio performances of “A Farewell To Kings” and “Xanadu”. A fan can also view a minute or so of Rush doing a run through of “The Spirit of Radio” during a 1979 soundcheck. The final two songs consist of a performance of “Freewill” that the band did during a Toronto Rocks/Rolling Stones concert while the last selection comes in the form of a Canadian Tsunami Disaster Fund charity rendition of “Closer To The Heart.” Yes, one of the dudes playing along with the band that you may not recognize is actually a member of the Barenaked Ladies--yeah, yeah, I know he’s Canadian guys, but….what the hell? It’s a great tune anyway.

Alas, after viewing several hours of vintage Rush material, I saw no evidence of any gigantic Lifeson “package”---maybe it‘s an Easter Egg--but then again, I had kind of forgotten about that whole agonizing period of my life sometime during the opening melody of the first performance. That is important to note because part of the beauty of this band is that you can actually manage to get lost in the music of Rush. This Christmas season sees the release of DVD’s by Motley Crue, Judas Priest, Kiss and, of course this band. As much as the performance by Judas Priest that I reviewed a couple of weeks ago was amazing, the one sticking point that makes this collection superior is the extra material and the…uh, packaging--you know what I mean. No, I still stick by my statement about not really needing to get too up close and personal with Halford in order to enjoy the Priest DVD, but it is obvious that Rush went the extra mile for their fans to make this a complete project. The deluxe version of R30 even comes with a couple of collectible guitar picks and replica backstage pass--I know, I know--that alone doesn’t mean much, but when combined with all the interviews and vintage performances, it helps make this DVD a worthy retrospective for thirty years of amazing rock brought to us all by three Canadians who did nothing more than play music on their own terms for the benefit for those who had minds open enough to accept it.

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