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Rush R40 Live CD & DVD Review

Release Date: Out Now

Format: CD+DVD, Live, Box set

Label: Commercial Marketing

Track Listings
Disc: 1
1. The World Is… The World Is
2. The Anarchist
3. Headlong Flight
4. Far Cry
5. The Main Monkey Business
6. How It Is
7. Animate
8. Roll the Bones
9. Between the Wheels
10. Losing It (Feat. Ben Mink)
11. Subdivisions

Disc: 2
1. Tom Sawyer
2. YYZ
3. The Spirit of Radio
4. Natural Science
5. Jacob’s Ladder
6. Hemispheres: Prelude
7. Cygnus X-1/The Story So Far
8. Closer to the Heart
9. Xanadu
10. 2112

Disc: 3
1. Mel’s Rockpile (Feat. Eugene Levy)
2. Lakeside Park/Anthem
3. What You’re Doing/Working Man

Bonus Tracks
1. One Little Victory
2. Distant Early Warning
3. Red Barchetta
4. Clockwork Angels
5. The Wreckers
6. The Camera Eye
7. Losing It (Feat. Jonathan Dinklage)

Disc: 4

DVD SET 1

1. The World Is… The World Is
2. The Anarchist
3. Headlong Flight
4. Far Cry
5. The Main Monkey Business
6. How It Is
7. Animate
8. Roll the Bones
9. Between the Wheels
10. Losing It (Feat. Ben Mink)
11. Subdivisions

DVD SET 2

12. No Country for Old Hens

13. Tom Sawyer
14. YYZ
15. The Spirit of Radio
16. Natural Science
17. Jacob’s Ladder
18. Hemispheres: Prelude
19. Cygnus X-1/The Story So Far
20. Closer to the Heart
21. Xanadu
22. 2112

Encore:
23. Mel’s Rockpile (Feat. Eugene Levy)
24. Lakeside Park/Anthem
25. What You’re Doing/Working Man – EXIT STAGE LEFT

Bonus Tracks
1. One Little Victory
2. Distant Early Warning
3. Red Barchetta

Recorded at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto as part of their 40-year anniversary tour, this well packed 4 disc set contains 3 CDs and 1 DVD showcasing the slick, tight, polished progressive rock machine that is Rush.

Not many bands have a career spanning 40 years and for those that do, selecting a set list that can do it justice is difficult. Thankfully, Rush are never short of time and energy during their shows with the average clocking in at around the three hour mark. As such, over 30 tracks across the 3 CDs are present with the DVD picking up most of those including the excellent encore.

With a 40 year career however, time and age can of course take its toll. The energy and desire can ebb, the voices can go and the musicians can feel like they’ve done it so many times that the performance is ‘lacking’. For those reading this that may have that fear, the good news is that Rush still give it their all, with the only notable cracking of Geddy Lee’s voice being on ‘Closer to the Heart’ and ‘Lakeside Park’.

As we watch the show, the songs from the band’s expansive career are played in reverse chronological order whilst the set behind them is slowly broken down, track by track, to represent their ‘back to the roots’ concept. It’s a neat touch that leaves the viewer getting a sense of what it was like for the band at the beginning with minimal stage sets and simply three musicians and a desire to really make it in the business.

The Anarchist‘ and ‘Headlong Flight‘ open the show utilising the amazing lighting rig used on the Clockwork Angels tour. From that point one the stage set then slowly changes to reflect the era and albums of the songs being performed. It’s a concept few other bands of Rush’s size would entertain (although not many would manage such a decades spanning career) with the focus always being on bigger, better, brighter. This however is a really neat idea and allows the viewer to step back in time with the band to see replicas of the stage sets they used during the 90s, 80s and 70s.

By the time the band reach the final encore songs of ‘What You’re Doing’ / ‘Working Man,’ the stage and video screen have been paired down to depict a high school gym hall with a mirror ball and a couple of amps and speakers balanced on chairs, just as it was when Rush started out in 1974.

Highlights for me were the mid-career, 80s tracks as that was when Rush were a notable name for me in Kerrang! On a regular basis. ‘Losing It‘ a track that’s never been played live before, from the Signals album, features Canadian musician Ben Mink on violin and makes for one of the most “I wish I’d been there to see it live” moments.

Of course, the die-hard fans (and it’s a safe bet a few of them were there in Toronto) want to hear the early works, the tracks that brought Rush to the music world’s attention in the 1970s. Rush do not disappoint with the track listing, playing ‘Jacob’s Ladder‘ and a medley including snippets of  ‘Cygnus Book II : Prelude‘ and ‘Cygnus Book I : Prologue‘. ‘Xanadu’ sees the double neck guitars making an appearance (perhaps for the last time if the rumours are true about Rush never touring again). The 70s of course showcased Geddy Lee’s voice at its strongest and returning to that era does as noted above see him struggling occasionally but it’s good enough to elicit a great response from the crowd and if this is it for Rush then they go out on a high at least.

As a fan, should you buy it? After all, there is a wealth of live material out there from Rush that we could compare R40 to. The consensus from colleagues is that R40 has much better sound than Clockwork Angels and a varied set list that works really well. Geddy’s voice is better than Time Machine but not as strong as it was on R30. However given R30 was (of course) ten years earlier, then allowances have to be made.

It took long enough and a hell of a lot of fan pressure to get them inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but this release proves why the wait was worth it. Steller stuff.

As a fan, you should add this to your collection not only on the strength of the performance from all three members but also for the fact that this could be it. It may be the last major tour show recorded and to see it in the band’s home city is indeed special. Rush claim that they haven’t officially retired, so who knows what will come next. If this is the end, then R40 Live is a perfect book end for an amazing band.

Written by: Adrian Hextall

Rating: Adrian 8/10

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