Artist/ Band: Rush
Title: Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland (DVD)
Label: Anthem Entertainment
Year of Release: 2011
Offical Artist/ Band Link

The Review:

Within the last decade there has been no shortage of full-length concert DVDs from Canadian progressive rock supergroup Rush. There was "Rush in Rio" in 2003, "R30" in 2005, and "Snakes & Arrows Live" in 2008, as well as 2011's feature-length documentary, "Beyond the Lighted Stage", produced by filmmakers/Rush fans Sam Dunn & Scott McFadyen and their company Banger Productions (VH-1 Classics' Metal Evolution, "Iron Maiden: Flight 666", "Metal: A Headbangers Journey".) It's a testament to Dunn & McFadyen's camaraderie with the band that when the time came to document this 2011 performance at the Quickens Loans Arena in Cleveland Ohio, the job went to them. It's a good thing, too. While I've been impressed in varying degrees with all of the aforementioned concert DVDs ("Snakes and Arrows Live", in particular) I must say that this new DVD seems to be better filmed, with more of an eye towards detail. From close-up views of Alex Lifeson's guitar techniques, to Neil Peart's feet stomping out a particularly tricky bass pedal rhythm, to all the set pieces, visual jokes and video screen presentations - it's pretty obvious that this was produced by people who know and love the music.

Now, for a band with so many live DVDs on the market, does "Time Machine" offer anything that Rush fans haven't seen and heard before? For those who care about Rush beyond just their 'greatest hits', the answer is definitely yes. One thing that makes Rush's live shows superior to many other bands still surviving from the 70s and 80s is that Rush actually shakes-up their set-list a bit from tour to tour. Of course they don't (and shouldn't) leave out their most well-known FM radio staples (Spirit of Radio, Tom Sawyer, Closer To the Heart, Working Man), but for this tour they even went a step further, including a complete performance of their most popular album, 1980's "Moving Pictures". For fans of that particular album, the performances and visual presentation of these classic tracks are all top-notch and alone worth the price of the DVD - particularly the showstopping rendition of "The Camera Eye", which easily surpasses the power of the studio version. But, believe it or not, the 'hits' only makes up about half of this 3 hour show. For me, and I suspect a lot of other Rush fans, the real treat with these marathon concert DVDs is hearing some of the newer material live, and finding out which lesser-known album tracks from the past will get dusted-off for rediscovery. Keeping with the "Time Machine" theme, the set-list is cobbled-together from all of the band's various eras or "phases". "2112 Overture/Temples of Syrinx" and "La Villa Strangiato" represent a taste of the 70's 'concept album' period, which no doubt ushered many-a-proghead onto the Rush bandwagon. The 80s 'synthesizer' period is nicely-represented here by "Time Stand Still", "Marathon" (a personal favorite of mine) and powerful "Subdivisions", which serves as an emotional climax to the opening set. The title track from 1989's "Presto" is an unexpected (but very welcome) inclusion, providing a subdued contrast to the show's heavier moments. From 1993's "Counterparts" we get the tasty instrumental workout "Leave That Thing Alone", featuring some wonderfully nimble-fingered bass work from Geddy Lee, as well as a raucous rendition of "Stick It Out" which rates as one of my favorite performances on the entire DVD. 2007's "Snakes & Arrows" is represented by a trio of tracks, ""Workin' Them Angels", "Far Cry", & "Faithless". All of them come across excellent in the live setting, but "Faithless" is a particular treat as it's wasn't included on the DVD of the "Snakes & Arrows" tour. There are also two nods to the future with "BU2B" and "Caravan", previews from the band's next album "Clockwork Angels", due in 2012. Both tracks are incrediblely gripping live, and are full to the brim with monster heavy riffs and dark atmosphere - proving that Rush's post-70's output has not always as "soft" as some of the band's critics like to claim.

While much could be said about the huge stage production found here (with video screens, explosions, towers of flames, comedic film skits, and even a guy in a chicken suit), the real 'show' comes from the three musicians themselves. Their on-stage energy, whether clowning around or intensely absorbed in a musical moment, is palpable and a true joy to behold. At a time when many other vintage bands only seem to tolerate each other for the sake of money, it's obvious that Lee, Peart and Lifeson are still friends with a lot of mutual respect for one another.

From a technical standpoint, their are two sound-mixes to choose from - 2.1 Stereo or DTS. I don't have a DTS system, so can't comment on that version, but the ordinary stereo mix sounds quite full and dynamic, whether using headphones or speakers. However, I must sat that the previous DVD, "Snakes and Arrows Live", had a clearer 'separation' effect when listened to with headphones - at least to my ears.

All in all, this DVD should not be missed by anyone who calls themselves a Rush fan, and it certainly whets the appetite for the new album, coming later this year.

Reviewed by Jeff Matheus on March 9th, 2012

Tracks:

Set One

  • The 'Real' History of Rush Episode No. 2 "Don't Be Rash"
  • The Spirit of Radio
  • Time Stand Still
  • Presto
  • Stick It Out
  • Workin' Them Angels
  • Leave That Thing Alone
  • Faithless
  • BU2B
  • Free Will
  • Marathon
  • Subdivisions

    Set Two

  • The 'Real'' History of Rush Episode No. 17 "...and Rock and Roll is my name."* Tom Sawyer
  • Red Barchetta
  • YYZ
  • Limelight
  • The Camera Eye
  • Witch Hunt
  • Vital Signs
  • Caravan
  • Moto Perpetuo (featuring Love For Sale)
  • O'Malley's Break
  • Closer To The Heart
  • 2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx
  • Far Cry
  • Encore* La Villa Strangiato
  • Working Man

    Bonus Material
  • Outtakes from "History of Rush, Episode 2 & 17"
  • "Tom Sawyer" featuring the cast of "History of Rush, Episode 17"
  • "Need Some Love" Live from Laura Secord Secondary School
  • "Anthem" Live from Passaic New Jersey

Reviewed Discography

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