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This review is from: Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Well, anyone expecting anything less than a reference quality concert disc is looking in the wrong place, but it's not likely any Rush fans meet that criteria anyway. After a considerable wait the Canadian trio's latest disc is finally here and, as with every other year one of these audio-visual delights drops, it's the music highlight of the year, hands down. I can't speak for those complaining about its video quality, but as a fairly vigilant fan of HD video I wasn't left wanting.
Time Machine shares a little in common with 2005's R30 disc, as it wasn't released in support of an album but rather to mark another anniversary, this time the 30th of the seminal Moving Pictures, performed here in its entirety. As such the selection of tracks is considerably more varied that that of the rest of their video catalogue which often featured a focus on a particular record, most notably 2008's Snakes And Arrows Live set which saw a great many of that album's tracks performed live. Time Machine's setlist features the usual bulk of interchangeable concert favourites (not least of all the complete Moving Pictures, of whose seven tracks at least three are staples of every single Rush show with another three making very regular appearances on every second tour or so) but eight of its 25 songs make their home video debut. Most welcome amongst these are "Stick It Out", a particularly heavy number from the Counterparts album, a great rendition of Snakes And Arrows' "Faithless" and the pair of singles released by the band last year, "Caravan" and "BU2B". It is on these tracks and on Moving Pictures' "The Camera Eye" (long ignored and long demanded, finally presented live to be picked apart by rabid fans of the ten-minute opus) that Rush can be seen enjoying themselves the most, and even some of the group's less classic songs ("Presto", "Time Stand Still") are elevated to something beyond the original studio recordings thanks to the energy of this particular show. This is quite understandable, particularly in "Caravan"'s case, as it is in my opinion the best song they've recorded in at least twenty years. How a band of such age can keep topping themselves year after year is beyond me, but really it just warms me, it honestly does. This is the most they've enjoyed themselves on disc to date and it shows.
Part of this can be attributed to the Cleveland audience, packing out the Quicken Loans in Ohio for the first arena show from Rush since A Show Of Hands and the biggest since Rush In Rio back in '03. The larger crowd is notably game for the show and the editing reflects it: Time Machine, more than any of their previous releases, feels like a great big party. Credit must go to Banger Films, who have come quite a ways from the regrettably lightweight Metal: A Headbanger's Journey and provided two exemplary Rush releases in as many years after last year's documentary Beyond The Lighted Stage. The audience on the last two DVD shows were quite reserved (as is European custom, apparently) and were rarely if at all glimpsed in the edit, but here there are plenty of non-distracting shots of people just really enjoying themselves. Three things present themselves thanks to this approach. Firstly, there is a clear address of the commonly-held notion that Rush are a `guy band'- plenty of ladies having a great time here and it's worth finally showing. Secondly, though some may balk at the decision to focus on rapturous fans air-drumming during THOSE fills in "Tom Sawyer", I see it as a cementing of Rush's ever-evolving iconic status in modern pop culture, and welcomed it as much as I half-expected it.
Thirdly, it captures the overall energy and fun of seeing a live show better than any disc I've seen in years, and deserves recommendation on this basis alone.
As for the blu-ray specifics, the sound mix is beyond criticism. Vocals, drums, bass, guitar and keys are all afforded room in the mix to breathe and sound suitably live, and the added prominence of the audience (mainly absent from previous releases) adds to that party sensation I mentioned earlier. The HD transfer is the best place to check out the dials on the joints of Neil's cymbal stands or the working sausage machine that manages to distract every time Geddy's in closeup, not to mention highlighting some occasionally impressive photography. As I said in my opening, the disc is reference quality and at least as good as all previous concert discs from the band. The packaging is the same as the Snakes And Arrows Live disc, in a blu-ray sized card digipak with an eight-page insert detailing the tour crew. Sadly there's no additional artwork or replica tourbook.
You can also expect a great new solo from Neil (which seems to at last have broken free of the improvisation-around-a-structure piece he's been doing since at least the mid 1990s) and the now-customary comedy skits in-between sets, which have now been extended to about six minutes apiece and see the band mugging in various outfits and accents and are honestly entertaining without seeming self-indulgent or misguided. Extras include outtakes from these sessions and a pair of old clips, one of which is from the same high school performance that a few of Beyond The Lighted Stage's extras were taken from (with John Rutsey on drums and another of "Anthem" in black and white from the mid-1970s whose audio (in contrast to its shocking video) rivals the album track for quality. Sadly, that's it this time around, though I do feel the inclusion of these tracks goes some way to really highlighting how far Rush has come along, packing out an arena full of genuinely adoring fans just a couple decades after packing out a school gymnasium with some curious onlookers.
Like you need me to tell you again that you ought to own this if you like Rush, good concert videos or good music and a good time. Buy it.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Nov 2011 21:32:10 GMT
G. MOON says:
Excellent review, couldn't understand the negative comments about blu-ray quality either. Some reviewers need to clean their screens or glasses me thinks! Roll on clockwork angels!!
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2011 10:22:42 GMT
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2011 12:10:21 GMT
Last edited by the author on 10 Nov 2011 15:15:57 GMT
Magnum Valentino says:
What am I obviously not, Gary? What's obvious?
Am I not someone who enjoys writing reviews for Amazon in his spare time? Am I not someone who has every right to write at length and self-indulge just as you have every right to not read it and indulge your own penchant for being a cretin with a minuscule attention span?
Were you bored? Ach, I'm sorry I couldn't sum it all up for you in something you could digest in a couple seconds while you raced onward towards your next internet endeavour. At least I'm not justifying paragraph-long reviews on the basis I was at the concerts in question.
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