The view of these middle-aged ex-rockers on the last stop of their world tour begs the question of visuals in music - why a DVD? Why not just an album? The DVD should probably sink, to preserve their reputation. They still make the old musical magic, but they are not a pretty sight. When they are prancing around on stage - more gingerly than when at the height of their fame - you catch your breath, "He's going to break something..." The movement at the start of Big Money is embarrassing. The back projection is mostly either incompetent or irrelevant; what message do these washing machines on stage give other than this group is washed up!? Close your eyes! The sound is intact.
The sound is intact, but the judgement is perhaps impaired. This concert has a very slow start, and there is little effort to package it (à la Robbie Williams); even the audience seems less than adoring, and for a time I thought perhaps it was composed of Rio's street children brought in to fill the by-no-means large amphitheatre. This view was happily dispelled later on, especially during YYZ when the crowd really comes alive. And again, quite spontaneously, during Bravado: what a great lead-in!
But at the outset, Tom Sawyer, Distant Early Warning, New World Man, Roll The Bones - I thought, when are they going to turn up the heat? And then comes Earthshine. The heat is on; the brow needs mopping. Perhaps the DVD is justified after all.
Twenty years ago this was radical, this was head-banging. Passengers in my car looked at me in a different light when I played it. It's all pretty tame now, but it is music, unlike so much else noise passing for music nowadays - some of Rush's output may seem sadly repetitive, but at least it did not induce cranial anaesthesia. This is a legitimate offspring of rock 'n' roll, and at their best Rush remain engaging, entrancing, mesmerising.
Neil Peart has the biggest drumkit of all time - he must have chartered a jumbo to carry it. And he uses it to good effect. Alex Lifeson's guitar solo in Big Money is in the to-die-for category. This DVD really builds. So, one's initial reaction needs to be amplified.
The second disk is the usual: mostly docu-stuff.