Rush R40 Live album artwork

Album Review: Rush – R40 Live CD

Rush is never going to get a #1 album as long as they continue to release a much anticipated new album the same day someone else, who has a wider fan base, releases theirs.

R40 Live has ZERO chance of going #1 against Adele’s new album and it is pretty rare for a live album to top the charts but this album proves what everyone who attended the sold out shows during the summer discovered – Rush has way too much left to call it a career.

Released on its own or as a combo with the video version on DVD or Blu-Ray Rush R40 Live captures the full essence of the band’s sold-out live performance this summer and fully rectifies the abysmal Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland that featured a less than stellar vocal performance by singer Geddy Lee. Though it should be noted the DVD of that tour proved otherwise.


Rush R40 Live Album Review

Filmed and recorded during the two night stand in Toronto, Canada, R40 Live in fact should put an end to any debate about Lee’s vocal range and his ability to sing Rush songs into his 60s. It’s a near masterful performance considering his age, years of singing and the altitudes he reaches on those early tracts that come after two hours of singing. Lee reportedly practiced for months getting to a vocal range that compliments what he left behind after the 1970s.

Of course he doesn’t reach the falsetto of those early records, he probably couldn’t 20 years ago, and even if you’re not a fan of those years because of his vocals, the polished performance he produced cannot be denied.

R40 Live showcases the widest catalog of Rush material ever recorded and does a solid job of providing a souvenir for those who caught a show and giving those who didn’t a glimpse into what they missed. The performances are nearly flawless on every level. The recording sounds unprocessed and is an accurate reflection of what came out of the amps those two nights.

The live album starts off with “The Anarchist” and while it doesn’t show-off Lee’s coming vocal performance (a bit garbled at times) it does feature his hard-thumping bass guitar which often takes the limelight throughout the entirety of the album. The band stuck in the emotional “How It Is” on Disc One as the primary offering from Vapor Trails even though “One Little Victory” routinely got the nod during the tour. That song got placed on Disc Three.

R40 Live follows the concert setlist starting with newer songs off 2012’s Clockwork Angels and tracking back in time to 1974 finishing with “What You’re Doing” and “Working Man” off the band’s self-titled debut album. Rush also played on the tour this album commemorates, for the first time live, “Losing It” off Signals and brought Ben Mink the original electric violinist from the album. His performance is featured on the opening disc and the performance by Jonathan Dinklage who played with the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble on the 2013 tour is on Disc Three.

There’s little sense in going through the album song-by-song but the standouts include “Headlong Flight,” “Losing It,” “The Camera Eye” and all the tracts from the 1970s. Guitarist Alex Lifeson’s blistering solo on “Working Man” roars to life despite not “being there.” And no your ears don’t deceive you, drummer Neil Peart’s traditional solo is present and accounted for but it’s no longer the eight minute marathon, instead coming midway through “Headlong Flight” and a longer second solo on “Cygnus X-1.”

The version sold at Best Buy comes with a Rush R40 pocket flashlight, otherwise save a few bucks on Amazon or get a package deal through the Backstage Club that comes with one of the tour shirts.

Grade: A-

Rush R40 Live CD Disc 1 Setlist:

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

Rush R40 Live CD Disc 2 Setlist:

  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 (drum solo)
  8. Closer to the Heart
  9. Xanadu
  10. 2112

Rush R40 Live CD Disc 3:

  1. Lakeside Park/Anthem
  2. What You’re Doing/Working ManOne Little Victory
  3. Distant Early Warning
  4. Red Barchetta
  5. Clockwork Angels
  6. The Wreckers
  7. The Camera Eye
  8. Losing It (with Jonathan Dinklage)

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