Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour (Rounder Records)
DVD / Blu-Ray / CD
Another Rush album / tour cycle brings about the Holy Triumvirate’s latest live album / concert film release. Is their latest offering any good? Dom Walsh enthuses.
The Clockwork Angels Tour supported the magnificent 2012 album of the same name from the Canadian prog rock titans. Fans of Rush will know how they veer towards the epic in their concerts. They are usually lengthy affairs containing elements of the bizarre. In recent years, Paul Rudd, Jason Seigel and South Park have been involved in the visual aspects of the shows – this time there is even a contribution from Family Guy!
Cameos aside, the music is the real issue here. Ah…the music. Rush are a band that cannot be criticised when it comes to musicianship. The trio of Peart, Lifeson and Lee are beyond accomplished in their respected trades. Throughout the show – and in whichever sound setting you so desire – the band sounds incredible. I challenge anyone to find a trio that packs a bigger punch.
Neil Peart’s drumming is the stuff of legend. Despite a huge kit that seems t0 consume him, his playing – as evidenced by the various solo slots in the set – is perfect and it’s impossible to pick out a highlight.
Part one of the show focuses on much of Rush’s output from the 1980s. Significant stops are made at albums including Signals, Power Windows and Hold Your Fire. Perhaps not three of Rush’s best known LPs, all the material is incredible. The Analog Kid finds Lifeson in scintillating form during one of his many solo spots.
The second half focusses heavily on material from 2012’s Clockwork Angels with nearly all the album played. The band adds an extra dimension with the inclusion of the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble. Of the new material, Carnies is spectacular. As the track reaches its crescendo the trio, strings and pyrotechnics all try to outdo each other in a cacophony of noise. Witnessed in surround sound it will be spectacular. Geddy Lee’s unique vocals and bass playing style are a joy, especially during the Clockwork Angels tracks.
The string ensemble stick around for a majestic run through Red Sector A off their Grace Under Pressure album, and YYZ from the 1981 classic Moving Pictures album. A main set closing salvo of monster hit The Spirit of Radio reveals the devotion of the Rush crowd. A superb encore of Tom Sawyer and 2112 tops off the show perfectly.
The DVD is filmed from a myriad of camera angles with plenty of fan perspectives and self indulgent close ups of solos from all three band members. The cameras situated around the perimeter of the arena highlight the show’s vastness. The DVD also comes with plenty of extras including a tour documentary, behind the scenes material, outtakes, interviews and several bonus tracks, including the superb Middletown Dreams from Power Windows. There are also the standard sound options with 2.0 and 5.1 sound. The main show is a little over three hours with the special features adding plenty more viewing pleasure.
I imagine a new live album/ DVD won’t convert people into Rush fans but if you want to sample the band for the first time, you can’t go far wrong here. I can also see this little gem of a package being opened on 25th December by many an adoring rock fan. Class simply cannot be ignored.
Rush’s website is here