R40 Live, Rush’s 10th live album is so named to celebrate their 40th anniversary with drummer Neil Peart in the band. They have actually been in existence since 1968, formed by current guitarist Alex Lifeson with bassist Geddy Lee joining a few weeks later before their second gig.
This 3xCD format (there are CD and DVD editions) released via Universal Music Group comes from 2 hometown shows at the Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada on June 17th and 19th 2015, with a colossal running time of almost 3 and a half hours. Most bands only play for half of this duration. CD 1 features the first set, CD2 the second set and CD3 the encores plus bonus tracks. With a RRP of only £24.99 it certainly is value for money. It is the second live album from Toronto, the first being Exit…..Stage Left from Massey Hall released in 1981.
Consisting of 31 tracks, highlights are many with the set kicking off with ‘The Anarchist’ and ‘Headlong Flight’ from current studio album Clockwork Angels. The second track highlights the urgency of Neil’s drumming, pushing the song forward to a mini drum solo and guitar solo midway. ‘Roll The Bones’ is a synth heavy classic from the studio album of the same name. The first visit to the 1982 album Signals sees a spine tingling run through of the violin lead ‘Losing It’. This is the first time it has been played live with Ben Mink recreating his studio performance.
CD 2 and the big hitters forge their way in. ‘Tom Sawyer’ brings forth the biggest cheers from the audience so far as Alex’s solo cuts through like a diamond. Frenetic run throughs of ‘YYZ’ and ‘Spirit Of The Radio’ raise the bar even higher followed by a brooding ‘Natural Science’ and a thundering ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ from their commercially acclaimed 1980/81 releases Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures. A 4 minute teaser of the 1978 Hemispheres from the album of the same name precedes another vintage classic, parts I and III of ‘Cygnus X-I The Story So Far’ from the 1977 A Farewell To Kings, the definitive example of a power trio!
From the same album then comes the gentile ‘Closer To The Heart’ and a complete roller coaster ride run through of ‘Xanadu’. How could they possibly follow this? The answer is by a truncated but nonetheless fist clenching ‘2112’, title track from that 1976 album containing the chilling ending of the song. The end of the set looms with Rush going even further into their history with the bouncy ‘Lakeside Park’ from the 1976 Caress Of Steel and a riff heavy ‘Anthem’ , title track from that 1975 album. Set 2 ends with super heavy takes on ‘What You’re Doing’ and ‘Working Man’ from their 1974 self titled debut.
CD3, featuring the encores and bonus tracks kicks into life for me with another gem from Moving Pictures, the timeless ‘Red Barchetta’ containing a clubbing instrumental mid section. Penultimate track and my personal highlight is ‘The Camera Eye’ from the same album. This 11 minute opus ticks all the boxes and after all these years the keyboard parts still remind me of ‘Glass Of Champagne’ by 70’s band Sailor! The one and only time I’ve seen Rush was on the Moving Pictures tour and when I hear this track I remember the expectancy of waiting for Alex’s guitar solo and it still has the same affect on me to this day. I’ve not played a lot of the mid 80’s/90’s material for quite sometime so this review has been like meeting up with an old friend.
The R40 tour has now come to a close with the possibility of it being their last major one due to the physical exertions for Alex and Neil but if this is their final live release then they will have left a fitting legacy.
Rush band line up :-
Geddy Lee – Vocals/bass guitar/keyboards.
Neil Peart – Drums/percussion.
Alex Lifeson – Guitars.
R40 live track listing :-
The Main Monkey Business.
How It Is.
Roll The Bones.
Between The Wheels.
Spirit Of The Radio.
Cygnus X-I / The Story So Far parts I and III.
Closer To The Heart.
2112 parts I, II. IV and VII.
What You’re Doing/Working Man.
One Little Victory.
Distant Early Warning.
The Camera Eye.