SOUNDTRACK: RUSH-Snakes and Arrows Live (2008).
Rush puts out a lot of live CDs. They started out back in the 70s by doing a live record after every four studio records. Then at some point they broke the pattern and just went nuts with the releases. The pro and con of a Rush live CD is that it sounds pretty much exactly the way the studio record does (because they are perfectionists, they duplicate the studio solos exactly). So, why get a live record? because it’s fun to hear them duplicate these sounds live! If that means nothing to you, then you’re probably not a musician. Anyway, their recent live shows have been a lot of fun because they have been really experimenting with their set list, playing some of their more obscure tracks that they haven’t played live in years.
This CD is no exception, and in fact, it may be my favorite live Rush release for three reasons: 1) They play “Entre Nous,” a wonderful song that I’ve never heard live. 2) They play “Natural Science” and “Witch Hunt” back to back…two of my favorite Rush songs ever. 3) They do NOT play “Working Man” or the first album medley that they have been playing for far too long to end their sets. Some other highlights: Neil changed his drum solo! I always thought that the whole point of the “solo,” aside from showing off how much you kick ass at your instrument, was to improvise something fun. Well, Neil Peart has been doing the same drum solo for something like five years. It was a song unto itself at this point. It was the only place I could think of where you’d see people air drumming to a solo, and actually doing it right. So, thankfully, that piece of percussive mayhem has been updated.
Two observations thought: 1) I feel that the sound of the album isn’t very good. It seems rather muddy to me. I’m not sure why exactly, but I expect better production from them. 2) And this is the most shocking observation: the songs are SLOWER than on the record, or on any other live instance. Some songs aren’t that noticeable, but there are several where the tempo is clearly not as speedy. I suppose this makes sense since the fellows aren’t young any more, and I suppose it also allows Geddy to keep his voice from having to reach the super high notes of years ago (his voice sounds great by the way), but for a band that never changes anything, it’s quite a shock!
Incidentally, I also just listened to the Pearl Jam Live at the Gorge CD right after the Rush one and it is amazing how different two bands could be live. There’s not a missed note or a flub or, really, anything unscripted on the Rush set. I don’t think there are any overdubs, but it’s pretty much perfect. Whereas on the Pearl Jam set, they are so casual, so mellow, and clearly having so much fun (not that Rush isn’t having fun, it’s just a different kind of fun). And, of course, there are major screw ups on the Pearl Jam set. The third song is completely flubbed. On “Betterman,” a song they must have played hundreds if not thousands of times, someone, I assume Eddie Vedder hits a terribly wrong note at the end of the soft introduction. And then he mocks himself for not practicing. Very funny, very good natured.
Of the two, I don’t really have a preference, but it’s nice to have the two styles to choose from.
[READ: May 22, 2008] Free Food for Millionaires.
I found out about this book when a patron asked me to put it on hold. It was totally a case of judging a book by its title. And I didn’t know if it was fiction or non-fiction, but I wanted to see what it was about. So, I read the blurb, and it is a novel which follows the life of a young Korean woman as she struggles to make her way in New York City. (more…)