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Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour(2013)
No synopsis for Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour.
For more about Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour and the Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour Blu-ray release, see Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on December 20, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Geddy Lee
» See full cast & crew
Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, December 20, 2013
Will the legions of Rush fans ever forgive me if I state that the band has always had a bit of a "retro" feel to me? This is not to minimize the band's contributions, which are notable, nor to indicate they're stuck in some kind of time warp, but only to acknowledge the fact that every band is really a product of its time, and for me, anyway, Rush's prog-rock sensibilities definitely date the band to the seventies and eighties. Maybe that's why their recent emphasis on clocks seems to relevant. Their Clockwork Angels tour was a huge enterprise which took up the better part of a year and enjoyed immense success with fans, who gifted Geddy and the boys with a string of sold out performances. Rush, however "retro" they may or may not be, have always been at the forefront of high definition, with a slew of Blu-ray releases to their credit, and fans were understandably very excited when it was announced that the Clockwork Angels Tour was going to be captured in HD and released on Blu-ray. There's been a bit of griping since the release, however, with some alleging deficient video and audio. One of those complaints I'd chalk up more to style than to actual issues, but another may warrant a bit of deserved whining and moaning.
Whatever one thinks about how contemporary Rush is musically, there's little doubt that the stagecraft here evokes a kind of Brazil-esque mash up of high tech and old fashioned designs. That's obvious in things like the props (including some of the instruments) that accompany the Clockwork Angels tour, as well as the videos that play out during the show (two of which are included as supplements on the Blu-ray).
The music on the other hand is some of Rush's most hard hitting and vigorous in some time, with an onslaught of massed low end and driving rhythms that belie the fact that Geddy turned sixty this year. One thing that has evidently thrown some long time Rush fans for a loop is the addition of a string ensemble on several tunes. This frankly strikes me as a little odd, but, then again, my teenage sons remind me regularly that I have bypassed "retro" myself now and entered the ranks of "geezerhood". But I well remember recording artists from when I was growing up who would release their first few albums with stripped down band sounds, and only upon reaching a certain level of success would branch out with more orchestrated efforts. There's really nothing similar happening here, for let's face it—Rush has been successful for a long time. And so this was obviously a purely artistic decision on the part of the band, and to my ears, it works wonderfully. The string parts are well written, and the string ensemble itself adds a certain luster to the proceedings, augmenting the already sometimes heady instrumentation of the band itself.
This is a mostly high energy outing that concentrates on newer material, which may or may not be to every Rush fan's liking. But there's no denying the excellent stagecraft that's on display here, and it goes without saying that the band plays with a lot of excitement and finesse.
The long concert setlist(s) include:
2. The Big Money
3. Force Ten
4. Grand Designs
5. The Body Electric
7. The Analog Kid
9. Where's My Thing?/Here It Is! (drum solo)
10. Far Cry
Set Two (songs with * feature the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble)
2. Clockwork Angels*
3. The Anarchist*
5. The Wreckers*
6. Headlong Flight*/Drumbastica (drum solo)
7. Peke's Repose (guitar solo)/Halo Effect*
8. Seven Cities of Gold*
9. Wish Them Well*
10. The Garden*
12. The Percussor
13. (I) Binary Love Theme
14. (II) Steambanger's Ball (drum solo)
15. Red Sector A*
17. The Spirit of Radio
1. Tom Sawyer
1. Limelight (soundcheck recording)
2. Middletown Dreams
3. The Pass
4. Manhattan Project*
Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour Blu-ray, Video Quality
Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Zoë Records with an AVC encoded 1080i transfer in 1.78:1. There has been quite a bit of chatter on the internet about supposedly substandard video quality here, but I think it's wise to separate the complaints into two categories. There are certain filming and editing anomalies here that many lovers of live concert videos will already be well aware of, namely sloppy focusing, weird shots that seem to almost intentionally veer away from whoever's playing, and the sometimes maddening tendency to chop up the proceedings with quick edits. These obviously have nothing to do with the transfer itself. On that score, I'd actually give this outing well above average marks, with the understanding that there are a number of bugaboos, again many of which lovers of live concert videos will have seen on many other Blu-rays. There are some combing artifacts on display as well as occasional spiking noise in some of the darker scenes, but for me the biggest issue here is some inconsistent contrast as well as the seemingly unavoidable posterization when bright (usually blue or purple) lights bathe the stage (you can see just a tinge of this phenomenon in the second screenshot).
Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Okay, so whose bright decision was it to have Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour default to the Dolby Digital 2.0 track? That may have been unintentional, but some may actually want to opt for that track, for one of the things that typically lures audiophiles to a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 option—namely, the more forceful low end—is almost out of control on this Blu-ray, to the point that mid- and upper ranges are frequently just kind of a dim background to the really overpowering lower frequencies. I almost thought this was simply a momentary issue with the huge set piece that opens the concert, with its floor rattling LFE and screeching gears (you'll understand when you see the video), but unfortunately it continues into the concert itself, with the biggest casualty being that Geddy quite simply can't be heard some of the time. This may simply be a mixing issue, for from a pure fidelity standpoint, there's no distortion and nothing that sounds out of place. But many Rush fans will probably be disappointed with this state of affairs—even those who regularly champion forceful low ends. I'm frankly a little conflicted about how to score this track, for from a purely technical standpoint, it doesn't sound like anything's actually wrong with it. From a mix standpoint, the same can't really be said. Therefore, you might think about adding or subtracting a quarter to a half point depending on how you feel about bottom heavy mixes.
Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour is a typically highly enjoyable Rush concert, with some great "extracurricular" elements added into a high energy (and long) concert performance. My personal opinion is that at least some of the complaints about the video quality here are misaimed at what really should be directed at the director and editor. But the audio mix here is kind of baffling to me, and I'm at a loss to explain why Rush would want things so bottom heavy that a lot of higher register sounds (and let's face it, Geddy can be extremely high register) are buried. My overall recommendation here is caveat emptor—if you can find a copy to watch and listen to before purchasing, that may be the best course of action, for some fans evidently aren't bothered by the mix at all, while others are saying it's the worst sounding Blu-ray in their collection. The supplements are really phenomenal, though, including a great documentary on the tour.
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