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Rush: Time Machine, Live in Cleveland(2011)
Rush's Time Machine shows in 2010 / 2011 were one of the most anticipated tours ever. Celebrating 30 years since the 1981 release of their classic bestselling album Moving Pictures the band performed the entire album live for the first time as the centrepiece of the concerts. The shows also featured favourite tracks from across their lengthy career and two new songs expected to feature on their next studio album.
For more about Rush: Time Machine, Live in Cleveland and the Rush: Time Machine, Live in Cleveland Blu-ray release, see Rush: Time Machine, Live in Cleveland Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on April 9, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson
» See full cast & crew
Rush: Time Machine, Live in Cleveland Blu-ray Review
Time stand still? No way!
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, April 9, 2012
Most pop and rock stars and/or bands have a shelf life of maybe three or four years. Public tastes are notoriously fickle and today's Top 10 superstar is tomorrow's "whatever happened to?" special on MTV. There are exceptions, of course, and with the advent of, yes, MTV and other 24 hours a day entertainment offerings that require "product", the chances for pushing that temporal boundary of fame outward a year or two—or even a decade or two—has increased exponentially. Rush is a band who has managed to stay afloat in the treacherous waters of rock for more than forty years now (if one considers their nascent pre-recording time together), certainly a rather incredible feat under any circumstances. The band has managed to maintain incredible popularity by utilizing some time honored techniques, like regular touring, interspersed with some more forward thinking ones—like Blu-ray releases of both documentaries (Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage) and albums (Rush: Moving Pictures). In fact Rush seems to be as popular, if not more so, than ever, with huge buzz surrounding not just the audio Blu-ray release last year of what could arguably be described as their most defining album, but with their hugely anticipated 2010 – 2011 World Tour where they would be performing Moving Pictures live in its entirety, augmented by a number of other tunes (as well as some fun video additions). Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland is a fitting document of that tour, filmed in the city that first helped catapult the band to mainstream success when a local DJ starting spinning their sides. If the incremental effects of the ravages of time may be starting to show, especially with regard to Geddy Lee's "freakishly high" voice, the band is still in incredibly fine form, proving that they have energy and humor to spare.
That self-deprecating humor is abundantly on display in the completely outré vignette that serves as a prelude to the main concert, where Geddy plays an ultra-Jewish café owner who has a customer with a sort of time machine contraption called a GeFilter (the bit is rife with Yiddish puns). A polka band in the background gets put through various stylistic portals courtesy of the GeFilter, playing everything from disco to country, with the hilarious critical appraisal that "sometimes people like crap". Ultimately that segues fairly seamlessly into the main concert portion, which sees a throng of several thousand screaming Rush fans greeting their rock heroes with boisterous shouts of approval.
The "time machine" motif is obviously front and center throughout this concert, with the upstage screen repeatedly showing whirling, twirling dials (how retro!) which indicate various years as Rush tears through a first set made up of songs from various eras of their long and storied career. The first set is made even more visceral than is usual with these live concert outings through the excellent coverage afforded by directors Sam Dunn and Scot MacFadyen (who also did Beyond the Lighted Stage). What seems to be a huge battery of cameras grants an incredible variety of perspectives, from the last row of the highest part of the stadium seating to a literal bird's eye view looking down on drummer Neil Peart (notice the cool gear designs on Peart's cymbals which echo the cogs of the time machine).
Another brief, frankly much less funny, featurette starts off the second half of the concert, this time with various people repeatedly pushing the machine's activation button which repeatedly morphs the band members into various times and ages, from babies to futuristic wizards. Getty gets to parody high-falutin' British video directors here, though, replete with really bad teeth.
The second set is probably what will lure most longtime Rush fanatics, namely the chance to see the band recreate the iconic Moving Pictures album live and in concert. The news is somewhat mixed, though aficionados probably won't much care, as the excitement generated by simply being able to experience the event outweighs any niggling qualms that may be in attendance. Geddy just sounds a little hoarse by the time this set rolls out, which means his vocals are a good deal raspier than some will remember from the album version. And while the guys do an outstanding job of recreating the album, the simple fact is after the largely stunning (mostly) audio Blu-ray release of Moving Pictures last year, there are little details that simply either aren't played or are buried in this live concert mix. To be clear, though, these are minor quibbles with what is otherwise a really exciting, winning performance.
Moving Pictures isn't the whole story of the second set, as a quick review of the set list below will show. But it's probably the highlight of this entire concert, which has the band sounding really fantastic, with great detail and nuance in the playing (I personally don't think Peart has ever sounded better, and it's great to be able to see him attack his battery of percussion instruments). If Geddy sounds just a tad worse for the wear at some moments throughout the concert, he plays incredibly well and brings a visceral intensity to this concert that the audience in attendance certainly feels, something that home theater viewers should have a palpable experience of as well.
The disc's contents consist of:
Episode No. 2 "Don't Be Rash"
Episode No. 17 ". . .and Rock and Roll is My Name"
Rush: Time Machine, Live in Cleveland Blu-ray, Video Quality
Rush: Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Zoe Records with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. For once some of the regular bugaboos that hamper live concert high definition presentations are in scant attendance, with posterizing and banding kept to a minimum. While both of these situations do crop up from time to time, most videophiles will probably be bothered only by the more noticeable banding, which once again flares noticeably whenever a camera is aimed squarely at a battery of lights. The stage area here is better lit than is usually the case in these live concerts, which results in a much clearer, sharper image, including some impressive fine detail in close-ups and even midrange shots. Even some of the far range shots posit very good fine detail, at least in the foreground objects. Shadow detail is well above average and black levels are consistent throughout this presentation, though there is some minor macroblocking in a handful of shots that coincidentally or not are not extremely well lit.
Rush: Time Machine, Live in Cleveland Blu-ray, Audio Quality
While Rush: Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland features an excellent lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix, audiophiles are probably going to be scratching their heads that the only other audio option on this Blu-ray is a really (as in really) anemic sounding Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix that really should be avoided at all costs unless absolutely inescapable due to your home theater setup. Why no LPCM 2.0 mix? It's odd, but probably shouldn't be a deal breaker, especially considering how fabulous the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix sounds for the most part. Low end here is quite impressive, with good clarity and only occasional very slight muddiness. The surround channels are used as they typically are, with the band spread across the front and side channels and crowd and hall ambience bringing up the rear, and some may wish that that crowd noise had been mixed down a bit further (although considering the size of the audience, that may have been impossible). Geddy's voice is occasionally buried in the mass of instruments and the crowd noise, which is probably the most problematic aspect to his otherwise excellent mix. Some might wish for less reverb and occasional delay which is utilized on some songs, which tends to add a little muddiness, especially to the midrange.
Rush: Time Machine, Live in Cleveland Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Rush: Time Machine, Live in Cleveland Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Rush fans don't need to be sold on Rush: Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland. This great, long (close to three hours) concert is a panoply of fantastic Rush tunes from virtually every facet of their storied career. The big selling point here is being able to see Moving Pictures performed live, but really there's a really excellent variety of tunes here in a wide number of different genres, proving that Rush is one of the more underappreciated bands in terms of sheer versatility. The video elements here might strike some as being more silly than inspired, but the actual concert footage is top notch. With excellent video and audio, and some appealing supplements, this release comes Highly recommended.
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