by Zoe Records

I got R30 a few weeks ago, on its release date. If you regularly read here or know me, you know I’m a pretty rabid Rush fan. I’ve been critical of the sound quality of some of their more recent material, but I still listen to a good portion of their albums regularly. Enough that Ryan requests Signals in the car. 😉 I’ll take all the new Rush releases I can, because you never know when they’re going to decide they’ve had enough. However, Power Windows reports that the boys are going to record a new album early in 2006 for release in the summer. Can’t wait.

Back to R30. The package is substantial; a quad-fold dual-tray case holds both DVDs, the envelope with the two audio CDs of the show, guitar picks from Alex and Geddy, and a commemorative backstage pass and booklet. The booklet’s size (1.5x the height of a CD booklet) makes for a nice layout, and there’s lots of pictures. DVD 1 is most of the 30th anniversary show performed in Frankfurt, Germany on September 24, 2004. They cut a number of songs: “Bravado”, “YYZ”, “The Trees”, “One Little Victory”, “Secret Touch”, “Red Sector A”, and some of the ending medley. Some of those songs were on Rush In Rio, but this concert DVD looks and sounds so much better, so it’s a shame they weren’t included. The stuff that is there is still quite a full show, and it rocks. I appreciated the fact that they integrated some of the video from the concert backdrop (like “That Darn Dragon”) directly into the DVD as opposed to showing it playing on the backdrop itself. The DVD’s anamorphic widescreen presentation is a relief given the letterboxing of RIR. The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is fun; the rear channels are used for ambience more than audience or effects. It works for me. The only time I thought the audio was sub-par was after the guitar solo in “Earthshine”; a prominent low-end sound takes over the mix for the few bars until the last verse. It sounds that way on the CD as well.

My favorite part of the package is probably DVD 2, with its archive of interviews and performance videos from “The Anthem Vault”. I had a few of these items, like the 1994 Juno Hall Of Fame Induction and the recent Canada for Asia recording of “Closer To The Heart” for tsunami relief, but they obviously weren’t of this quality. As I blogged before, seeing the “Fly By Night” video with the very young Rush playing was a real treat. It really illustrates where they’ve been. One thing that struck me was how much Neil’s performance back then resembles his playing now.

This package is a great memento of a great 30th anniversary tour. If you are a fan and don’t treat yourself to this, you’re nuts. I was disappointed with Rush In Rio, but they’ve redeemed themselves with this release.