If Rock 'n roll is dead then Rush clearly missed the memo. Remaining relevant for more than thirty years as a power rock trio is nothing to sneeze at and ironically, Rush seems to be in its prime as the new decade begins. Being low key has certainly helped Rush survive, but something else has to explain their worldwide legion of fans and the popularity of the upcoming tour. Movie star looks? Nah. Tabloid covers? Nope. Reality show guest appearances? Not likely. The members of Rush genuinely like one another and their chemistry on stage makes for a very coherent presentation. Geddy, Neil, and Alex are incredibly talented musicians; three guys who have put in the years of sweat to achieve the sound that they have and it translates on film very well.
Filmed during a series of concerts in Holland during their 2007 tour, Snakes and Arrows Live is a captivating and beautifully shot concert video that captures the band at the top of its game. Every song transitions smoothly into the next and the immediacy of the cinematography just reaches out and puts you in the best seat in the house. The crowd lacks the electrifying energy of the tens of thousands in Brazil who made Rush in Rio such a hit, but they clearly enjoyed themselves.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is wonderfully clear and spacious sounding; you can pinpoint all three musicians on stage with your eyes closed. Geddy Lee's Fender Jazz bass dominates the soundstage from the right and you can hear him hitting every note with outstanding clarity and richness. Neil Peart pounds the skins better than anyone alive and there is both outstanding air on the top end and tautness in the bass as each song unfolds. Alex Lifeson's beautiful guitar work fills in the rest of the soundtrack from the left side of the stage creating an almost perfect sounding recording. The surround channels add ambience and crowd noise when appropriate. Superlative sound from start to finish.
Rush tries its hand at acting on this Blu-ray release and while Geddy Lee is pretty convincing (and downright scary looking) as an angry Scotsman, the short films don't really go anywhere and get tedious rather quickly. Far more interesting and entertaining are a series of bootleg concert segments from a concert held earlier in the tour in Atlanta. Not only is the song selection outstanding; "2112", "The Trees", and "Ghost of a Chance", but the performances are Rush at its best. Thankfully, Rush focuses more on their music and less on themselves. The only gripe? The bootlegs are not in HD.
Rush has survived and remained relevant as a rock band for more than thirty years. Few bands can say the same. Not only has their music become more interesting, but they have clearly learned how to use technology to produce a stellar looking product. Few thought that they would top Rush in Rio; one of the finest concert videos of the decade. Not only have they pushed the envelope a tad further with Snakes and Arrows Live, but they have kept the rock 'n roll torch (which has nearly been extinguished as musical tastes change) burning just a little bit longer; something to be thankful for indeed.
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