Rush - R30: 30th Anniversary World Tour
Heavy metal in the '80s was slammed for turning kids into cat-sacrificing Satanists. Because of hip-hop, a generation and a half care only about money to buy guns and guns to get more money. But Rush are the worst - Alex, Geddy and Neil would like nothing more than for you to loaf in front of the tube all day. Just as you've recovered from that yardstick of DVDs, Rush In Rio, the guys load up and bombard us with R30, which opens ecstatically not one way, but two. As you groove to the "R30 Overture" introduction, an intimate instrumental medley of a bunch of killer old Rush riffs (Sabbath's done this too, remember?), you open yourself up to the plush physical elements of this crazy package: a four-fold gate, a Geddy pick, an Alex pick (wot, no Neil stick?), a big booklet of photos, a faux backstage pass (ha... like they'd want us backstage), and way stage right, a nifty gatefold 2CD version of the concert. Into the DVD, and you get the campfire-ready Frankfurt show in gorgeous fidelity, Neil's drums in particular captured sprightly and tightly (he naughtily overdrums Anthem which back in '75, was already over-drummed, but he slow-simmers 'Animate'). It's too sick, the selection of songs, which also includes Feedback cover selections and lost years weirdness like Mystic Rhythms, Force Ten and Dreamline, which now fit due to the leveling factor of a singular live sound. Onto DVD two and you get videos, soundcheck stuff, other live tracks (including Freewill from the triumphant Toronto Rocks stand - AC/DC gets all the press, but Rush ruled as well). There's also the big Juno Awards career retro documentary, which includes all sorts of other-band testimonials, plus interview footage through out the years, which serves to highlight the discomfort an under-stated and shy Rush has talking about themselves. Capping it off, you get the first mention of the band Wireless in DVD format, although deeper satisfaction comes in Geddy mumbling the names of UFO, Pat Travers and Max Webster, the latter being a band fully equal to (or perhaps greater than?) Rush in terms of creative contribution to rock 'n' roll Canuckness.
Proto-Kaw - The Wait Of Glory
Proto-Kaw is guitarist Kerry Livgren's pre-Kansas band, and here they be, following up '04's Before Came After with their first album of all new material, punning for us with The Wait Of Glory. The Proto-Kaw sound is one of complex but warm layering. One hears modern day Steve Hackett here, along with Hogarth-era Marillion, Kansas at a lighter touch, the safest 30 minutes of Zappa you can compile, Magellan, Spock's Beard and Neal Morse solo. All of this comes from the warm melding of a myriad of instruments, from sax and flute to all manner of keyboards and heavy guitars, backed by the boomy Mangini-like drums of Mike Patrum. Label hype has called this progressive jazz-psychedelia, but it is too expensively appointed, too disciplined and too rocky to land in that space. Still, there is that sense that this goes too many places, and the behaved nature of the trip turns the album middle of the road and even kind of corporate-sounding - the dreamy lull of the thing works both to advantage and disadvantage. More guitars and less penthouse suite '80s arrangements next time, please!
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