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Rush - Different Stages - Live CD (album) cover




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4.34 | 388 ratings

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3 stars It's interesting to see how Different Stages is the highest rated Rush live album, even though it mainly documents some of their lowest rated albums. The reason can't be the choice of songs or the more powerful live sound. No, it clearly got something to do with that nice little bonus called cd3, "Hammersmith Odeon, 1978"!

So we get a lavish 3cd packaging here, which was quite a treat back in 1998. But what about the content?

A mixed bag for me. The playing is stellar throughout, like a well-oiled machine, but I'm not too fond of the very loud mastering. There's no body and warmth in the sound, it's a too obtrusive clutter of mid-range frequency. The 'i-pod' or rather 'ear-phone' sound. Dreadful, you'll be tune-deaf after less then half an hour.

All songs stick true to the originals. Rush isn't a band engaging in wild live jams. Apart from an occasional flash such as the extended bass guitar part in Driven, there are no surprises here. Still, I very much enjoy the live rendition of some of the recent songs. Dreamline and Bravado are just two examples where the added live energy breathes new life into songs that were rather stale on the studio albums.

Geddy's vocal pitch has lowered a bit to a warmer and fuller tone, much to the appreciation of my wife who usually needs to block out Geddy's voice to be able to appreciate anything Rush. I'm sure there are more people with similar problems. But the changed vocal range is quite problematic on some of the older songs. Limelight sounds rather bland frankly, and songs like The Trees and The Temple Of Syrinx are disappointing. On the intense moments Geddy is either off-pitch or has to resort to alternate melodies that simply don't work.

There are exceptions. Freewill is performed most convincingly, these guys must have played this tune a 1000 times already but still they are focussed and enthusiastic. True professionals! The highlight must be Natural Science, which makes more impact on me here then on Permanent Waves.

CD3 brings us back to the old days and is a nice gem for the fans. The setlist isn't entirely satisfying though. The songs from Farewell To Kings are still very true to the originals and the string of encores doesn't bring out a very inspired performance. It's a nice to have but there are much more interesting '78-'79 concerts available.

Bonnek | 3/5 |


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