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Rush - 'Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland' (roadrunner) 4/5

To say Rush are true elder statesmen of rock is a gross understatement. Since they first crawled wide eyed and innocent from the suburbs of Toronto in 1968 they have grown to become one of the biggest selling rock outfits of all time. 40 million units shifted, gold and platinum discs by the shed load, 18 studio albums, eight previous live sets and more singles than you can shake a stick at... all goes to show that over the years they must be doing something right And now we have live album number nine to keep the Rush heads happy while they are waiting for next years Clockwork Angels, which will be studio opus number 19.

Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland, was recorded in Cleveland Ohio (natch) as part of a North American tour the band played as a break from the recording of the Aforementioned Clockwork Angles opus. Now I know live albums can be a bit of contentious issue amongst rock fans. Some, me included, love them and revel in the rawness, the power and the atmosphere they create, others tend to find them too rough, under produced and lacking the polish of studio recordings. Horses for courses I suppose, and I know this one is going to be just as divisive.

Basically this is a warts-and-all-as-it-happened raw live set. All the little mistakes and errors have been left in. For example Geddy Lees voice on the first few tracks isn't fully warmed up, and he doesn't quite hit some of the high notes on the opener Spirit Of the Radio, Alex Lifeson does a few nearly dropped notes and swift recovery in places like the intro to Presto, later on in a few places a tiring Neil Peart tends to drag the tempo on a few tracks. Now before you fill the comment box damning me for saying that these rock gods are making errors let me explain that this is a GOOD THING. It shows that what we have on offer here is a genuine live show, there's been little or no post production studio tinkering or over dubbing going on, and its those little imperfections that make the live performance come alive, if you want it note perfect stick to the studio stuff, live albums are about excitement and atmosphere not slavish musical reproduction. Besides this album is a full concert well over two hours long, I defy anyone to go on stage with any instrument and play for that length of time without making the odd fluff or getting a bit weary. Hell, when I'm onstage with Alien Stash Tin I'm struggling after half that time, so I have maximum respect for these guys for doing it for two hours plus night after night and still keep playing to this exceptionally high standard.

And to be honest the standard of playing is as good as you can expect from these three musical legends. Once he's warmed up Geddy Lees voice is still as rangy and as distinctive as it was back in the 1970's, Mr Lifeson is still showing why he is one of the most influential guitarists of all time, and whether your one of the people who thinks Neil Peart is one the greatest drummers the world has ever known, or one of those who thinks he's too flash for his own good, the fact remains he does what he does in fine style (even if it is a 6 minute drum solo).

Gotta admit the set on offer is a pretty good un as well, I'm glad to hear my all time fave Rush cut Time Stands Still given an airing (no Analogue Kid, The Trees, Body Electric or New World Man though, still you can't have it all), all the old faves are on show, Tom Sawyer, Spirit Of The Radio, Red Barchetta, 2112 Overture... along with some more recent cuts like Workin' Them Angels and Far Cry. Plus there is an airing for a couple of numbers, Caravan and BU2B, from next years Clockwork Angels album that shows that the magic of the Rush machine shows no sign of drying up anytime soon.

So as far as live albums go, or Rush live albums go for that matter, this is pretty good, its no Exit Stage Left, but its still pretty damn fine all the same.

Well worth checking out.

For fans of.... Rush and classic rock in general

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