Recorded and filmed over two (sold-out, of course) evenings at Toronto's Air Canada Centre in the midst of the band's 35-date North American R40 tour, the aptly named R40 Live finds Rush at a crossroads. On the one hand, it's a festive affair that sees the stalwart trio performing a lethal mix of classics, deep cuts, and recent triumphs with the gusto of men many years younger, but that carnival atmosphere is tempered by the fact that after 41 years, the band may be finally exiting stage left. Neil Peart's chronic tendonitis may be the biggest contributing factor to the band's retirement from the road, but one would be hard-pressed to find any flaws in his performance. In fact, R40 Live may be the band's most dynamic live LP to date. Boasting a career-spanning set list that works its way backwards, beginning with a thunderous rendition of 2012's Clockwork Angels highlight "The Anarchist," R40 Live is best experienced with the show's visuals intact, as the band pairs each song with the era-correct tour staging, from the whimsical laundromat dryers of the 1990s to the pared-down classic rock/curtained theater vibe of the 1970s. Also, fans of the band's oft-used comical tour videos will be treated to a bevy of special guests including the likes of Les Claypool, Peter Dinklage, Chad Smith, Jason Segal and Paul Rudd, Tom Morello, and Jay Baruchel, but there's still plenty of pure audio to please the hardcore base. All of the usual suspects are accounted for ("Tom Sawyer," "The Spirit of Radio," "Closer to the Heart," "2112," "Subdivisions," etc.), but the addition of Permanent Waves fave "Jacob's Ladder" and Signals' "Losing It," the former of which hasn't been performed live since 1980 and the latter which finds its way to the stage for the very first time, helps to make the delightful R40 Live a must for any true Rush devotee. ~ James Christopher Monger
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- Plays the Music of Rush (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)