DVD Review: Rush - Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland

Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland captures the energy of last year’s Time Machine tour, with Rush performing both classic hits and new tunes from their forthcoming (and 20th to date) studio release titled Clockwork Angels.

Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland
2011 Anthem Entertainment

One would be hard-pressed to name a band as polarizing as Rush. But love them or not, their longevity and continued relevancy in the world of rock music is nothing less than impressive. Formed in 1968, the band has continued to create and expand on its very unique blend of rock ’n’ roll, all the while delivering it to a worldwide, devoted fan base. And Rush’s uncanny ability to recreate their complex studio sound on the stage—with just Lifeson, Lee, and Peart at the helm—is legendary.

Premiering first at select theaters before being made available November 8 on DVD/ Blu-ray, Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland captures the energy of last year’s Time Machine tour, with Rush performing both classic hits and new tunes from their forthcoming (and 20th to date) studio release titled Clockwork Angels. Interestingly, it’s the band’s first live performance filmed in the United States, and the tour marked the first time Moving Pictures was played live in its entirety. Cleveland was given the nod for the movie’s concert site, since it was the first city to support Rush with radio airplay.

The cinematography and sound from the opening of the show with “The Spirit of Radio” through the encore’s “Working Man,” is simply stunning. And viewing on a large screen—with the home theater surround set well above ample volume—provided for a great concert experience, leaving wishes that I would have caught the last tour myself. For non-Rush fans who still appreciate extraordinary musicianship, watching the interaction between these three men from Toronto while practicing their craft might make converts. Each member of Rush is truly a master at their respective instrument, and to see how enthused they are to still be playing together for 40-plus years is inspiring. There’s nothing as disappointing as seeing an “elder statesman” band appear haggard from years of hard living and only going through the motions on stage. Rush’s enthusiasm is infectious (even from a television set) and they show no signs of slowing down, musically or creatively.

Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland is much more than a just a one-night capture of the tour’s 26-song set. Rush has long been using film segments for their live shows— often humorous—and the DVD’s short-film segments show that Lifeson, Lee, and Peart may have a future in comedic character acting when/if they decide to stop playing music. Without giving too much away, the first segment of the movie, titled The ‘Real’ History of Rush Episode No. 2 “Don’t Be Rash,” is a surreal scene in a deli/diner with a young polka band playing a Rush cover poorly, with Lee as the proprietor behind the counter, Peart as a grumpy cop, and Lifeson as a … well, a large and gassing patron of the deli trying his best to get another sausage down. And when the time machine enters the scene, manipulating the polka band’s styling of “Spirit of Radio,” the film truly begins. Confused or interested? This is not your typical concert film and shows again that these guys are all about having fun, reminiscent of another pretty cool concert/concept film called The Song Remains the Same.

If you’re a Rush fan, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re not a fan, you may just dig it, too. This movie would stand on its own as a fine concert recording even without the additional film segments and bonus features. Maybe the trio understands the efforts of their fans in getting non-fans onboard, and provides a fun watch for all. My spouse was upset with me for a week after a taking her to a Rush show a few years ago, but she enjoyed this film immensely.

Am I a Rush fan? Yes, I think it’s obvious, but I’m a relatively casual one. That said, seeing Moving Pictures in its entirety was pretty damn rewarding, not to mention the additional vintage concert clips and other material throughout. —Rich Osweiler

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