Rush: Snakes And Arrows Live Holland 2007 (Blu-ray) 2008 DTS-HD Master Audio
Filmed over two performances in Rotterdam, Holland in October of 2007, Rush's new DVD Snakes & Arrows Live captures the legendary band in peak form, performing classic Rush material and nine new songs from their critically acclaimed 2007 CD Snakes & Arrows. Bonus footage of four songs added for their 2008 American tour, including "Ghost of a Chance," filmed here for the first time.
Since the release of their eponymous first LP in 1974, Rush has continually expanded the definition of "progressive power trio." Guitarist Alex Lifeson, bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Geddy Lee and drummer/lyricist Neil Peart combine dazzling virtuosity, laser-beam intensity and unbridled creativity to create a cohesive whole that's infinitely greater than its parts. The Toronto-based group has become one of Canada's leading exports, with a catalog of genre-defining releases including 2112, Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures, Vapour Trails and Snakes & Arrows and a live show which combines musicianship, showmanship and multi-media effects that engage all the senses. Following their previous best-selling DVDs Rush in Rio and R30, Snakes & Arrows Live presents a band not resting on its considerable laurels but still earning its reputation as one of the world's best live bands - one night at a time.
If you are a Rush fan, this package will return you to the concert hall over and over and over...with an almost godlike seat at the show. I saw the S&A Tour live from 14th row floor, but THIS is far more enjoyable. And there is something to be said when a 5-inch disc made of plastic can contain footage and sound that trumps (in my opinion) an actual live experience.
The winning catch on the Blu-Ray is (no surprise) the picture quality. The first 60 seconds convinces you that you'll never go back to DVD...ever. Seeing Alex come out in the crisp white spotlights, you can see every stitch in his clothing, every detail on his guitar, you think you can reach in and pluck the strings. They're all there, not in a fuzz of traditional video, but like a crisp expensive digital camera photo. Then comes the launch of Limelight, the stage goes lit, and you sit back in awe. Neil's gold-plated kit, the video screens, the lights, the crowd...all stunningly detailed. This was shot in HD, and made for HD. And you know it. It's unmistakable. For the entire show you get to see everything in a way I've never openly noticed in a Rush concert video before. There were some fans involved in editing or something. The editors hired must have been Rush fans. Because they switch the cameras and stick in shots that are the tastiest and coolest ever...head over heels better than even the R30 Tour DVD, which I thought was well done...it only gets wayyy better. My gawd, they let you see everything. Geddy's keyboards, Alex's pedalboards, Neil's feet, the dolls and animals all over the stage, and gear from all angles. On Blu-Ray I found myself pausing over and over again (because you can actually READ the settings on Ged's keyboards, and the notes on Alex's pedals!!) Tons of audience shots galore. People singing, headbanging, dancing...and you can see their faces and what it says on their shirts! I also like they don't necessarily hide the cameras and technical stuff. You can see the cranes, the cameramen, and the little robotic dolly camera zipping back and forth across the front of the stage. It's like they set everything up and just said "you guys go out there and rock, we'll capture every last drop of it" Well, they did.
Rush's Snakes and Arrows powers onto the Bluray format with a reference quality 1080i/AVC encode, framed at a 1:78:1 aspect ratio. Filmed with 21 HD cameras, this disc is a showpiece of visual quality. The source is pristine, with absolutely no digital artifacts to be found. Black levels are inky deep, and contrast is perfect, as this combination give images superb dynamic range. Detail and fine detail is exemplary as every hair, wrinkle, types of fabric, the chickens in the giant rotisserie ovens, clothing, the settings on Geddy's keyboards, even down to the notes on his pedal board are easily discernable. Every detail on the drum kit, guitars, speakers, and even down to the mobile robo cam is clearly visible as well. Colors exhibit an extremely wide palette, are well saturated, and lack smearing and chroma noise. All of the primaries and secondaries are well represented, and the colored beams of light from the lighting and lasers contrasted next to the absence of light were visually stunning. I have no problem giving the picture quality a perfect score, it deserves nothing less. I couldn't find anything wrong with it even when I was actively looking for it.
As with other concert videos, the sound is the king. Granted an excellent 5.1 Dts-HD master audio mix encoded at 24/48 kHz bit and sample rate, the audio is as good as the picture quality with just one problem that seems to dog every rock and roll music video release I have reviewed. The sound field is huge, stretching across the entire width of my room, from floor to ceiling, and from the just in front my speakers to the front wall of my home theater. Instead of trying to capture the natural ambience of the arena, the music is nicely folded from the fronts to the rear, giving a nice spaciousness to the overall mix, without sounding overly reverberant. No detail is lost, as the instrumental clarity factor is first rate. The bass emanating from the LFE is tight, extremely well defined, and very clean. Geddy uses chords on the bass guitar, and it is very difficult to record without sounding muddy (I learned that the hard way). Here it is crystal clear, highly textured, and well balanced. I heard of complaints of bass levels being too low on this release, but on my system that just wasn't the case. The kick drum was also well captured, is tight as a rubber band, and comes across very balanced. The entire drum kit is well captured, and does not suffer from the 12ft wide imaging I have heard from other music video releases. Lifeson's lead guitar is also well defined, but can get buried on occasion. The upper frequencies sound a little pushed, and that is evident when the volume it turned up. It however gives the overall mix tremendous clarity, without sounding overly harsh or strident. Keyboards are captured in a far off way, giving them an ethereal kind of feel when accompanying the other instruments. My only peeve with this mix lies in the prioritizing of the vocals in the mix. They are quite frankly buried when the other instruments kick in, and Geddy's diction is not exactly the best I have heard. For me, that is not enough to keep the audio from getting a perfect score, as so much is right, it far outweighs the negatives.
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080i
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English: LPCM 2.0
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English: LPCM 2.0 (less)
50GB Blu-ray Disc
Single disc (1 BD)
Directors: Pierre & Francois Lamoureux
Format: NTSC, Widescreen
Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Zoe Records / Pgd
DVD Release Date: November 24, 2008
Run Time: 221 minutes
Live Concerts: LC068