"Would you please welcome home..." That always sounded cool to me - imagine coming back to your hometown, triumphant, selling out huge venues where you used to play to a handful of friends and family. First impressions - it's tight, well-practiced - good opener, you need something to grab people from the off, and this will do nicely. The balance of instruments is good live - just as I suspected it would be when I reviewed the studio version - I'm sure there are effects and so on to come, but this is just three guys doing their thing. One thing - why do all crowds everywhere always feel the need to yell out into any silence? Just asking.
Woah; Geddy speaks! I remember this being the first time I'd hear his speaking voice. Now, I'm not sure whether I prefer my live performances to be full of chat to the audience or not; I think that in Rush's case, the music kind of speaks for itself, but it's good to hear some information about a song sometimes. Must be hard, though, to play shows for months on end and still find something interesting to say about anything. The song is fluid and pretty faithful to the original - I imagine this is a point of pride for these guys at this stage.
Fly By Night / In The Mood
Barely a pause for breath here - straight on with the show. What I'm hearing here is the bass sound - I wonder how difficult it is to concentrate on those bass lines while singing. Even by this point, I suppose Geddy's had enough practice!
Abrupt change for In The Mood - somehow, it works, but the juxtaposition is a little awkward - these two songs are not exactly natural bedfellows, are they? Of course, the drumming stands out as different from the original, but not hugely so - it just couldn't be anyone else.
Something For Nothing
And the contrast with this is quite dramatic - I'm trying to hear if this feels a little less well-rehearsed than the others, but it doesn't. I remember seeing bands in the past who were playing tracks from their new album which they seemed to be barely familiar with, but this just feels like an old friend. It's been pretty full-on up to now; the question is, how do they handle the change of pace which must be coming?
My previously documented ambivalence to this aside, this is pretty much the perfect song for this point in the proceedings - taking the pace down a little, using the introduction to let the audience as well as the band catch their breath, and it works better than I'd have thought - I think that the solo sounds more spontaneous than on the studio version, and the audience seem to be well into it. I didn't skip it this time, must be a good sign.
And at the end, I want it to go into Xanadu...
... but obviously, it doesn't.
How I remember the disappointment of realizing that this was not the full version - no Discovery? At least, that's how I remember it. The overture is damned impressive; boy, these guys can really cut it live! Syrinx is a lot less strident than the recorded version - you couldn't really do that to your voice night after night, I suppose - and for me it's all the better for it. The segue into Presentation works pretty well, although the narrative loses quite a bit - it would all sound a bit odd if you hadn't heard it before. The vocal contrasts are handled well - is Geddy leaning away from the mic as the priest, lending a sense of distance to the proceedings? Whatever, it works.
"The sleep is still in my eyes.." - listen to that rich baritone! Another section has been skipped, but with less damage to the story this time. the final lyric is pure Robert Plant - never noticed that before. And then the Finale, which seems slightly faster than I remember it - always a danger when playing live, I suppose - but it's as creative and complex as ever, and really works in the live context. Did they take a break in the show at this point? I suppose they were young and fit back then; maybe there was no need...
I'm going to take a break, though - back in a moment.