Rush- Live In Passaic 1976: Released in 2014 (But recorded in 1976) for Zoe Records
Best Song: 2112
Absolutely amazing, that's what this is. This is another archive release, a video of their December 10, 1976 performance at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ during the All The World's A Stage Tour, as the support act for Foghat (Remember them?) After circulating as a bootleg for a long time, it would be officially released in 2014 on the R40 Box Set.
Before getting into the long list of things I love about this, I will now name the two things I DON'T like. The first is that the album is VERY short, only 35 minutes long, and consisting of 6 songs ("Bastille Day" from Caress of Steel, "Anthem" from Fly By Night, "Lakeside Park" from Caress of Steel, "2112" (Excluding Oracle and Discovery) from 2112, "Fly By Night" from Fly By Night, and "In The Mood" from the debut, with the latter two Performed in a medley.) as they were only supporting, and couldn't play a long set.
The headlining sets would be much longer, with the opening quartet followed by "The Twilight Zone" and "Something For Nothing" from 2112, "Best I Can" and "By-Tor And The Snow Dog" from Fly By Night, an abridged version of "The Necromancer" (Cutting out Into Darkness) from Caress of Steel, "In The End" from Fly By Night, and "Working Man" and "Finding My Way" from the debut before the Fly By Night/In The Mood medley. However, we have live renditions of all of those songs on All The World's A Stage, (Except "Best I Can" which can be found on Live at the Laura Secondary School and ABC 1974, and The Necromancer, which can only be found on bootlegs), and we don't have to sit through an endless drum solo! The second flaw is that the footage is in black and white, which makes no sense (This is 1976, not 1926!).
However, EVERYTHING ELSE in the concert is great, and this is easily my second favorite Rush live album (Different Stages Disc 3 has more songs, and more Rush is better Rush, as well as the fact that it has Xanadu, Cygnus X-1, AND By-Tor And The Snow Dog, all of which are in my top 10 Rush songs, with Xanadu and Cygnus in my top 5). The performances are not just good, they're AMAZING. EVERY song is played with incredible energy, power, and passion. Geddy's voice has reached the peak of his vocal powers, and sounds absolutely fantastic on every song. Alex Lifeson's guitar tone is AWESOME, quite possibly his best tone ever, incredibly raw and powerful. And Neil Peart's drumming rounds it out perfectly. And there's no overdubs! Now, on to the songs themselves.
The opening barrage of "Bastille Day" is played with much greater speed and intensity then the studio, and Geddy's singing sounds AWESOME, screaming out the words like only he can. "Anthem" is also played with greater speed and intensity, and Geddy sounds great again, singing even higher than the studio! The guitar solo also has some great shredding, and the phasing on drums sounds cool. And "Lakeside Park" is also played with greater power and better singing, and also features synthesizers! A great start to this concert.
All this, however, is merely a lead up to the real highlight of the album, the track that is worth buying this all buy it's lonesome, and makes the performances here look like "Available Light" (My least favorite Rush song). I'm talking about, of course, the ABSOLUTE GREATEST PERFORMANCE of "2112" EVER, which (Despite cutting out Discovery and Oracle) is MILES above the studio, and quite possibly the best officially released Rush live performance EVER. The "Overture" doesn't have the incredible tension-building intro of the studio version, but the rest of the performance MORE than makes up for it. The riffs at the 1:30 mark absolutely BLOW AWAY the studio version, and Geddy's screaming is INSANELY powerful in this part. The rest of this chunk is also played with much more power, especially the heavily distorted riffs around 2 minutes in, and the part around 3 minutes in.
The "Temples of Syrinx" section is played with more intensity than the studio, and Geddy's singing is much better. (Are held, within these WALLS!) The drumming is also much better. The "Presentation" section again has a much better raw guitar tone, but what really makes it is Geddy's singing in this part, which is INSANELY powerful, absolutely blowing away it's studio version far into the distance, sounding absolutely GODLY. And we then go into the crazy shredding guitar solo, which is amazing, again. The "Soliloquy" section is also performed with more power, intensity, and has better singing and all the other things that make this the definitive live version, and the "SPILLS OOOOOOOOOOOVER" scream is quite possibly the best he ever did it.
We then finally go into the "Grand Finale" section. The opening riffage blows away the counterpart on the studio album, and then when we go into the intense part, the power and tension is escalated to "INTENSE" to "SO INTENSE IT FEELS LIKE THE WORLD WILL COLLAPSE AROUND YOU ANY MINUTE", and the explosion into chaos at the end is just mindblowing. A performance which simply defies description.
The band then returns to the stage for a performance of the "Fly By Night/"In The Mood" medley. And it sounds great, with great singing, and great guitar tone yet again. The "In The Mood" section features Lee's best official performance of the song, screaming and screeching away. A great way to end a mindblowing show.
Overall, If you love Rush, or even if you don't, buy this immediately (But since it's part of a box set, maybe not). This performance is absolutely stunning, showing the band as an incredible machine with the intent to rock out and capture the audience. Amazing. 5/5. It would be the best Rush live album ever, if not for what comes next...