Clockwork Angels Tour DVD: Let ‘Em Know We’re Goofy
Alex, Geddy, and Neil put their goofy side front and center in the Clockwork Angels Tour 2-DVD set that released earlier this week. The first disc captures their live show over the course of three 2012 dates: Phoenix, Nov. 25, Dallas Nov. 28, and San Antonio, Nov. 30.
The band spared no expense in the camera set-up for the concert video, so the footage benefits from a luxurious variety of perspectives. You have sweeping shots of the audience, intimate shots of the string ensemble, and some interesting takes on Neil, including a recurring shot of him from the floor of his drum kit. It’s not the most flattering angle for capturing anyone, but given the constraints imposed by having a wall of drums around you, it kind of makes sense.
Not everyone is happy with the way the concert video is shot and edited. Fans on RushIsABand have had an extensive back-and-forth on whether some of the perspectives are effective. Several people complained about the weird angle on Neil and others don’t like some of the distance shots, which appear out of focus.
Most critical comments, though, were directed at the editing: it’s simply too frantic. The camera never holds on any one thing for more than a few seconds, giving the video a hyperactive quality that distracts from the music.
That’s a subjective matter that always divides people. My own take is the footage is no more or no less busy than any other production today, so I put myself in the agnostic column.
I do have some thoughts on the second DVD, though. It starts off with Alex, Geddy, and Neil playing “Limelight” for their soundcheck, and the way the piece is edited gives it an intimate feel. The camera occasionally sweeps around the arena to show how vast—and empty—it is, and that’s an effective way to give the soundcheck some poignancy.
There’s also a fine mini-documentary, “Can’t Stop Thinking Big,” in which we hear thoughts on the touring life from Alex, Geddy, and Neil, but we also get a refreshing introduction to some of the string musicians, mainly Jonathan Dinklage and Entcho Todorov, the two violinists from New York (well, Dinklage is actually a viola player), and the two female members of the ensemble, cellist Adele Stein and violinist Audrey Solomon.
We spend the most time wth these four, and it makes for engaging video. Dinklage and Todorov have an attractive dynamic between them: Dinklage as the Rush fan since first grade and Todorov as the one who had never heard of the band before.
The documentary makes clear that Rush and the ensemble have forged close bonds and everyone has been enriched by the experience. And I think many people would agree the music has been enriched by it as well.
Geddy makes the interesting point that, unique to this tour, he was getting energy from the audience in front of him and the string musicians in back of him, and that has been an unexpected benefit of having the ensemble on tour with them.
We also learn that Rush manager Ray Danniels had been pushing back against embelishing Rush music with a string ensemble for quite some time, well before Clockwork Angels, mainly on cost grounds. Geddy said that Ray has always been trying to save money while the band has always been trying to spend money. The band finally prevailed, and the result has been this energizing addition to the music and the concert experience.
The remainder of the second disc can pretty much be summed up in the phrase, “Let goofiness prevail!” The outtakes, “Interview with Dwush,” “Family Goy” (right), and several other special features are all about showing how non-serious the boys are when it comes to life on the road. Alex in a separate interview with Darren Redick of Planet Rock that he gave in mid-November said Rush takes its music seriously but they like to balance that with light-hearted goofiness, and you can certainly see that here. A lot of silliness and bathroom humor, which some people will like more than others. But it does help counter-balance the complexity and thought-provoking character of their music. So, you get the best of both worlds.—Rob Freedman, Rush Vault
Read the back-and-forth commentary on the video editing on RushIsABand.