Oakland 1992 2nd Night The Original DAT Master (Cygnus 021/022)
Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA, USA – January 30, 1992
Disc 1 (71:07) Intro, Force Ten, Limelight, Freewill, Distant Early Warning, Time Stands Still, Dreamline, Bravado, Roll The Bones, Show Don’t Tell, The Big Money, Ghost Of A Chance, Subdivisions, The Pass
Disc 2 (53:40) Where’s My Thing?, The Rhythm Method, Closer To The Heart, Xanadu, Superconductor, Tom Sawyer, The Spirit Of Radio, 2112 Overture, Finding My Way, La Villa Strangiato, Anthem, Red Barchetta, The Spirit Of Radio (reprise)
As the 80’s were brought to a close, Rush would also be in another transitory flux with their music. Much of the decade was spent perfecting technology and the art of structure and production. With the experiment drawing to a close the band would begin to express themselves with more of a focus on the basics; bass, drums, and guitar and the first step in the 90’s would be Presto. While the record would be another step forward (when has the band gone backwards?) it suffered from a somewhat bland production and while it definitely had moments, it only had a few really brilliant ones and the record would become sort of a dark horse in the band’s catalog. Its follow up would not be so different, more like its popular twin sibling to speak and for me both records seem intertwined, much like Power Windows and Hold Your Fire were in the 80’s. When released in September 1991, Roll The Bones would succeed with more of an upbeat vibe that would propel four songs onto the rock charts and be a cry to rock fans that Rush was back to playing guitar based rock.
The tour to support Roll The Bones would spawn at least four soundboard recordings, the recording featured here is the most popular due to the previous bootleg titles, my first taste came from a single compilation title, Time To Roll (Red Devil RED-004) before getting the vastly popular Mirrors (Oxygen OXY 003/4). Other titles include Rush ‘N’ Roulette (Silver Rarities SIRA 54/55) and Conduction (Gypsy Eye GE-059/060) and the sound on all was excellent. What makes the Oakland board tape so nice is the mix, virtually perfect and could pass as a legitimate release, the crowd is mixed perfectly in with the music. The NYC board tape actually has a better bottom end but the crowd is extremely low in the mix, most cite the main issue with the Oakland show is it is just an average performance, for me it must be stated that an average performance by Rush is heads and tails above many other bands best. In 2009 a new transfer from a 1st gen copy came into circulation, boasting better sound and a bit longer, we get a snippet of pre concert music, it was a nice upgrade. Like the Frankfurt 1979 show, this new title from Cygnus has a much warmer sound, the highs are not as shrill and the concert just sounds better, in fact it has been in my stereo for well over a week. Last night my wife just came and closed the door to my cave as she is certainly sick of hearing it, and this from a woman who has sat through many a Rush show. Cygnus has done a wonderful job mastering this to CD, but again it starts with source material and it does not get any better than this.
A brief snippet of Temple Of The Dog’s Hunger Strike is being played over the PA but quickly fades so the mechanical intro for Rush leads into the Hold Your Fire rocker Force Ten. A perfect opener, the band would alternate openers as sometimes Dreamline would also be used. The mix is perfect from the get go, the rumor behind this tape surfacing is that the sound man was making a copy of the show for Les Claypool from opening band Primus and somehow it fell into the wrong hands, the story is interesting but I have never seen a legitimate confirmation. The audience goes bonkers when Alex breaks into the Limelight riff, the song pleases the audience but does lack enthusiasm, yet Alex plays the solo wonderfully. The beginning of Freewill sounds disjointed and like its predecessor, finds the group warming up so to speak, Distant Early Warning is just that song that finds the band locking in as they play a rousing version. The band hits their mark and sounds like they are having a great time playing it, great solo and Neil’s drumming is killer. Time Stands Still has grown on me over the years, kinda like Neil’s Landslide so to speak, the Aimee Mann’s vocal tapes are synced perfectly.
We get a nice section of new material, Dreamline and Bravado both sound fresh and well received, the latter being a personal favorite, interesting to hear Geddy’s use of his own backing vocals to flesh out the chorus, with a little help from Alex to boot. Presto gets some love, I dig the hell out of Show Don’t Tell, you can hear a pre song video playing, the band was incorporating more multi media on this tour. The opener from Presto sounds great live, great intricate playing from the band, nice fat riff from Alex too bad they play little from the record although it was great hearing the title track a tour or so back. Alex’s altered vocals are almost demonic sounding. After a standard The Big Money, the band perform another new one, Ghost Of A Chance, probably my favorite of the radio songs from the record, great chorus and melancholy interlude with a vocal similar to Faithless from Snakes & Arrows. It’s amazing the life Subdivisions has had, seems like it has never been out of the band’s live set, if it has not for long! Another killer from Presto, band favorite and audience like it too, The Pass. Rush clicking on all cylinders and kind of like Subdivisions part two, the songs work very well together, great song on record and one that is even better live.
Instrumentals are something Rush has used to great success, some of their most loved material is devoid of words (YYZ for instance), the band had not written one for what ten frickin years, Where’s My Thing? makes up for lost ground. This is Rush’s take on jazz fusion and for me it works, I love that Neil has embraced jazz, it has deepened his playing. The song is a prelude to Neil’s Rhythm Method solo, a full percussive solo of styles and music themes that incorporate many interesting styles, he even throws a few of his “classic” pieces into the mix. Up until the latest R40 tour, my only other live experiences with Xanadu were during this period where it was used partially and combined with Superconductor, much like By-Tor was used in the same fashion so many tours ago. So majestic in its glory, the beginning is not as long and detailed but still a thing to wonder, from memory Alex played the song on a Strat and not the double neck. Kinda of a strange paring, I do like Superconductor, it does have a simple beat you can dance to.
The classics part of the show follows, the Moving Pictures interlude leads to Tom Sawyer, Alex’s guitar sounds dull in the mix making for a somewhat lackluster version that brings the main set to an end. The encore is made up of a medley of classics, Spirit Of Radio leads the fray and is played in full but leads non stop into a bevy of classics, 2112 Overture leads into a deep Finding My Way in true nostalgia for certain! Just when you think Alex is taking the night off the band goes into his killer solo section from La Villa Strangiato and he lets it rip in true perfection. Interesting to hear Geddy singing Anthem, the aggressive vocals prove a bit difficult for him as the bands 80’s direction did not require that style of vocal. A brief stab at Red Barchetta and a Spirit reprise ends the shows, Geddy thanks the audience for a great couple of days. While not one of those shows that blows you completely away, it is a decent performance and unbelievable recording.
As with other Cygnus titles, the packaging is simple full color inserts with RTB graphics and great live shots of the band all housed in a slim line jewel case. The CD’s have pictures on them and I get a numbered sticker also. The past couple of releases from Cygnus have been nice and are perfectly timed, I am in a major Rush craze right now I just cannot seem to listen to them enough and this title will most certainly appeal to collectors in general. I would like to see Cygnus take some chances, so far all of their releases have been worthy but would like to see them stretch out a bit. We The People….I mean collectors need a good title from the Signals tour, an updated version of Wembley or better yet the Nassau Coliseum show would be great. Also a full show from Permanent Waves would be nice and even the Rockford 75 gig would be a great addition, fair sound but the live version of The Necromancer would be the end all, nice to see the Lampinski 79 tape getting its due, it is certainly deserving. Last word, turn this up to….11 and prepare yourself for a major round of air guitar and drumming.