Set for production as a live DVD from the Vapour Trails tour, the audio from Rush in Rio clearly stands as a startling historical and musical document. The live mix is simply superb and reveals the show as it happened, without overdubs or DAT splices. The band played in front of their second-largest crowd ever, 40,000 people on the final night of the tour. (The largest was 60,000-plus the night before in São Paulo in the rain.) Covering three CDs, this is one of those documents that can make a punter wonder why he ever doubted the glory, majesty, and heavy, overblown, pretentious rock power of Rush. Opening with thunderous crowd noise, "Tom Sawyer" -- with complete audience participation from the git -- it is somehow awe-inspiring to hear 40,000 people singing the song with Geddy Lee. These people are so crazy; they aren't left out of the mix because they couldn't be! But it works. There was no soundcheck that night due to production delays in the arena. This is the sound of a band going for it in spite of everything and on the wing -- and the sound, very live, very real, extremely dynamic -- and not only do they pull it off; they issue their best live outing ever. Seeing Rush live can be an experience, but only those people in Rio saw them like this: far from complacent veteran rock stars, they musically push their own envelopes to the breaking point and goad each other onto ever greater intensity. Lee's bass playing has never been this ferocious, so aggressive and driving -- on a live album anyway. Neil Peart pushes the entire band with his polyrhythmic assault and overdriven flourishes and fills; knowing this is the last date, he gives it all up in every single track. And Alex Lifeson, ever the band player, is, on this night anyway, simply the greatest arena rock guitarist in the world. The program ranges over the band's entire recorded output. The majority of the material comes from Farewell to Kings and after, though "Working Man," "2112," and a medley of "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" and "Cygnus X-1" are present here. Versions of "Roll the Bones," "The Big Money," "One Little Victory," "Ghost Rider," "Red Sector A," and "La Villa Strangiato" are given something like their definitive reads. Again, on well-known tracks like "Closer to the Heart," "Free Will," and "Spirit of Radio," the crowd participation would normally be off-putting. In this context, however, it is an asset. One can hear how this adulation and frenzy literally feeds the band, forcing the issue and making these breathtaking performances. To round out the encores on disc three Rush has included "board bootlegs" of "Between Sun & Moon" and "Vital Signs" that are more than worthy performances. They were taken from shows in Phoenix and Quebec. For those for whom Rush is a secret and guilty pleasure, it's time to indulge it openly by playing this for friends who erroneously insist that Sonic Youth or Strokes concert bootlegs are the epitome of "big-label live rock." For the faithful, you'll know. This one is bloody great.