It’s back! The nostalgic arm of rushonrock marries the best of today’s new releases with our favourite albums of yesteryear and this time we dip into the domain of the live album. As a genre the live record is a hit and miss affair but some bands know how to hit the mark – again and again and again…

Now: 2008 Snakes And Arrows Live (Atlantic) is the end-game to Rush’s latest release and world tour which saw Geddy, Neal and Alex take a truly remarkable record across the world. Stopping off in Newcastle en route, and with roasted chickens in tow, the prog rock maestros thrilled hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe with faultless performances night in, night out.

What you get on Snakes And Arrows Live is the band’s Rotterdam show recorded in all its glory and on two CDs there’s enough room to pack in 27 new standards and old classics. Whether The Main Monkey Business floats your boat (and it is rushonrock‘s fave new Rush song bar none) or you prefer a Tom Sawyer backed trip down memory lane you’ll find more highlights here than in David Coverdale’s hair circa 1987.

Check out the 2008 version of Subdivisions and you could be excused for thinking you’ve been missing something all these years. Listen to Mission and you might even get down off your high horse and accept Hold Your Fire was a brilliant record after all (we’ve always suspected as much).

It takes a lot for a live album to make us sit up and take notice, let alone play more than once. But Snakes And Arrows Live is the kind of record that has you coming back for more – like that little rock chick you used to know from the Mayfair with the smudged eyeliner and quirky skirts…

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Rush Out And Buy This Now!

…And Then 1989: A Show Of Hands (PolyGram) is the often overlooked live Rush record which, like a good red wine, simply improves with age.

In this day and age of 5.1 sound and high definition it’s difficult to draw a direct comparison between the band’s live records of today and their legacy from the past. Our battered rushonrock copy comes on two slabs of vinyl within a gatefold sleeve so straight away some of Rush’s trademark production quality is lost.

On the flipside there’s a certain atmosphere about this record and the fact that it brings together performances from five cities on both sides of The Pond shouldn’t detract from the listening experience. Rather than settle on one show and take the risk that certain songs could be substandard, a more sensible approach means fans get to hear the best versions of the best songs from the Hold Your Fire tour.

And there are plenty. Again there’s only half as many to choose from as you get with Snakes And Arrows Live but there’s only so much quality you can squeeze onto 20-year-old vinyl. Again you can’t look much further than Subdivisions (recorded in Birmingham, UK) for an obvious highlight but we just love Time Stand Still. It remains a statement of its time for a new generation of Rush fans and sounds suitably awesome belted out live.

Wrapping up the B-side of the second record with Red Sector A and Closer To The Heart brings a brilliant set list to the perfect conclusion. Rush in 2008 might be peerless as production kings but for a raw and more rounded view of the band you simply must buy this record (on vinyl, if you can).

rushonrock rated: 9/10 A Show Of Strength