Forget Taylor Swift’s Eras, This Is The Concert Movie You Need To See

By Robert Scucci | Updated

concert movie
Rush in Rio (2003)

October 13 brought us Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, which is a perfect example of a concert movie where the audience will scream the lyrics louder than the actual Sonics Proportional Point Source loudspeaker system found in IMAX theaters. But if you want to see another concert movie where the audience overpowers the musical act, then Rush in Rio is the stadium show that you want to bring into your living room for a listening party.

Released two decades ago, the concert movie Rush in Rio is one of the best of its kind.

Rush in Rio can be found streaming for free on YouTube, but if you’re one for physical media, the actual DVD set comes with strong recommendation, and also features an excellent documentary on the band that supplements the concert footage.

Rush in Rio is a return to form for Rush, who not only came out of a five-year hiatus with a new album, but also played in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the first time ever on the final night of their 2002 tour. When asked during the press conference that’s captured in The Boys in Brazil documentary that accompanies this concert movie, bassist and front man Geddy Lee was honest, and said that he sincerely didn’t think Rush had enough fans down there to justify a tour date, but he was glad that he was so overwhelmingly wrong.

If you’re a drummer who wants to finally figure out how to play “YYZ,” you’ll be pleased to know that you can watch the entire song performed from Neil Peart’s perspective…

But what makes this concert movie so special aside from the crowd of 40,000 Brazilian fans screaming along to Rush’s lyrics is the fact that Rush decided to end their hiatus in the first place.

concert movie
Rush in Rio (2003)

Though the interviews in this concert movie don’t touch too much on the topic out of respect for drummer Neil Peart’s privacy, most Rush fans know about the personal tragedies that forced him to exit the band indefinitely in 1997. Over the period of 10 months, Peart’s wife and daughter both tragically passed away, and he retired from Rush to grieve his tremendous loss.

During this time, he hopped on a motorcycle, and rode over 55,000 miles from Quebec to Belize, and back to Quebec while documenting his journey in a tell-all memoir entitled Ghost Rider.

Rush went on hiatus in 1997 after the death of Neil Peart’s daughter Selena in a car crash. Peart’s wife Jacqueline succumbed to cancer the following year.

Ghost Rider, and Neil Peart’s coming to terms with his personal tragedies eventually led to the writing and production of Vapor Trails, Rush’s 2002 comeback album. So the triumph witnessed in Rush in Rio is two-fold: Rush put out new music, and they filmed an epic DVD at the final stop of the lengthy tour that promoted the album.

What makes this concert movie so special to Rush fans is that over the course of a nearly three-hour performance, Rush spanned their career up to that point, playing their fan favorites like “Tom Sawyer,” and prog-rock instrumental masterpieces like “La Villa Strangiato.”

concert movie
Rush in Rio (2003)

We get pummeled with Neil Peart’s double-bass chops with songs from Vapor Trails like “One Little Victory” that show us that these dad-rockers may have taken some time off, but still know how to shred. Speaking of shredding, Alex Lifeson’s guitar playing is top notch throughout the entire performance, further illuminating the fact that he’s a superior performer and player compared to many of his contemporaries.

The set design for this concert movie is not without humor either. From the CGI rapping skeleton breakdown found in “Roll the Bones,” to the fact that Geddy Lee doesn’t have bass amps on stage, but rather three coin-operated Maytag dryers behind him as if they were half-stacks, there are plenty of visual treats that make Rush in Rio a must watch for anybody who needs a solid concert movie full of superior musicianship, and endless creativity.

Though you can stream this concert movie on demand, we strongly recommend the DVD version for the iconic camera work. If you’re a drummer who wants to finally figure out how to play “YYZ,” you’ll be pleased to know that you can watch the entire song performed from Neil Peart’s perspective if you’re still trying to crack the complex code of para-diddles and syncopated ride cymbal patterns.

Of all the concert movies out there, and there are plenty, Rush in Rio deserves to be in your collection. The performance of the trio is flawless, the audience participation will give Swifties a run for their money, and the documentary provides an exceptional amount of insight into the lives of Rush during their Vapor rails tour. Rush in Rio is a significant milestone for the band, and when played on the right sound system, this concert movie will transport you straight from your living room to Rio de Janeiro in a way that makes you feel like you’re singing along with the crowd.