The first half of the double-disc Rush DVD R30 contains a complete two-hour concert from last year's 30th-anniversary tour, which found the Canadian power trio storming through a set list of career highlights. But Rush fans and dabblers alike should be more excited about the set's second disc, which scours the vaults for rare promotional interviews and live performances dating back to the '70s. As a performing entity, Rush is as powerful as ever, but as a rock icon, it's best experienced in memory, as part of a mythical big-arena show from decades ago, cloaked in hard-rock danger and intellectual adventure. The deluxe edition of R30 comes packaged with a live CD, two guitar picks, and a replica backstage pass, but it should've included a beer-stained Moving Pictures T-shirt.
The offbeat, unauthorized Queen DVD Under Review offers a lengthy biography and critical analysis of the band, supported with clips from BBC performances. The talking heads are intermittently insightful, but after a while, the structure of Under Review becomes inadvertently hilarious, as another abbreviated clip of live Queen—just short enough to qualify under "fair use" standards—fades away, replaced by some doughy white guy yammering about the blues foundations of "Keep Yourself Alive." Winter coats come less padded than this documentary. Still, Queen at its peak was the quintessential arena-rock band, filling amphitheaters with operatic pretension, and Under Review is compelling enough to whet the appetite for an official BBC Queen DVD.
While Queen and Rush represent the epic and artful side of the mega-corporate AOR era, Journey was perhaps the best of the working-class arena-fillers, in spite of its roots as a ponderous Bay Area prog band. The Live In Houston 1981 DVD contains a full 80-minute concert, recorded long ago for the then-fledgling MTV. As always with Journey, the sight of five music-theory majors rocking out in muscle-Ts remains ludicrous, but also as always, the songs are so solidly built that they survive Steve Perry's sexless strutting and habitual dropping of the word "Houston" between lyrics. The disc captures a kind of golden age, when rock stars rolled through town and galvanized suburban teens, explaining their hopes and dreams to them, with at least two encores.