Re: Neil Peart
Michael, I know you are an uber-fan of NP and Rush which is fine. I don't want to mess with that - it's your personal taste.
But just one bit food for thought: If you went to a Rush concert and NP actually did play things differently from the records, including grooves and fills. Do you as the NP fan that you are honestly think that would have been a worse concert for that reason, even if NP would have played the new stuff in his very own vibe (perfect execution, trademark grooves/fills but maybe played a little different or at different spots)? Or would you maybe walk out of that concert thinking it was the greatest event ever because it surprised you and moved you in a different way than you had expected it?
I have the slight impression that you've become such an extreme fan of NP and (probably due to many discussions on the internet) maybe a bit overly defensive, so when it comes to any kind of discussion about him, you automatically stand behind what Neil does. I guess that if Neil was famous for delivering perfect studio tracks but changing these live with his sense of moments, you'd now be defending that against people who would say: "I'd prefer him to play everything exactly like it is recorded".
This is really not meant to pick on you, just as I said: Food for thought.
One more point: I honestly don't think you can compare painting to musicmaking. You could probably compare action-painting (where the act of painting itself becomes the piece of art) to the act of making music and compare a finished, static painting to a recording. But comparing a static painting to an act of making music doesn't really work in my book.
Lastly, to throw in my own two cents: I am not a fan of a 1:1 reproduction of music on stage - I could instead just listen to a record instead. I prefer "revisiting" songs live... you know: Play all the things that are important to the song (which will really force you to think about what actually is important to a particular song and of course I know that in the case of Rush, many people will say "every note on the record played by Neil is important to the song") but leave maybe a little room to surprise the audience or even to surprise yourself on stage. I'd say that most of my favourite moments in concerts (both on stage and in the audience) were these moments, were things happen that no one would have expected to happen.
Anyway, interesting points in this thread.