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Rush

Beyond The Lighted Stage DVD

Review by Greg Olma

If you have been a Rush fan like me, you probably were hoping that someday, VH1 would come out with a “Behind The Music” on them.  The band has been not only been around for over 30 years (with the same three members) but they have been hugely influential to many in the rock world today.  When I heard that the creators of Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey were tackling this project, I breathed a sigh or relief.  Not only was one of my favorite bands going to get a documentary but based on their previous efforts (these guys also did Global Metal and Iron Maiden: Flight 666 – The Movie), it was going to be better than anything VH1 could come up with.

This 2 DVD set is, to put it crudely, a Rush fan’s wet dream.  Disc one is the movie that was shown in theaters around the globe, and if that was all that was given, it would have been enough.  Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen essentially help Geddy Lee and the boys (along with their parents) tell their story about how they went from childhood friends to being in a band that always played by their own rules.  I think they even wrote some of those rules.  Their story is told with old footage and pictures that none have ever seen.  The story is that Geddy Lee is the archiver in the band and he let the directors go through his treasure trove of pictures and memorabilia to give visuals to the words being spoken.  While this story unfolds, it is also peppered with testimonials from some of the biggest names in rock and how they first got into the band.  We get to hear stories about the early years of playing dances all the way to playing to a huge crowd in Rio.  Even the camera shy Neil Peart spends a considerable amount of time telling us his side of the story.  It would not be a true documentary if it did not touch upon the tragedy of Peart’s personal life with the loss of his daughter and wife within one year but the directors handle this section of the story with care and respect.  The one thing that this movie shows more that anything is that this band takes themselves far less seriously that its fans do.  Alex Lifeson has always come across with a having a good sense of humor (just look through some of their older tour books) but Beyond The Lighted Stage shows the others as having that same sense of humor that helps keep things together.  Like I mentioned before, if all that was released was the movie on disc 1, then all the Rush fans would walk away happy.

The bonus disc is quite generous with extras that include additional footage that did not make it into the movie along with live clips from multiple eras.  The additional footage not included in movie is broken into short segments that cover such topics like the Hemispheres record and their fashion sense in the 70’s.  There are 2 items on this bonus disc that every Rush fan will drool over.  First, you get a live performance of “Best I Can” and “Working Man” from the spring of 1974 with original drummer John Rutsey.  I never even knew this recording existed and now it is out there for all to enjoy.  The other gem is footage of the guys having dinner in a hunting lodge.  It is filmed as though you are the fourth person at the table and it really show just a bunch of down to earth, funny guys having a good time hanging out with each other. 

I highly recommend this DVD set to not only Rush fans but to people who enjoy documentaries on rock bands.  Dunn and McFadyen have done great work in the past and this release is just another gold star on their already impressive resume.  This movie goes beyond being a long music video.  It gives the story of three friends who have changed the face of music and did it on their own terms.  Through it all, they made us feel like we were a part of something special.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

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