Album Reviews

Issue 2010-045: Rush - Beyond The Lighted Stage [DVD] - Round Table Review

Round Table Review

Rush – Beyond The Lighted Stage [DVD]

Rush – Beyond The Lighted Stage [DVD]
Country of Origin:Canada
Record Label:Atlantic Records
Catalogue #:B003N1I3IY
Year of Release:2010
Encoding & SoundDolby 2.0 (Stereo)
Dolby (5.1)


Disc One: Start, The Suburbs, Finding Our Way, The New Guy, Assuming Control, Terminally Unhip, Drinking the Milk Of Paradise, Making Modern Music, The Gilded Cage, New World Men, The Yoda Of Drums, Ghost Rider, The Return, Revenge Of The Nerds, End Credits

Disc Two ~ Bonus Features: Being Bullied And The Search For The First Gig, Reflections On Hemispheres, Presto And Roll The Bones Rap, The Rush Fashion, Hobbies On The Road, Rush Trekkies, Pre Gig Warm Up, "Best I Can" With John Rutsey - Laura Secord SS (Spring 1974), "Working Man" With John Rutsey - Laura Secord SS (Spring 1974), "La Villa Strangiato" - Pinkpop (1979), "Between The Sun And Moon" - Live At Hartford (June 28th 2002), Dinner With Rush At A Hunting Lodge, "Far Cry" (from the Snakes & Arrows Tour), "Entre Nous" (from The Snakes & Arrows Tour), "Bravado" (from the R30 Tour), "YYZ" (from the R30 Tour)

Jez Rowden's Review


Have you ever had even a passing interest in this legendary Canadian band? No? It doesn’t matter; just get to see this DVD anyway. It IS that good and for a long time Rush fan like myself it’s akin to discovering the Holy Grail. There is one major failing however – at a mere 3 hours+ it’s just too damn short! Some things are skimmed over pretty quickly but without stretching the limits of credibility you can’t really argue it. Honestly, this is brilliant! That’s the review done, I’m off to watch the DVD again.


So what do you get for your 3 hours glued to the telly?

  • Many, many, many tantalising glimpses of long forgotten TV appearances and live shows from tours you never thought you’d see.
  • The chance to see the band with John Rutsey ripping up a storm in front of a confused looking bunch of kids.
  • How the band took off and why Rutsey left.
  • Alex Lifeson as a teenager arguing with his parents about the merits of a life in music.
  • The guys meeting in a restaurant, getting quietly drunk and have a damn good stupid laugh.
  • Footage of Neil with his pre Rush band J.R.Flood.
  • Back stage pre-gig footage.
  • Lots of goofing around – mostly involving Alex!
  • A candid insight into Neil’s double tragedy and his gradual return to the kit.
  • Alex giving Geddy the “thing” he ordered and Lee asking for the camera to be turned off while he uses it.
  • The tricky search for the venue of their first ever gig.
  • “Glee” describing life on the road with U.F.O.
  • Geddy being asked for his autograph in a coffee shop while Alex is ignored.
  • Neil seemingly enjoying being interviewed for this project but discussing his embarrassment regarding fame and recognition.
  • Gene Simmons being anything other than a tool.

It’s all here and more and if that isn’t enough to get you excited I don’t know what is.

The interviewees are sometimes surprising but always enjoyable – with the possible exception of Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) who is just a very strange, er, man. Elsewhere we hear from the likes of Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), actor Jack Black, Les Claypool (Primus), Kim Mitchell (Max Webster), manager Ray Daniels, producers Terry Brown, Rupert Hine and Paul Collins. Most of the comments are considered and thought provoking, particularly those of Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins). Directors Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn, who previously produced the Iron Maiden documentary Flight 666, have assembled this loving tribute with great care and most fans will find something within that they did not know and almost everyone will be treated to Rush related sights they had never even dreamed of.

The family history, interviews with parents and background of how they got into music is fascinating and adds to the perception of Rush as individuals. It is their very humanity and ordinariness that makes them even more special. There are those that say that it blows the mystique of a band that generations have discovered and cherished. This is nonsense: they have always been just a bunch of guys who take pride and pleasure in what they do and this makes them even more appealing because of the obviously close relationship that they share. Alex and Geddy are more like brothers than work colleagues and even the more aloof Neil is clearly an equal member of the team – even though they still refer to him as the new guy! All share a very close bond and genuinely care for each other.

The Rutsey footage is a joy to see and clearly he was integral to the band’s early sound. It is easy to think of him as an also ran who was quickly replaced by the more talented Peart but he gets a lot more credit than that in this film. I certainly never expected to see him doing the band introductions! Couple this with the revelatory extracts from a 1973 documentary featuring Alex that explored the hopes and fears of kids growing up in the Toronto suburbs and you get a fascinating picture of the early band.

Things start to move faster as the band takes off and A Farewell To Kings is not mentioned by name in the main feature. It is interesting to hear the inside story of the ‘80s as a transitional era for the band and their return to their roots at the turn of the ‘90s but again Roll The Bones is relegated in importance due to time constraints. Many of the omissions are made up during the extra footage on the second disc and overall this is all fine by me. There are more riches than I deserve and I am in no position to complain; it’s all good.

I’m not even going to consider the quality of the audio and visuals. From where I was sitting it was fine. The content just blew me away and as long as I could see it and hear it I was enthralled. Without a doubt the best rockumentary I’ve ever seen by a Country Road.

This band is a bye word for integrity and this comes across throughout. After surviving the tricky early days they did their own thing from 2112 on and never looked back. If only all bands could make it this way.

Hector Gomez's Review

The world of rock is a better place to be if Scott McFadyen and Sam Dunn are around. Last year’s Flight 666, illustrating Iron Maiden’s hugely ambitious “Somewhere Back In Time” World Tour, was certainly both a critical and commercial success. I definitely loved it.

To say Beyond The Lighted Stage is even better gives an idea of what both directors have achieved in this wonderful piece of rock history, past present and future. The best thing I can say, and to put it in a nutshell, is that if you dig Rush you’ll love this, and if you don’t, you’ll like it too.

The legendary trio is my favourite band of all time, but you don’t need to be a fanboy to enjoy the odyssey of three Canadian kids which came from the suburbs and achieved cult superstardom (that’s the miraculous contradiction in this band). If you’ve followed Rush through the years, you already know they’re just three incredibly talented musicians living for their music, always avoiding the clichéd star behaviour and the predictable sex, drugs & rock’n’roll way of life. It’s never been about the groupies, the big parties, the smashed hotel rooms. The “Hobbies On The Road” section is quite illustrative about this, as you can see band members playing golf (as Maiden did), reading or even collecting baseball memorabilia. Again, not that we devoted fans didn’t know it, but it’s revealing to actually witness Lee, Lifeson and Peart in their element, and it can come as a surprise for anyone who doesn’t know or care about the band.

The documentary focuses mainly on the both the historic and personal portrait of the band, showing it from inside but also giving plenty of room to external points of view. This way then, the history of the band is detailed from Lee and Lifeson’s childhood in the suburbs of Toronto, fighting their way up to a musical career through endless arguments with their parents (there’s amazing footage of a teenager Lerxst telling their parents he wants to quit school) as well as trying to find their place in the world both being “outcasts”. You’ll get the chance to meet Geddy’s mum, as well as Alex’s, and take a trip to their school, to the dodgy joints where they played their first gigs…

As the band progresses, new faces come up. Meet Donna Halper, who was vital in her role of some sort of sponsor/protector as she backed their first album when no one else did. Meet Ray Danniels, their (still) hard working manager. Meet Terry Brown, the legendary producer who had the vision to take their music from great to brilliant.

And meet the unique, irreplaceable Neil Peart, who is introduced in the revealingly titled chapter “The New Guy”. In fact, half jokingly Lee and Lifeson still refer to the legendary drummer as, well, “the new guy”, and in some kind of twisted logic he still is (John Rutsey R.I.P. was there before, after all). His parents also appear on the film, and are again proof of the wonderful sincerity and candidness that runs throughout the documentary. In the end, they’re just two normal Canadians, who used to sell farm implements and happen to be parents of one of the greatest talents in modern music the world has seen.

That’s the secret of this band, and of this documentary for that matter: even if their music is brilliant, loud, complex and unique, the band and everyone around them remain regular people, far from eccentricities and outrageous personalities, discussing their successes (2112, Moving Pictures) with reasonable humbleness, and accepting their probable mistakes (the Caress Of Steel album, the excess of keyboards I the mid 80’s…the Roll The Bones Rap…) with a smile on their faces. Ever heard of work ethics in rock music?

From the outside, from a fan’s point of view, there’s plenty of devoted confessions from celebrities such as the predictable Mike Portnoy or Metallica’s Kirk Hammet to more unexpected names, namely Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan and Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor. Maybe here’s where pure music aspects are discussed, where everyone praises the trio’s chops and audacity, but that’s pretty much about it. There are not many rants about vintage gear or flashy time signatures; there’s more room to laugh about 70’s weird fashion (remember those robes?).

The “dark side” (if we can call it as such) of the band and the phenomenon around it is well represented in the “Rush Trekkies” chapter, where we get the chance to virtually attend Rush Con, where obsessed fans gather to share their madness. Don’t get me wrong, I fully respect everything they do, and I kinda understand them because I love the band as much as they do, but watching them all together inside their “Rush Bubble” felt somewhat wrong and a bit distressing…

The “bright side”, and undoubtedly for me the highlight of the DVD, is the “Dinner With Rush At A Hunting Lodge” episode, which is pure genius and I believe the five minutes of the documentary which will be most talked about and fondly remembered. I won’t spoil anything, let me just say it is Rush around a lovely dinner table, lots of laughs… and a dozen of wine bottles…

Sense of humour is, I understand and appreciate, the most important and distinctive facet of this great band, and this chapter perfectly encapsulates the unpretentiousness but sheer intelligence of this trio of gifted artists.

This is already a classic.

Dave Baird's Review

It's scary to think that I've been a Rush fan for nearly 30 years now, I've bought every album on release day since Signals and have seen them live seven times, the first being on the New World Tour (Birmingham NEC 1983, my first gig ever actually, not a bad way to begin). I owned a black Rickenbacker 4001 for many years, playing along with their records in my bedroom and later cover-versions with my mates, even as recently as last year I was trying to get one of my current bands to do a version of YYZ... So it's perhaps shocking that I knew so little about the band, its history while sort of well-charted was nevertheless vague, the band members somewhat enigmatic. So fair to say that I was really looking forward to this documentary to shed light on the band that I regards as 'the soundtrack to my youth'. It's worth noting that I watched this together with my wife - she's not at all into prog and doesn't even recognise The Spirit Of Radio when I play it to her...

The documentary is well put together and of course is presented in a logical, chronological sequence from the early days when they got together at school to the last CD release, Snakes & Arrows. I didn't time it, but I got the impression that a lot more time was given to the early years when they were playing local church basements and trying to break through. There's a lot of time given to John Rutsey's contribution to the band and some great footage of an early televised performance in front of what seems to be an audience of twelve-year olds. Two songs from this show (Best I Can and Working Man are represented in full on the second DVD Deleted Scenes). I appreciated this very much, John was a decent drummer and came across in the footage as the mouthpiece of the band and a really open and friendly guy. He clearly played his part in Rush's early success in Canada and they were already playing very solidly back in the early 70's. We get some great interviews with Geddy and Alex's mothers and a host of musicians trotting out their love for the band. Some of this is a bit too much back-slapping for me and not really relevant - a lot of time is given to Jack Black and Billy Corgan - I mean who cares if they like Rush, I like Rush, so what? What's more interesting are the reminiscences of the people who were there at the time, Gene Simmons from Kiss in particular has some great stories, as does Max Webster's Kim Mitchell and their long-time manager Ray Daniels. There are no stories of drugs, dirty women, alcohol abuse or anything like that though, Rush prefer to go to bed early and with a good book and cup of warm milk.

Aside of course from the basic history we want to get to know the band members and in this respect the film really delivers. Alex we always knew as the joker, but really, he never stops! Geddy's a complete nerd with his baseball collection and Neil, well he's Neil, a special guy who talks just a little too fast for comfort. Perhaps even more interesting is the relationship between the three, there can't be many bands that have been together for so long with the same three guys. What's clear, and very touching, is the friendship, respect and love between them, especially Geddy and Alex. Neil's still referred to as the "new guy" and it's great to watch the long scene on the second disc where they're eating a meal together - Neil's just laughing non-stop, for four hours! Rush are tremendously normal people who just happen to have made it big in their own special way, and this comes across very well.

There are plenty of musical interludes, embarrassing clothes, bad videos and rabid fans - this I find rather reassuring to see that there are others in the world like me - I suspect many, many more than we may think judging by the huge sales and massive venues Rush have enjoyed for years. The picture and sound quality are good and the editing is done well. I would have preferred a bit more detail at times, perhaps more commentary on the music and writing/recording processes. In fact there is more if you watch the whole of the second disc, but is disparately presented, I would actually have liked to see all this stuff cut into the main film with an extra 45 minutes running time. But this is small complaint, it's so wonderful to see so much that I wasn't aware of. I missed also contributions from the wives, would have been nice to have them perhaps revealing something about their famous husbands.

So for myself, a long-time mega-fan, this is an absolute non-brainer, must-have artefact and I would suggest the same for the other legions of the converted, but what of the rest, well what did my wife think of it? Actually she loved it and found it very interesting. To be fair she likes biographical documentaries and "people stories", so it was in her ball-park. She said they came across as staggeringly normal, genuinely funny and nice guys. She even said that the "music bits were OK" - there's hope for her yet!

Un-rateable though - from 10 to 1 depending on your interest in the band really....

Tom De Val's Review

On the face of it, Rush are not the most likely of bands to be chosen for a feature documentary, and one initially released in cinemas to boot. There’s very little of the standard ‘sex and drugs and rock n’ roll’ about their story (OK you could argue the last one – though it’s hardly a mainstream kind of rock n’ roll!). Rush, as any of their devoted fans could tell you, are all about the music. Therefore, at the most you’d have thought this would be an interesting film for a particular niche – the Rush fanatic. Yet in the skilled hands of Scott McFadyen and Sam Dunn (who’ve already made the excellent docs Metal – A Headbanger’s Journey and Iron Maiden: Flight 666), this turns out to be an extremely entertaining and well made film which will satisfy both those fans and the more casual listener who has heard Spirit of Radio on a classic rock station, say, but knows little else about the band.

Told broadly chronologically, the film traces the band’s routes from young suburban kids playing the Toronto high school circuit through to the tour of the band’s latest album to date, Snakes And Arrows. Some of the archive footage unearthed is fascinating, including a gig at one of aforementioned high schools (where somewhat surprisingly original drummer John Rutsey appears to be the main spokesman for the band), and an early example of ‘fly on the wall’ TV which shows a sullen teenage Alex Lifeson giving his parents the old ‘ I don’t want to be a 9-5 office worker – I want to rock!’ line. The story is particularly strong on the mid-70’s to early 80’s, with the band’s transition from the ‘difficult’ prog rock they were purveying (and failing with commercially) on 1975’s Caress Of Steel to the all-conquering Moving Pictures era of platinum albums, sell-out arena concerts and regular airplay.

As you’d expect, there’s plenty of illuminating interviews, with key players such as long-time manager Ray Danniels and the band’s former producer (from Fly By Night in 1974 through to 1982’s Signals) Terry Brown giving some informative and entertaining insights into the band. Rush themselves, meanwhile, come across as very likeable and down to earth characters, with none of the hang ups and ego’s you’d expect of ‘rock stars’. Each of the band members’ personality and role in the band comes across – Geddy Lee is the (benign and easy going) steerer of the ship, and possibly the creative leader in terms of the band’s musical direction (witness the increasing keyboard usage in the eighties); Alex Lifeson comes across as the joker of the band, and also the one who brings the hard rock edge, whilst Neil Peart appears intelligent, quiet and more introspective, but far from the ‘difficult’ person legend would have you believe. A nice section gives space for Peart to explain why he doesn’t take part in the ‘meet and greets’ with fans that Lee and Lifeson are happy to do, and his reasoning makes perfect sense – he’s not ‘snubbing’ the fans, he’s just not comfortable with those sort of situations.

The film is leavened with humour throughout – the montage of different (unflattering) descriptions of Geddy Lee’s ‘unique’ vocal style is a hoot (“a cat being chased out of the door with a blowtorch up its ass” indeed!) and the anecdote Lee tells of touring partners UFO, in the late seventies, nailing some furry slippers to the stage by his mike stand ‘to go with your robe’ is hilarious. Darker moments in the band’s history, such as the death within a year of Neal Peart’s daughter and wife and the subsequent (potentially final) break in band activity, are handled with sensitivity and poignancy.

Whilst it would be easy to continue to praise the film to the skies, in the interests of balance I feel I should say I did have a couple of niggles. The interviews with various ‘celebrity’ fans, expected on these sort of docs, are of varying quality – some of the interviewees are good and offer some interesting observations (Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Les Claypool (Primus) and – perhaps surprisingly – Billy Corgan of grunge titans Smashing Pumpkins), but a number are superfluous, and a couple plain irritating – step forward ex-Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach (shrill and near-hysterical at times) and comedian Jack Black, who is so smug and self-regarding you’d think he was the main focus of the film. Secondly, the film does seem to rush (ahem) through the 80’s and 90’s – it would be nice to have focused a little more on some of the key albums of this era, such as Power Windows and Counterparts.

In addition to an excellent film (which, despite the concerns raised above, would be completely worth purchasing on its own) you also get a number of extras. Some are vaguely interesting but of the ‘one watch only’ kind (a section on the band’s hobbies, footage from a fan convention {slightly scary}), some add meat to the bones and were clearly removed from the main film to let it flow better (more on the Hemispheres album, and a (brief) run through Presto and Roll The Bones, including an explanation for including the notorious ‘rap’ on the latter’s title track). There’s also some great in-concert footage, including a couple from a High School gig in 1974, rare footage of a 70’s performance of their signature instrumental La Villa Strangiato, and some more recent renditions of relative rarities from the Rush back catalogue (Between Sun And Moon, Entre Nous, Bravado). There’s also the priceless ‘Dinner At A Hunting Lodge’ sequence, where the trio meet and dine, drink plenty of wine, act silly and seemingly have a ball in each other’s company – great to see after all these years.

Overall, this is simply one of the best music documentaries I’ve seen. No Rush fan will want to be without this, and even if you’ve only a passing interest in the band, this is well worth an hour and forty five minutes of your time.


JEZ ROWDEN : 10 out of 10 (Rush Heads) | 8.5 out of 10 (Everyone Else)
HECTOR GOMEZ : 8.5 out of 10
DAVE BAIRD : See Review
TOM DE VAL : 9.5 out of 10

Rush - Caravan [Single]

Rush - Caravan [Single]
Country of Origin:Canada
Record Label:Atlantic Records
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2010
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Caravan (5:40), BU2B (4:21)

In a genre where the idea of releasing a single is pretty much dead, Rush continue to fly the flag with these two songs, the first new material since 2007’s Snakes And Arrows and a precursor to the full length Clockwork Angels, mooted to come out in 2011. In a nod to the modern age however, this isn’t available as physical product, instead being downloadable from the usual sources (iTunes, Play, Amazon etc).

Caravan opens up with the sounds of chiming bells and a travelling nomadic tribe – killing off the concern that the song might be about the joys of elderly couples touring around the country! An atmospheric intro leads into a sharp, rocking groove, with Alex Lifeson’s guitar well to the fore. The chorus is strongly melodic, and very catchy. A lengthy mid-song instrumental break allows each player to shine, with some complex bass patterns from Geddy Lee, Neil Peart playing seemingly every item of percussion around his expansive kit and Lifeson let loose to unleash a fiery solo. The track is well constructed but, at the same time, loose enough in feel to capture the energy and vibrancy of three guys just jamming in a room. A strong song that’s easily the equal of Snakes And Arrows standouts such as Far Cry and Spindrift.

BU2B rides in on a very raw and heavy riff, with Lee’s vocals quite soulful, before a more sinister bridge. When we eventually reach the chorus more emphasis is placed on melody, with some subtle but noticeable keyboard embellishments behind the edgy guitar work. I don’t think this is as strong as the title track, but it’s a good song nonetheless.

Overall, this shows there’s plenty of life in the band yet, and I have high hopes that Clockwork Angels will be a stronger album than its (decent) predecessor.

Conclusion: Let’s wait for the album…


Album Reviews