Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage

Rush, the ultimate power trio band and premier of all progressive rock bands. 3 gentlemen who are masters of their instruments and revered by musicians all over the world. A band who haven’t been given their due in terms of recognition and in some albums, record sales. Yet they play large stadiums and constantly sell out world tours. We have rock stars, past & present, who praise the band. We have fans who have grown with the band, bought every album, try to attend every show that is in their vicinity over the years & decades. And we have fans like me – converted into one when I was 16 and heard my first Rush album and 18 years later still a fanatic.

Rush have had a recent surge in popularity & acceptance fueled no doubt by their last 3 world tours, cameo & theme in the movie I Love You, Man and appearances on live tv. The time was ripe for a good documentary about the 3 men who form Rush and so rock & metal documentary filmmakers & fellow Canadians Scott McFayden & Sam Dunn decided to honour Rush and create Rush : Beyond The Lighted Stage. The film offers an in-depth look at the Canadian progressive rock band Rush, chronicling the band’s musical evolution from their progressive rock sound of the ’70s to their current heavy rock style. The film made its debut at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, where it earned the 2010 Audience Award.

The rockumentary follows the lives of Lifeson, Lee & Peart from their childhood and there is an impressive amount of old footage from their kiddie days. Family videos and photographs and interviews with their parents. The balance of the talking and the music is just right, and I love how they would show some of the original lyric drafts during many of the songs. You have lots of live concert clips inter-spaced within the dialogues. What will stand out most was the genuine friendship and love these guys have for each other.  Also how willing they were to make fun of themselves – it was a very open, honest look inside.  The bad critical reviews, the horrible fashion sense, the (unfortunate?) synthesizer era, the geek/nerd perceptions were all there with no sense of defensiveness.

What most rock fans will also love is the very genuine & honest endorsement & what seemed to me to me as fan worship by celebrities & rock stars like Mike Petrucci (Dream Theatre), Sebastian Bach, Kirk Hammett (Metallica). Jimmy Chamberlin & Billy Corgan (the Smashing Pumpkins), Vinnie Paul (former Damage Plan & Pantera), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Gene Simmons (Kiss), Les Claypool (Primus), Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) & actor musician Jack Black. These guys are really vocal about their praise & adoration for Rush. John Rutsey, the band’s original drummer, died in 2008; tape-recorded comments from him are incorporated into the film, which was cool & nice and also a tribute to him.

Rush’s defiance of norms and sticking to their guns approach also shines through. They never jumped on any bandwagon, choosing to create their own path. They sound like no other band, even though they have been very vocal about their influences. And no one sounds like them, even though many bands & musicians have been very vocal about being influenced by Rush! Non-musicians like Matt Stone (creator of South Park), former MuchMusic anchor & current CNN anchor J D Roberts also talk about the band that they have followed throughout the years. The interviews with Geddy’s mom & Alex’s mom is also touching, as well as seeing old home videos of the band and Alex telling his family that he wants to quit school to focus on the band full time.

We hear Neil talk about his introverted personality and not being able to handle the fame that goes along with being 1/3 of Rush and one of the most revered drummers of all time. We also see the more personal side of him that came along with the crisis – the major crisis, well-known to fans, almost ended Rush. Neil experienced devastating personal loss when his teenage daughter died in a car accident, followed not long after by his wife succumbing to cancer. When Peart talks about his ensuing sabbatical on the back of a motorcylce, it’s the most moving part of the picture and the only part of the film in which he seems to open up. But we also see how Alex & Geddy waited & welcomed him back and then moved on. That warm human element is what stands out the most.

Exit the warrior, enjoy the video.

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