Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage
aaamusic | On 30, May 2010
Finally the time has come for Rush to get the broader media recognition they deserve. It took way too long, but they’re patient fellas. And way too talented to care too much about what the cool media of the time says about them (that is, if they get mentioned).
So it took the guts of Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn to eventually have a documentary about one of the most successful bands in rock history, the band who rank third for the number of gold and platinum awards collected during their career (yep, just after The Beatles and The Rolling Stones – are you surprised?), the band who, after all these years, still approaches music as a form of art and truly enjoys every bit of it.
But now let’s talk about the documentary. Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage is a journey at the centre of Rush world, and it starts at the very beginning, with an insight of their personal background. Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson shared the background as Holocaust survivors’ sons, modest income and ambitions. The turning point is when they both ask their parents for a guitar. Neil Peart had slightly better luck, although just like Geddy and Alex felt out of place and drown himself in reading, a passion which will accompany his life. He then moved to drums and never really looked back.
Geddy and Alex met at school and, alongside John Rutsey (the first drummer) started to play the Canadian school circuit until they eventually find a manager. The first gig they played is dated September 1967 in a church. The turning point is in 1971, when a radio station in Cleveland plugs their record and bam, the phenomena starts. Before they knew it they were signed and started to tour. Sadly, around this time (1974), the drummer John Rutsey had to leave for health reasons, and the band started to look for a new drummer. This is when ”the new guy” came along. Neil Peart was already quite popular in his circuit, yet when Gary and Alex saw him the first time though it wouldn’t be right. But when he started to play… well, you know the rest of the story, ”the new guy” came on board.
The documentary is divided into chapters, each of which defining a specific period of time/relevant moment in Rush history. Filled with footage from the early 70s and 80s, it features commentary from hugely successful acts who have appointed the band as one of their main influences. Among those there are commentaries from Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlain, Gene Simmons, Trent Reznor, Sebastian Bach (possibly the funniest comments are his), Kirk Hammett, Taylor Hawkins, Kiss, Dream Theatre, Rage Against The Machine, Jack Black and many, many more.
More than a celebration of the talent of the band, it is an interpersonal journey which analyzes the things that count the most: friendship, respect and, ça va sans dir, music. This is a funny and sad rollercoast trip on down to earth human beings who have decided to do things their way regardless of what was in fashion in a given period of time, caring merely about their freedom as artists and their friendship.
Just as any normal life, the documentary digs into personal crisis of them, in particular the tragedies that hit Neil, what happened and how, as a phoenix, he rose again. Emotions are so transparent (Alex and Geddy still get emotional when talking about this) that you will also shed a tear. It’s not drama for drama’s sake, it’s the purest expression of life, with it ups and downs and how they affect every human being.
A memorable part is when they gamble their future career with the album 2112: they risked to be dropped but refused to commit with the label and deliver something more commercial. The result? They won. Fans all over the world loved it and still do, as the album is recognized as one of the most beautiful and important ones in rock history. From that point on, there was no turning back, and they had all the creative freedom they could wish for (mind you, it was an achievement back then, I feel it is even more now).
The band still goes on extensive sold out tours after 24 records, their audience is made of hard core fans who have been there from the very beginning and youngster generations, who discovered them through their parents. So the question is, why didn’t they get the media coverage and glory they should have had and truly deserve? Well, I guess their will to follow their own rules has somehow backfired at them in terms of getting their name broadly out there. Thank goodness our parents didn’t need internet to get to know great music, as word of mouth did the job pretty well, and Rush went on to become one of the most talented and biggest bands in history, certainly the biggest to come out from Canada, and influenced quite a few of successful artists as well. As per them, they do not seem to care much about not being to much on the eye of the media, they’re too concentrated creating art and cultivating their friendship.
Truly beautiful little gem, absolute stunning documentary. I totally recommend getting out there and get yourself their discography in case you are not familiar with them, and, more important, to go to the UK screening on June 7th:
Aberdeen Cineworld Aberdeen Union Square
Altrincham Apollo Altrincham
Barrow-in-Furness Apollo Barrow-in-Furness
Basildon Empire Basildon
Basingstoke Odeon Basingstoke
Birmingham Cineworld Birmingham Broad St
Burnley Apollo Burnley
Cardiff Odeon Cardiff
Carmarthen Apollo Carmarthen
Colchester Odeon Colchester
Coventry Odeon Coventry
Edinburgh Cineworld Edinburgh
Fareham Apollo Fareham
Gateshead Odeon Metrocentre (Gateshead)
Glasgow Cineworld Glasgow Renfrew St
High Wycombe Empire High Wycombe
Kilmarnock Odeon Kilmarnock
Leamington Spa Apollo Leamington Spa
Liverpool Odeon Liverpool ONE
London Empire Leicester Square
Odeon Covent Garden
Apollo Piccadilly Circus
Manchester Odeon Manchester
Odeon Manchester Trafford Centre
Paignton Apollo Torbay
Poole Empire Poole
Redditch Apollo Redditch
Sheffield Cineworld Sheffield
Southampton Odeon Southampton
Stroud Apollo Stroud
Swindon Empire Swindon
Tyne and Wear Odeon Newcastle Silverlink
Dublin Cineworld Dublin