Monday, June 28, 2010

Movie Review - Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage

I took my loving, patient wife on a date night to see the new Rush documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage. Well, it was actually her suggestion and we have seen Rush a couple of times live, so I knew it was not going to end with a train wreck.

I have read just about every bio on Rush, seen all the DVDs, read all of Neil’s books etc, so my question was, am I going to learn anything new? I did glean a few new nuggets such as Alex Lifeson’s opinion on the keyboard-laden late 80s albums, or Rush’s work with Kevin Caveman Shirley on Counterparts, and why that album is so heavy.

But overall if you are a big long-time Rush fan, there is not a lot of new stuff, bio-wise. However, there are loads and loads of live performance clips, photos and interviews from back in the day that I had never seen. I mean, how did they get a film of Lifeson telling his parents he did not see why he needed to finish high school to pursue a life in music?And who are all those other people in that scene? It looks like an intervention!

The film does an excellent job presenting how the band came together, the bond between Lee and Lifeson, how they all overcame great challenges to stay true to their vision, and how they keep reinventing themselves as a band, to this day.

The new interviews with all three guys are great, especially the Neil interviews, which are very informative and telling. For a guy who is pretty much a recluse, he really opens up in the film.

Some of my favorite moments are the interviews with people who admire Rush, including a couple of very articulate life-long fans, Jack Black (yes Jack Black) and Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins who makes a great case for why Rush is one of the best bands in history despite the fact that they are always marginalized by the powers that be who hold the keys to institutions such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

One of the musicians interviewed said something along the lines of, it was way back in the 70s and 80s when it was fashionable to not like Rush but that was a long time ago, and they are still around, selling out arenas year after year – you need to get over it and if still don’t like/respect them now, you are just being an old dickhead. Nice.

The one time the filmmakers show the whole band together (offstage at least) is in the rolling credits where the three are having wine in a restaurant and are clearly lit up a bit. They throw jokes back and forth across the table and are clearly really enjoying each other’s company. One would be lucky to have friends as close as these guys are, much less make fucking awesome music together and sell 40 million albums worldwide.

Great job, filmmakers, for allowing us into that private world to see a little bit about what makes one of our favorite bands tick. I DVR’d the film off of VH1 so I can watch it again until I buy the DVD when it comes out June 29. It's just that good.


Dr. John said...

Saw the film on VH1 myself (missed the first 30 minutes) but thought it was pretty awesome. I was amazed to see the clips of Geddy in the 70's and how close to death he looked, compared to how he looks now. I loved the story about 2112 and how the record company was trying to get them to sell out and they said f*&# it and did what they wanted. If that's not the essence of rock and roll, I don't know what is. Can't wait to get the DVD and see all the bonus clips.

Chris said...

I picked up my copy yesterday on the strength of your review. I'm looking forward to watching it!

Dr. John said...

I also liked the part where Geddy gets asked for an autograph and Alex goes completely unnoticed.

David said...

The clip of the teenage Lifeson arguing with his parents was brilliant. I especially liked how he said he didn't see why you would want to drive around in fancy cars - which he seemed to think was an inevitable result of going to college! And look at him now... oh the irony!

I think I read somewhere that the clip was from a reality TV style programme that didn't come to fruition but I can't remember where I read it.