One thing about Rush fans is that they crave more from the band, and the band is more than happy to fulfill that request. Case in point is the long awaited film, “Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage” – the 106-minute movie that chronicles the band’s history from local Toronto high school and bar band, to the world’s biggest cult act.
The film, produced and directed by Scott McFadyen and Sam Dunn, is novel for the access they had to band, the archival footage of the band’s early years, and key people in Rush’s career. The strength of this documentary is how much the of the early years is covered in exhaustive detail. From their difficulty in getting a record deal (a common tale for many ‘o bands), to being catapulted into A-list shows after hiring Neil Peart as their new drummer, to the lyrical and musical overreach with their album Caress of Steel. It’s all here in glorious detail from the band’s perspective.
What most fans of the band know is that with 2112, the album that was middle finger salute to the record company demanding a more commercial sound, Rush finally connected with their audience in a way that made them untouchable to the meddling of the suits. In other words, with 2112 selling millions of copies, Rush finally became bankable and thus able to chart their own musical course with both long form and more compact albums – like the perennial favorite, Moving Pictures.
While the documentary is quite good at presenting the details of their early and middle years of their career, the film falls short in exploring the years that divides many Rush fans: the “synth” years in the ‘80s. The filmmakers (probably owning to time constraints) weren’t able to go into detail on albums like Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows, Hold Your Fire, or even Presto, nor did they focus on Vapor Trials or Snakes and Arrows all that much. What they did focus on was the fawning commentary from artists like Billy Corgan, Jack Black, Sebastian Bach, and even Les Claypool. After a half hour of hearing how great Rush is, I was muttering at the TV, “Okay, I get it! You love the band. Do I really need to hear it every 10 minutes?”
Still, these are just a few quibbles in an otherwise great DVD. And in keeping with giving fans more, the filmmakers include a bonus disc that has a number of live performances, expanded interviews, and even a dinner with the boys that shows what a bunch of goofs they are. As a gift for any serious music fan, this DVD is a must to put on your gift list. (Zoe Records 2010)