Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage
Directed by Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen
Starring Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart
Release date: June 7, 2010 (Europe), June 10, 2010 (US & Canada)
‘What kind of band is Rush? It’s Rush!’ – Gene Simmons
The number three plays an increasingly significant part in the world of rock music. It is the number of chords in Status Quo’s famous three-chord boogie, the amount of sixes in the number of the beast, and the brain cell count of most drummers. It is also the amount of members of mega-selling Canadian rock trio, Rush. Three also happens to be the band’s place on the list of consecutive gold- or platinum-selling albums behind The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. On June 7, 2010, selected cinemas in Europe were host to a screening of a new music documentary about the lives and careers of these Canadian rock giants. For one night only, Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage made it to the big screen. Cool, eh?
Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage recounts the band’s expansive history through home movies, TV footage, and interviews with each band member and people who have been involved in or inspired by the music — from their modest childhoods in Canada to millionaire rock stars in the world’s biggest cult band.
Rush was no overnight success. In the early days they toured relentlessly and there are some hilarious stories about the early tours with the likes of Uriah Heep and Kiss.
As the band’s fanbase grew, the critical reviews of the albums got worse. I loved how honest they were when they talked about this. No bitterness about them at all as they had the last laugh. Made up of immensely talented musicians Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and ‘the new guy’ Neil Peart, Rush has been creating heavy — and often bafflingly complex — music and lyrics together for over forty years (Peart since ’74), releasing an incredible 18 studio albums. Jack Black likens the band’s endless creative energy to a bottomless bottle of hot sauce: ‘They’ve been shaking that bottle for decades — and hot sauce is still coming out!’
More than the musicianship, what I loved most about this film is finding out how likable and normal these guys are. They talk openly, intelligently, and honestly, making for completely engaging subjects. Aside from being intelligent they are also humble, self-effacing, funny, and very interesting. (Maybe the fact they are so nice has counted against them?) As proof of how unaffected they are by fame and wealth, there is a great scene in a café where the waitress asks for a photo and a couple of autographs from the frankly impossible not to recognise Geddy Lee. As the waitress does so she completely ignores Alex Lifeson sat right next to him! Even when Lee says, ‘Don’t you want his autograph? He’s the leader of the group!’ the waitress laughs off Lee’s suggestion and walks away. Lifeson also laughs it off, dealing with it very gracefully as he eats his lunch.
Existing Rush fans will love this film. But it really doesn’t matter if you’re a Rush fan or not — directors Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen (both Iron Maiden: Flight 666 and Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey) tell a good story about a great band. This is a comprehensive, celebratory look at the lives and careers of one of rocks biggest names, and I loved it. If you are not familiar with Rush going in to it, the first thought in your head after the credits roll will probably be ‘I need to buy some rush albums’. Even if you didn’t like the music, you will still like the people who made it.
Fans of Rush will be listening for the brilliant soundtrack, smiling and tapping their feet with every new track played. Thanks to its huge popularity but owing much to its cult setting, Rush is already in everybody’s subconscious, just most people don’t realise they’re there. Newcomers will be saying of the music, ‘I love this song — I didn’t know it was Rush!’ The recent songs and live footage is concrete proof that the guys in Rush have still got ‘it’ and show no signs of stopping.
The documentary was released on June 10 for one day only in America and Canada, so if you didn’t get out to see it, it comes to DVD later this month. If you get a chance to go see it, I can’t recommend it enough.