Review: Rush, Beyond The Lighted Stage

Behind the scenes with the biggest cult band in rock


© Tim Mosenfelder/Corbis

For over forty years Canada's finest power trio Rush has dazzled fans and alienated music critics all over the world with their unique brand of prog rock. It is past time someone made a film in tribute to a band that, despite selling millions of records, remains resolutely ignored by the mainstream media.

Directors Sam Dunn and Scot MacFadyen were able to access a huge selection of archive materials, including home movies and footage of the group playing high school dances in Canada with John Rutsey on the drums. As Dunn and MacFayden bring the band's very earliest years to life, what quickly emerges is the strength of the friendship between lifelong buddies Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. For a band so often accused of pretension for their concept albums and cerebral lyrics, there is no hint of affectation about these guys. There are appearances from Geddy's and Alex's mothers, both of whom were baffled by their sons' music and career choices, particularly Alex's mom who was appalled when her academically gifted son decided to quit high school to pursue a life in rock.

Geddy and Alex still call Neil Peart "the new guy" but the professor receives ample screen time. In one lovely sequence, Peart is hammering away at the kit then has to stop when he puts the beater clean through the head of his kick drum. Drummer guru Freddie Gruber makes a brief appearance and, in the manner of gurus everywhere, says things that are either terribly profound or utterly incomprehensible. You'll have to decide for yourself which of those categories Gruber belongs to.

No modern documentary would be complete without appearances from famous fans, so here you get contributions from the likes of Vinnie Paul, Mike Portnoy, Trent Reznor, Billy Corgan and Jack Black. There are some unexpected stories from Rush's past – they toured extensively with KISS early in their career and Gene Simmons remains stunned that they never showed any inclination towards chasing groupies. The band members are never afraid to laugh at themselves – they all remain horrified looking back at some of their more outlandish wardrobe choices in the 70s and cheerfully admit they were sartorially clueless.

Beyond The Lighted Stage is packed with live performances amongst the interviews and is sure to put a huge smile on the face of any fan, while drummers will feel irresistibly compelled to go hit something. Tremendous.

Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray from 5 July. For a brief taster you can watch the trailer below.

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