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Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010)

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An in-depth look at the Canadian rock band Rush, chronicling the band's musical evolution from their progressive rock sound of the '70s to their current heavy rock style.

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An in-depth look at the Canadian rock band Rush, chronicling the band's musical evolution from their progressive rock sound of the '70s to their current heavy rock style.

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Beyond the lighted stage

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Documentary | Music

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24 April 2010 (USA)  »

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Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage  »

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Trivia

Billy Corgan (of Smashing Pumpkins), who was interviewed for this documentary, has admitted to stealing a riff from Rush's "By-Tor & The Snow Dog". See more »

Quotes

Jack Black: Rush is just one of those bands that has a deep reservoir of rocket sauce. A lot of bands - they've only got so much in the bottle. They use it up sometimes in one song. These guys were the real deal. Their bottle was so big and so filled to the brim, they were shaking it literally for decades. And still there was sauce coming out.
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Features Rush in Rio (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Don't be surprised when you discover how boring we really are" - Geddy Lee
9 July 2010 | by (Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

In general, documentaries, even those exploring the careers of high profile bands, are not renowned for being particularly fun or interesting to watch for those not already enraptured by the subject matter, providing interesting supplementary informational tidbits for established fans, but unlikely to draw in anyone else. Bearing this in mind, it takes a pretty exceptional music documentary to feel like a concert, cultural history lesson, lively standalone film and hangout session with the band in question all at once, yet directors Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen manage to pull off such a daunting task with Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage with exultant ease.

Canadian rockers Rush, despite copious success and a tenaciously loyal band of fans (several interviews have concert-goers amusing admitting to it being their one-hundredth Rush show), have always had difficulty courting mainstream critical or commercial success, the "superstar band never to be fully acknowledged as superstars", and Beyond the Lighted Stage delves into the interesting interplay between fanaticism and indifference, managing to shed light upon the mainstream's elusive distaste for the band (too quirky? too nerdy? too many long songs? not firmly mainstream or firmly progressive enough to be easily categorized? not "hummable" enough?) while also delving to the heart and essence of the band and illuminating why the appeal really should have caught on. Furthermore, the film is particularly credible as being the rare documentary to match up to its subject matter cinematically with uncommonly masterful structure and composition. Perfectly paced, Beyond the Lighted Stage swiftly doles out its tidbits of band biography and the cultural reaction to them as if exhilarating plot twists rather than drab, necessary context, lending the film as lively and propulsive a tone as any good Rush song, of which the soundtrack offers enough to prove a comprehensive musical history of the band in itself.

More importantly, through comprehensive interviews with the naturally giving musical trifecta as well as those associated with them (interviews with the mothers of all three rockers are adorable) or simply admirers (with particularly effective use of Gene Simmons - "I couldn't understand how a band so good would go back to their hotel rooms without taking up the chance to get laid... those crazy Canadians" - and Jack Black - "Just when you thought the bottle of rocket-sauce that is Rush had run out, they just keep pumping out the rocket-sauce"), the film offers a genuine human, emotional anchor behind the music. As told by wacky but wise bassist/singer Geddy Lee, deadpan twinkling guitarist Alex Lifeson and the less outgoing, perfectionist yet perpetually chuckling drummer Neil Peart, what could have been a banal slab of backstory instead surpasses anecdote to become a vivid, kinetic journey. From their inglorious origins (playing high school dances, being too young to play higher profile clubs), struggles with their own musical complexity and refusal to curb to ascribed expectations (when asked to write more songs "designed to be singles", they churned out twenty-one minute long rock odyssey "2112", inspired by the writings of Ayn Rand - subsequently a massive hit), the evolution of their musical form (with an amusing, retrospective debate about the overuse of synths between Lee and Lifeson) and the haunting tragedy of the loss of Peart's daughter and wife, the viewer genuinely feels as if they have risen, struggled and rejoiced alongside Rush, with the trio's "goofy", irreverent sense of humour maintaining the journey remains a consistently offbeat and enjoyable one.

Just as likely to pique the interest of those unfamiliar with Rush as placate the enthusiasm of die-hard fans, Beyond the Lighted Stage proves one of the most satisfyingly effective documentaries in years, as much an extended thesis for the relevance and appeal of Rush (who, at the time, had yet to even be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame) as as comprehensive overview of their backstory. Whether a Rush fan or not, such a kinetic, energetic and vivacious piece of film-making should be considered near essential viewing, even for those who have yet to fly by night alongside the unmistakably unique rock band.

-9/10


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