If asked "what artist is ranked third in consecutive gold or platinum albums after THE BEATLES and THE ROLLING STONES" how would you answer? Pretty obvious given the title of this review that it is RUSH, but the vast majority of people would not think to guess the legendary Canadian trio. That in large part summates the real story of RUSH as told in this brilliant documentary film, "Beyond the Light Stage". It speaks to a long-running and hugely successful group whose fans are among the most devoted in rock.
Yet the common theme throughout the "Beyond the Lighted Stage", which succeeds for its "film" qualities more than its documentary detail, is how RUSH became, in the words of bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Geddy Lee, "the biggest cult band in the world." It is a band that has wowed listeners since the release of its self-titled 1974 album, the only one that included drummer John Rutsey and was by far its most traditionally hard rock/heavy metal release. It launched a career of increasingly more ambitious progressive rock opuses like "2112", the ridiculously complex "Hemispheres", mass commercial breakout "Moving Pictures", and a stunning run of subsequent releases right on up to 2007's "Snakes & Arrows" that were often as polarizing as they were unique and undeniably creative.
Though the DVD features a long list of industry folks, RUSH insiders, and a star-studded cast of fans and supporters (Gene Simmons, Jack Black, Trent Reznor, Zakk Wylde, Kirk Hammett, Danny Carey, Billy Corgan, Les Claypool, and more), the heart and soul of this compelling tale is told by vocalist, bassist, and baseball fanatic Geddy Lee; guitarist and golf addict Alex Lifeson; and drum god, lyricist, biker, reader, and absolute brainiac Neil Peart who has always been RUSH's "X" factor. Beyond the stories of the early years — complete with insightful family videos), those memorable early tours with the likes of KISS, the ironbound loyalty of the RUSH geeks (the Rushcon "extra" is quite fun), and damn near anything else you'd like to know about RUSH is the story of three of the most talented musicians and closest friends you'll ever see. That unbreakable bond, sixth-sense musical connectivity, undying devotion to the music, and the willingness of the members to allow the viewer such an intimate view into their lives is what really make "Beyond the Lighted Stage" a magnificent DVD. That it can be at different points heartwarming, hilarious, mentally stimulating, and heartbreaking (e.g. the tragedies that befell Peart's daughter and wife), yet cohesively edited in such a way that both fans and otherwise uninterested parties will find themselves completely engrossed transcends the specifics of RUSH' immense contribution to the world of rock.
What else is "Beyond the Lighted Stage" about? As Billy Corgan states, it's about "the people's band." You'll love the film, you'll love the extras, and you'll catch yourself thinking about it days and weeks later. This is RUSH; this is excellence.