It's finally here, the ultimate Rush documentary, titled Beyond the Lighted Stage. For all fans of the legendary Canadian hard rock/prog/metal act, most of whom have probably been waiting for this kind of coverage for years, directors Scot McFayden & Sam Dunn (both of whom created Metal: A Headbanger's Journey and Iron Maiden: Flight 666) have put together one enjoyable film that covers all the bases. Beyond the Lighted Stage played in select theaters earlier this year, and is now available on both DVD and Blu-Ray formats, the latter which is under review here.
Firstly, the hi-definition quality of the Blu-Ray is superb, as is the sound, so if you have a flat screen LCD television home theater set-up and a Blu-Ray player, this is obviously the way to go for optimum viewing. The film itself is remarkable, as it takes a look at the humble beginnings of Rush all the way to their recent tour. For long time fans, the rare live footage from the early years, some of which probably has never been seen before (including clips with original drummer John Rutsey), is easily the selling point here. One of the real highlights is a BLISTERING version of "La Villa Strangiato" from Holland in 1979, where the band were absolutely firing on all cylinders and at the peak of their prog rock powers. Interesting to hear Alex, Geddy, and Neil talk about the Caress of Steel, Farewell to Kings, and Hemispheres period as something that took a lot out of them and not something they would ever want to do again. So, for all you fans looking for a return to side long epics and technical prog, it's probably never going to happen.
As the film takes you through the 'mega-success' years of the 1980's, it's interesting to relive their change in sound and look as the decade wore on, until they finally returned to the hard rock sound again in the early 90's and beyond. Throughout, Beyond the Lighted Stage is perfectly put together, as the three members of Rush look back at every period in their history, talk about the albums & tours (interesting commentary about playing with KISS & UFO), as well as aspects of their private lives. The period after Peart's wife and child pass away is especially poignant, and you really get a sense from Lee and Lifeson that they basically thought the band was finished at that point. Thankfully, Neil eventually returned to the fold after his grieving period, and you hear first hand from him here how that whole time in his life ultimately led him back to music once again.
Plenty of vintage and more recent live clips and videos are sprinkled throughout the film, making this a real treasure chest for the fan, plus there's an additional 90 minutes of bonus interviews, live clips, and other assorted odd-n-ends to keep you occupied. One of the highlights however is a recent dinner with the band at a Hunting Lodge where they talk about getting back to writing some new material (I'm assuming this was recorded fairly recently right before the film was finished). This section is absolutely hilarious, as the band spend a few hours together eating a 3 course meal and drinking plenty of wine (Lifeson and Peart especially are giggling like schoolgirls at the boatload of jokes being told by Lee and Lifeson himself), making you feel like you are there at the restaurant with them and getting to know this legendary band just a little better.
Highest recommendations here, and not just for the Rush fan, but anyone into rock and rock music in general.