I know that this documentary was released in select theaters last summer prior to the launch of the bands Time Machine Tour; but finally I had some personal time to sit back and enjoy re-discovering a band that is still one of my all time favorites since discovering them in middle school.
As one of my friends stated, “this movie will not neccessarily make you a fan, but if you are already a fan, after watching you will become an even bigger one”. Rush is one of those bands that has lasted longer than most playing today; actually forming in 1968! I think the most incredible thing about Rush, and it is highlighted smartly in this movie, is that they adapted with the changing times of music and new technology as it was introduced. Every album they have created has catered to different audiences, but at the same time for those of us who are die hard fans, never discard the original formula that got us hooked in the first place. That’s not to say that every Rush album has trumpted the prior; often when you ask a Rush fan if they like everything they’ve released they will often say “no”, but one thing that is constant is that they have one or two albums that are their absolute favorites time and time again.
There is such dynamic difference between Rush’s self-titled release and that of others released during their first decade of performing. Their first 3 albums (Rush (1974), Fly By Night and Caress of Steel which are both released in 1975!) are pretty much straight forward hard rock albums yet albums like 2112 (1976), A Farewell to Kings (1977), and Hemispheres (1978) they introduce the concept albums and define the style of “progressive rock” that have stood the test of time. With the introduction of New Wave, we see the later incorporation of synths and other effects that take the band on many new directions that have helped the band evolve into the sound they have today. As a true Rush fan I do like everything they have released, but personally tend to consistently listen to everything up to Signals (1982). With a band like Rush that has lasted so many decades it’s not that hard to find the album or albums that remind you of a sentimental time in your life at some point. They are just that meaningful of a music group to so many people.
The documentary is a facinating look at the origins of the three original founding members and the “new guy” Neil Peart; it is interesting to learn about the adversity they each faced growing up in the suburbs Toronto in the 50’s and 60’s. The recollections of both Getty Lee and Alex Lifeson are so earnest and one is riveted who their freindship has stood the test of time. I found their revisiting the basement of a church where they held their first show was great. They take time to eat lunch in a cafe where they use to drink tea and smoke cigarettes back in the 60’s, only to have a waitress walk up and ask for Getty’s autograph yet ignore Alex. It was priceless.
The documentary provides rare concert footage in their infancy as a band straight to the arena size shows they play today; however, the most incredible footage is a 17 year old Alex Lifeson argueing with his parents at their dinner table about why he wanted to drop out of 12th grade and play music; it’s almost a surreal experience to watch since it is so random. Many people I have talked to have mentioned that as the highlight of the movie often finding it unbelievable that the footage even existed.
Although the documentary focuses on their development as a band and as individuals over time, it also provides a brief intimate glimpse into tragedies they have faced and even their hobbies. For the real Rush fan this movie is a treat, it’s what we always hoped for but figured would never happen. One of the best moments of the movie is at the end when you the fan get to be the proverbial “fly on the wall” and watch all three of them reunite at a hunting lodge and enjoy a three course meal. The banter is hilarious and the chemistry between them is simply magic, clearly they enjoy each others company after all of these years. It is my understanding that there is an extended version of the movie whereas you can watch all three hours of the dinner in its entirety, totally geeky yes, but for us fans just a bit more something something! The band is not in denial that they are clearly a successful “cult” band and perhaps may never become mainstream; for them it’s about the fans and it is what keeps them going. God knows that true Rush fans don’t need an inducation or acknowledgement from the cheesy Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to validate the contributions they have made.
This movie is a must for the Rush fan in so many ways!