Yippee! At last, my copy of Rush Replay x 3 has arrived! For those not in the know, this is a DVD repackaging of three Rush concert videos – Exit…Stage Left, Grace Under Pressure, and A Show Of Hands. The package also includes a CD featuring the soundtrack to the Grace Under Pressure show – you can already get CDs of Exit…Stage Left and A Show Of Hands.
The other night, I sat and watched the first two of these shows. As you would expect, the musicianship is first class in both but as for the dress sense…? Tight jeans, Kickers, and too-narrow ties in the former and mid-eighties baginess in the latter – less said the better!
Anyway, the big difference between the two shows is the use of technology. Exit…Stage Left sees a stripped down stage and a limited – by Rush’s standards – set of instruments. Guitars and bass pedals for Alex Lifeson; bass, bass pedals and synths for Geddy Lee; and, well, as ever, Neil Peart’s drum riser is swamped with one of most impressive arrays of percussion ever assembled. The latter sees all these in use again plus sequencers, guitar synths, lasers, video backdrops, and wireless amplification. It’s a while since I watched my video copy of A Show Of Hands but, if memory serves, the stage set up is several degrees more complex again.
As you might expect, all this technology and technical ability means that the live renditions of songs are very true (at time perhaps too true) to their studio counterparts. This precision is offset by the medleys which are slotted into the sets. These showcase the bands ability and give plenty of opportunity for improvised lead solos, bass runs, and drum fills aplenty. They also show the development of the band as they seemlessly merge standards such as By-tor & The Snow Dog, In The Mood, Finding My Way, YYZ, Overture/Temples Of Syrinx and Tom Sawyer.
One of the high points of Exit…Stage Left is a rendition of Limelight – perhaps the most complex rock song ever written and a track which even it’s composers reportedly express reluctance over playing live. It also features an outstanding rendition of Xanadu. The Grace DVD features previously unavailable footage of The Enemy Within, The Weapon and Witch Hunt, as well as a suitably ominous rendition of Vital Signs.
In all this is a must have package for the Rush fan – especially as it’s so nicely priced – £14.99 on Amazon for 3 DVDs plus a CD and reproductions of the tour booklets for each show.