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Video Review: EXIT...STAGE LEFT CONCERT VIDEO
All reviews are (c) Patuto Enterprises and originally appeared at Epinions.Com
Rush...Exit Stage Left Concert Video - The true beginning of M-TV?
Pros: Rush's first concert video - pure energetic magic.
Cons: Hard to Find today. 'Official' DVD version not available.
The Bottom Line: A great way to witness Rush live - as they were, 20 years ago...when all the World was their stage...
Over the past decade, Rush, the Canadian Power Trio, had be honing their musical skills, producing quality album after quality album that compared to no other, and slowly but surely building an immense fan base throughout Canada, the U.S. and the world over.
They were primed to bust out, and with their release of 'Permanent Waves' on January 1st, 1980, they had almost achieved super-stardom. With stellar hits like Spirit of Radio, Freewill and Jacob's Ladder, Rush had made themselves known throughout the musical world as a force to be reckoned with.
But nothing compared to the release of their critically acclaimed, enormously successful 'Moving Pictures' album. With a perfect album side containing Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, YYZ and Limelight, Rush silenced any criticism and became arguably the hottest rock band in the world.
The global tour to support 'Moving Pictures' was as successful as the album itself. Sell out after sell out hit each arena that Rush visited. 5 shows alone in NYC's Madison Square Garden is almost unheard of today, let alone 20 years ago. Rush had become a phenomenon with the teenage boys of America, and the video compilation of the Moving Pictures tour would capture that magic and become one of the many spring boards for the launch and initial success of M-TV.
Recorded live in Montreal during that history 1981 tour, Exit...Stage Left - The Concert Video mirrored the success of the simultaneous release of the double live album release of the same name. Where as the album contained a few more song, the video gave all those insight to the band of the decade and century. It was especially gratifying to witness for those of us unable to actually secure tickets during this world tour.
Each track was considered a music video onto itself. And for the day, when M-TV was in its infancy, and music videos were few and far between, many songs from the Exit...Stage Left Concert Video were played on the new music-video station. In fact, the entire concert video was played on numerous occasion which help further spread the word, the gospel, the magic of Rush to all the world.
Exit...Stage Left Concert Video, currently out of print and only available on LaserDisc, VHS and Region 2 DVDs is hopefully scheduled for release in the near future on USA-region coded DVD. It contains the following tracks that truly showcase the musical mastery that Rush has been world renowned for over the past quarter century.
Opening up the video (if not the actual concert - Spirit of Radio had that honor) was one of Rush's freshest songs ever released. It's interesting to note the audience reaction to songs that, to them, were brand new. Since Limelight came off of the Moving Pictures album, it wasn't quite the hit yet that it was destined to be. Still, Rush played it with near perfection and the crowd clearly gets into the song as it progresses.
2. Tom Sawyer
As with Limelight, the audience reaction to this other classic mega-hit to be from Rush is somewhat reserved to begin with, and the darkened lighting effects no doubt add to it. But I find this video mysterious and somewhat revealing of the complexities that Rush presents. The intensity in their playing is clearly evident in this track and it's another exceptional rendition, with some live flavorings, of the original.
3. The Trees
Missing the beautiful Broon's Bane opening that, thankfully, the live CD/album contains, this is nonetheless a spectacular rendition of the song coupled with some great audience shots reflecting a sea of humanity rocking to the tunes of Rush. It's quite a site and one has to wonder if Rush themselves didn't get more than a little caught up in the spectacle as it presented itself to them. The Trees, one of Rush's earlier big hits, is a song I can never tire of, and this version of it, in all of its glory, is pure magic.
Melting from The Trees and into their mystical Xanadu, Rush transfer the energy of the audience into sheer concentration. The mood is sullen as this trio works their magic behind on their more complex arrangements to date. As the song progresses and builds, so does the audience participation until your left with a music/movie making magical moment (wow - say that fast 5 times...) An early Rush-ian epic song reproduced with incredible precision - you'd swear they were just lip synching the whole thing, but you should know better :)
5. Red Barchetta
Another tune from their 'Moving Pictures' album, this one definitely captures the spirit of the audience as it was likely an early favorite and hit among them. Highlighted with some (then) interesting lighting and visual effects that get incorporated into the video production, Red Barchetta drives the audience to the peak of excitement and never lets them go. Great camera work detailing Alex Lifeson's guitar mastery is showcased on this track.
Another crowd eruption is showcased on this monster hit from the boys from the Great White North. Freewill not only reflects the crowds utter enjoyment at the spectacle before them, it shows that Geddy Lee's vocals can reach stratospheric highs even live! A great, moving rendition with enough energy to light all of NYC for a 5-night engagement. Great, great stuff so typical of Rush.
7. Closer to the Heart
Arguably the band's biggest hit at the time, Closer to the Heart makes the price of admission more than worth it. As the first few notes begin, and the crowd erupts in pleasure, the lighters quickly flare up and you're met with a sea of floating diamonds that's sure to create some goose bumps. Sure, it's 1980's, but it still works today. The crowd singing along to every note, every word just makes for a near-perfect video experience. A must see.
One of the finest rock instrumentals of all time, especially live during this tour, is YYZ. Unfortunately, likely due to time constraints, the God-like drum solo that is situated in the middle of this video has been deleted, but the rest of the song remains true to form. To see Rush jam along at a complex arrangements such as this, and yet do it so effortlessly is both humbling and amazing. Crowd banners indicate that 'Rush is the best band in the Galaxy' and with performances like this, that wasn't an overstatement.
The next few tracks are all strung together into a Medley of tunes including...
9. By-Tor and the Snow Dog
Another early classic, this time from their 'Fly By Night' album, the mythical war of guitars and music and lights and energy is incredibly portrayed on stage. As the battle continues, and the crowd goes wild, the lights dim down low and the music shifts gear into the next track within this medley...
10. In The End
The initially slower-paced In The End from their '2112' concept album does a nice job of changing the pace - initially - but then is powered by energy that should have been dwindling by now, but seems to be more energized now - 2 hours into the concert - than ever before. Nice camera close up works really brings you into the inner workings of Neil Peart and Geddy Lee.
11. In the Mood
From In the End to In The Mood Rush jolts the crowd with a tune from their first album. Clearly more fun and less 'artistically reminiscent of Rush' In the Mood really gets the crowd dancing in the aisles. It's a great song to listen to and experience live.
12. 2112 Finale
Ending the medley is the Finale segment of 2112. True, the crowd wanted more, but they would have to wait another 16 years before getting the chance to witness all of 2112 done live. Still, this ending to a mega-medley that went non stop for over 10 minutes was an excellent touch.
13. YYZ - Finale
The band wraps up the concert and the video by revisiting YYZ for a few more notes. As the last note is blasted out, the crowd erupts with applause. It's amazing how quickly 90 minutes can go by and seem like just a brief fleeting moment in time.
Non-stop energized music that few have been able to top. See why Rush was clearly one of the most popular and widely recognized bands of the 80's. If you have the means, watch Exit...Stage Left. You'll likely become a Rush fan overnight.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
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