Rush - Different Stages

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Anthem/Atlantic
Catalog Number: 83122-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 196:20:00

So Rush have released another live album - this one called Different Stages. The title is derived from the fact that a.) several shows a represented here, b.) different eras are represented by those shows, and c.) the Rush of 1978 was at a different stage than they were in 1998 (well, really 1997).

Discs one and two were recorded on the 1997 Test For Echo tour (and mostly from the same date), with a few Counterparts period shows added in. Disc three (yes, three) is the 1978 show.

So, if you've bought every past Rush live disc, why should you bother with this one? Well, are you a Rush completist? If so, what do you need me for? If not, read on.

The thing that struck me from the moment that the first cut ("Dreamline" from Roll The Bones) begins is that this is raw Rush. This is Rush live. Yeh, yeh, they've had several live albums come out in the past, the "live thing" is old hat. What's different, then? Well, where before there was a polished feel to the previous live albums, at least that's the impression I'm left with, this has none of that (or very, very little). This is what, to me, live albums should sound like - like being there even though you weren't. The crowd is part of the experience - the point of the experience actually. The test of any musician is how good they sound, how well they play, up there under the lights, in front of a crowd. Anyone can sound good in a studio, that's why they call it studio wizardry.

But live, if you ain't got it, the crowd will know it. Well, Rush have got it! For those of you don't know. And man, you can hear it here!

There's a certain added power to the tracks here, an energy not available in the studio, as they feed off the fans feeding off them. I mean, it's what a live show is about - punctuating that beat to drive the point home.

On "Show Don't Tell" for example, you aren't just there, but you feel like you are in the middle of the stage with the guys. The extended interplay at the end of "Closer To The Heart" is so damn energetic its contagious. And the closer for disc one is an explosive "2112".

The only track that doesn't fare as well performance wise is "Bravado" - as on the mark as they are, they are just slightly off true. Overall the stronger performances were on the Test For Echo tour dates (we haven't got to disc three yet, so hold off for that comparison.)

So, disc two - maybe it's the material, but the more recent Rush tracks - "Test For Echo," "Roll The Bones" and "Stick It Out" just don't seem to have any impact live, and unfortunately, the performance of "Freewill" (one of my favourite Rush tracks) isn't what I think it could have been. Which is surprising, since of the TFE shows, the Chicago dates are the stronger ones. We are treated to Neil Peart's incredible drumming in the spotlight track "The Rhythm Method 1997."

And what about the third disk? It is a February show at the Hammersmith Odeon (now the Hammersmith Apollo, I believe) in London. Being '78, tracks played were "Bastille Day," "Farewell To Kings," and "Fly By Night." In a way, I have to question the "why?" here, as in 1975 they released All The World's A Stage, and then in 1981, Exit ... Stage Left, so all the show represents is the Farewell To Kings tour. Okay, I'll admit maybe I'm missing something here, as I'm not a long time fan (will it blow my cred to say that, except for "Tom Sawyer" my first real exposure to Rush was "The Big Money" and my first purchase was Hold Your Fire? Will it then help to tell you have I the entire ouvre outside of some latter day compilations? Or that Moving Pictures is my favourite?).

All I can surmise, and Geddy aludes to this in the liner notes, is that this show offered the widest variety of their early- to mid-70's work, and that more recent shows, their more recent work. Interesting to note what albums, what periods aren't represented - though I won't

Rush rocked hard at this show, and the sound is very good, but there are moments when the band sounds off. But, given that a live performance isn't a 100% controlled situation, they are on enough that you barely notice the off moments.

So, I guess the bottom line is: is this essential to your collection? No, not essential. Except as a document of the Test For Echo tour, from which they've included only three tracks. Maybe even they realized that TFE wasn't their strongest effort. From a retrospective point of view, this is the point where you can look back on it all, from 1974's debut Rush to TFE.

I hope this isn't Rush's way of saying it's been a great 20 years, now it's time to pack it in. I think we will always need a Rush, because no matter how many bands take pages out of their book, there will always be only one Geddy Lee, Alec Lifeson, and Neal Peart.

Disc One: Dreamline / Limelight / Driven / Bravado / Animate / Show Don't Tell / The Trees / Nobody's Hero / Closer To The Heart / 2112

Disc Two: Test For Echo / Analog Kid / Freewill / Roll The Bones / Stick It Out / Resist / Leave That Thing Alone / The Rhythm Method 1997 / Natural Science / The Spirit Of Radio / Tom Sawyer / YYZ

Disc Three: Bastille Day / By-Tor & The Snow Dog / Xanadu / Farewell To Kings / Something For Nothing / Cygnus X-1 / Anthem / Working Man / Fly By Night / In The Mood / Cinderella Man

Geddy Lee - bass, keyboards and vocals
Alec Lifeson - guitars, keyboards and backing vocals
Neil Peart - drums and percussion

Rush (1974)
Fly By Night (1975)
Caress Of Steel (1975)
2112 (1976)
All The World's A Stage (1976)
A Farewell To Kings (1977)
Hemispheres (1978)
Archives (1978)
Permanent Waves (1980)
Moving Pictures (1981)
Exit ... Stage Left (1981)
Signals (1982)
Grace Under Pressure (1984)
Power Windows (1985)
Hold Your Fire (1987)
A Show Of Hands (1989)
Presto (1989)
Chronicles (1990)
Roll The Bones (1991)
Counterparts (1993)
Test For Echo (1996)
Different Stages (1998)
Vapor Trails (2003)
Rush In Rio (2003)
Feedback (2004)
R30 (2005)
Gold (2006)
Snakes And Arrows (2007)
Snakes And Arrows Live (2008)
Retrospective III (2009)
Working Men (2009)
Grace Under Pressure: 1984 Tour (2009)
Icon (2010)
Time Stand Still: The Collection (2010)
Icon 2 (2011)
Rush ABC 1974: The First American Broadcast (2011)
Sector 1 (2011)
Sector 2 (2011)
Sector 3 (2011)
Moving Pictures: Live 2011 (2011)
Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland (2011)
Clockwork Angels (2012)
The Studio Albums 1989-2007 (2013) (boxset) Clockwork Angels Tour (2013)

Exit-Stage Left (VHS) (1982)
Through The Camera Eye (VHS) (1984)
Grace Under Pressure Tour 1984 (VHS) (1986)
A Show Of Hands (VHS) (1988)
Chronicles (VHS/DVD) (1990/2001)
Rush In Rio (DVD/VID) (2003)
R30 (DVD) (2005)
Music In Review 1974-1981 (2006)
Replay X3 (DVD) (2006)
Snakes And Arrows Live (DVD) (2008)
Working Men (DVD) (2009)
Beyond The Lighted Stage (DVD) (2010)
Classic Albums: 2012 - Moving Pictures (2010)
Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland (2011)
Clockwork Angels Tour (2013)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin CA

Added: April 1st 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 918
Language: english


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