First of all, my apologies to those out there who may have stumbled across a couple of reviews of mine that happen to appear twice. Must have accidentally hit some buttons wrong, didn’t think I submitted them when in fact I did. Won’t happen again. Now, on to the show (or shows, for that matter). Different Stages, the fourth live Rush set, will go down as the one to exceed all of the others. For it contains material both new and old that will satisfy the two generations of Rush fans, and is a true “live” album in every sense of the word.I attended a show at Sandstone Amphitheatre during the Test For Echo tour in ‘97, and was the greatest show out of the several of theirs I have witnessed. I was hoping some of the performances here would be on the record, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Though I would have liked to have seen some other tracks here, such as “Half The World” and “Virtuality”, this has more than enough to satisfy me. When it comes to Rush, it does not take much to do so. The complete “2112″ is an absolute gem (first time ever all seven parts performed on a tour) and other older material such as “Natural Science”, “The Analog Kid”, and “Limelight” are amazingly fresh and powerful. Plus, the greatest Peart solo ever, and in its entirety, “The Rhythm Method-1997″. About time a full solo of his made it to record, rather than appear in an abridged form (see A Show Of Hands for classic example of this).You listen to these discs, and you feel as if you are there at the show. Nothing seems to have been “fixed in the studio” (see Exit Stage Left). The crowd noise evident in the background, the mix heavier, almost as though it was taken directly from the board at the show. You can just tell, it is not that hard to notice if you listen to a lot of live music.One slight negative to this: How many times can “Closer To The Heart” be redone? Or “The Spirit of Radio”. I know these are seminal tracks, but something else could have been included here. Thankfully, the third disc (Hammersmith Odeon in ‘78) gives us “A Farewell To Kings”, “Cygnus X-1″, and “Cinderella Man”, none of which previously appeared on a live album. So that quickly washes away that slight negative.All in all, a must for a Rush fan searching for a great live set (at a great price, I might add). This is the one that fans young and old will continue to play for years and years to come.
- Ghost of Perdition
- Under the Weeping Moon
Japanese Version featuring a Bonus Track: Force Ten.
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Whenever a band releases a double CD live set, people go nuts, but where was all the excitement when Rush decided to release a triple CD live set? The answer is there wasn’t any. If Rush really wanted to make news, they should announce their disbanding. This album was not released for ratings on the charts (I don’t believe it peaked past 100), but was released for the fans and the fans have been more than patient. This defintive collection of live acts is compiled from 3 separate tours which gives any Rush or non-Rush fan a good look at their live style from across the decades. Sure they may not be the most personable band on stage, but they bring the house down! Geddy Lee is simply one of the most powerful frontmen ever. Who else is so versatile on vocals, keys and bass guitar? The same goes with Neil Peart, the professor. His drumming is the cornerstone of all Rush tunes. And then of course is Alex, an underrated genuis of the contextual school of guitarists. These three rock both in the studio and live, which this compilation proves. Whether a fan of early metal, powerchord Rush or a mellower, progressive Rush fan, this album gives you a good taste of the other side and hopefully both will meet in the middle somewhere. Though most of the shows on the first two disc were taken almost exclusively from the Chicago act, they are still great songs. Many complain that there are too many repeats, but Rush does evolve and I find something new in every live rendition of every classic song. This is a must for the Rush die-hards. It would be too much for the Rush uninitiate, whom I advise to listen to the classics like Permanent Waves, 2112, Moving Pictures and Counterparts before moving on to Different Stages. Though Rush may be out for the count right now, their music endures and when one hears them live, their music shakes the firmament of the heavens.
The fourth live release by Rush, “Different Stages” followed the usual pattern of 4 studio/1 live disk, but both with featuring material primarily from the previous four releases.This set spans the entire career of Rush, focusing mostly on the 1974-1981 releases, and then the 1990s releases after Presto. Rush was very generous with this three-disk set, and with over 3.5 hours of music, there’s a lot of bang for your buck.I agree with other reviewers that the sound is good, but not great. Still, the instruments come through very clearly, especially Geddy Lee’s bass and Neil Peart’s drums. Alex Lifeson’s guitar sounds get muddy sometimes, but the tones that he uses and energy of his performance injects these songs with a lot of life. His playing breathes emotion into these performances, whereas Lee and Peart are more the technical rhythm players. It’s a good balance. Geddy Lee’s vocals sound better on the 1994 and 1997 recordings, especially on the later material, for which he was able to adjust his changing voice. He still hits the notes in Analog Kid, but Freewill and Spirit of Radio have taken some adjustment. On the 1978 concert disk, his vocals sometimes have that shrieking banshee quality, especially with the very early material like Anthem, Fly By Night and Bastille Day. Lee’s vocals can be said to be an acquired taste, but here’s a guy who has learned to use his voice better over time, especially in live performance with the difficult instrumental tracks he has to play simultaneously.The best part of hearing live performances of favorite songs is hearing what changes and surprises the artists bring us.In set one, there’s the short bass solo by Lee during Driven. Very cool. I also like the jam at the end of Closer to the Heart. To cap it off, there’s a complete performance of 2112.Set two includes many of the usual hit tracks, like Test for Echo, Tom Sawyer and Freewill. There’s also a great cut of the instrumental Leave that Thing Alone, followed by an update of Peart’s drum showcase, The Rhythm Method. I also liked the version of Natural Science even better than the studio version on Permanent Waves. YYZ rocks and has a teaser of Cygnus X-1.Set three is the 1978 show from London. I really liked how By-Tor and the Snow Dog merges into Xanadu at the chimes part. Very well done. There are a lot of cuts from Farewell to Kings, and Lifeson does some cool chorus washed guitar on Cinderalla Man. Cygnus X-1 has the great stop/start math rock that Rush was famous for, and the Working Man/Fly by Night/In the Mood combo is very effective. My one critique with this disk is that Peart’s drums were sometimes too busy, stepping on the other musicians, something that is more tempered on the later cuts.Great jams from one of the greatest jam bands ever. Highly recommended as a first live disk for fans. Then get Exit…Stage Left.
I have both the US and Japanese releases of Different Stages. The main differences are:1) A lot of Japanese text on the Japanese version. Go figure.2) Tour book from the AFTK tour3) One bonus track, Force Ten. This is a good version of this song, but not worth forking over the $$$ for this set unless you are a hardcore fan. If you ARE a hardcore fan, the tourbook is the real reason to get this set. NOTE: I have heard that subsequent Japanese issues of this DO NOT INCLUDE the tourbook, so caveat emptor.Now, about the sound quality of the two version. Let me tell you, it is EXACTLY THE SAME. How do I know? Because I ripped disc1 from both releases and compared the audio in a high-end sound editor. Guess what? They were identical.
Maybe it’s just me, but there’s very little difference in sound between the domestic release and this imported release of Different Stages. Don’t be fooled by all of the advertisements. They all say it has extra tracks. They should say extra track. Not tracks. The only extra track is Force Ten, and the live version on A Show Of Hands is much better. If you collect imports, and you like Rush, and you like spending too much money, then get this cd. Otherwise, there’s not much difference, other than the extra song and the fact that this imported version comes with a booklet of the lyrics to all the songs on this cd. In English and in Japanese.