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5 stars Rush reached theirr pinnacle with this cd. This was their final and best cd ever put out. All albums after this one went downhill. I have heard many live bootlegs of Rush. But, the best live album is right here with "A Show of Hands."
Report this review (#20962)
Posted Sunday, February 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Without a doubt the best of the live albums. No point in picking out individual tracks here, every one is excellent and unmissable. The sound is superb and the whole cd can be played again and again, without tiring. Rush at their best. If you only buy one live Rush album, make it this one!
Report this review (#20964)
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars "A Show of Hands" sums up RUSH's last four albums: "Signals", "Grace Under Pressure", "Power Windows", "Hold Your Fire". Not a body of work the band will be remembered for when all is said and done, but each has its share of good tracks, which the band slices from their original source with surgeon's skill. On stage, GEDDY LEE splits his time between bass and synthesizer, so the bottom end drops out from time to time, making the performance seem a little flat. Still, what the band lacks in passion they make up for in execution, delivering clean, accurate versions of the originals. And the selection here is spot on: "Subdivisions", "Time Stand Still" and "The Big Money" are obvious choices, but drawing out album cuts like "Turn The Page", "Mission", "Marathon" and "Distant Early Warning" are eminently informed additions. What's missing isn't insubstantial -- "New World Man", "The Body Electric", "Prime Mover" -- but you can't have everything. Compared to their previous two live sets ("All The World's A Stage", "Exit... Stage Left"), "A Show of Hands" is cold and remote, which isn't an indictment since that's where RUSH was musically at the time. The set's warmest moment comes at the close, with a version of "Closer to the Heart" that the audience clearly relishes. Anyone familiar with the band's work since "Signals" should know what to expect from "A Show of Hands".

It's a different musical chapter than their earlier classics, but one that RUSH fans have taken to heart. Personally, I think any excuse to keep RUSH in the limelight is a cause for celebration. However, the suggestion by some that this exceeds "Exit... Stage Left" is off the mark. Note that, while the performance sounds consistent throughout, this is actually drawn from two separate tours: the 1988 "Hold Your Fire" tour and the 1986 "Power Windows" tour. The performance is also available on VHS/laser disc as "A Show of Hands" - The Video Concert.

Report this review (#20966)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
2 stars Recorded during the "Power Windows" tour '86 and the "Hold Your Fire" tour '88, "A show of hands" is definitely one of the most boring live recordings I've ever listened to. Many RUSH devoted fans actually recognize how Geddy struggles to get the "perfect" pitch when he "sings", or at least, when he tries to do so. but to be fair, the album's got brilliant passages as well, such as "The Rhythm Method" where Neil PEART executes for over 4 and a half minutes, beautiful, compassed and improved drum solo music. The live versions of "Subdivisions" and "Closer to the Heart" are the most revealing pieces out of the entire album, making the whole production worthwhile to listen to. The intro resembling the "Three Stooges" opening theme is quite funny as well, but despite how poor and awfully produced this album is, no matter what kind of music genre you play, you have to give a hi-fi sound quality when releasing a live album, and "A Show of hands" doesn't have it.

You might as well reconsider purchasing this album because it ain't nothing out of this world, but if you still won't believe me and go for it, you might as well go and purchase the live DVD of this tour too, "A Show of hands - The Video Concert" to look at it with your own eyes.

Report this review (#20967)
Posted Monday, May 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Go buy it! I was turned on to Rush in 1980 with their album Moving Pictures. Since then I had been a devout fan up to 1991's Roll The Bones. A Show Of Hands is for me their crowning glory to all the albums they made from 1980 to 1987. Even now, I am still amazed how a band like Rush could faithfully reproduce their studio recorded songs - live... and on stage! Now, not many bands can do that. Geddy's voice on stage sounds true to his studio, helium like voice. Alex is still a powerhouse on his guitars. Finally, Neal Peart is in my opinion, the BEST DRUMMER in the world - ever. Try listening to the CD on headphones and you will notice little details, the nuances of the live music staying true to the studio versions. Of course, there are variations introduced by the band now and then, as their antics on stage get the better of them. But still, I love this cd. I'd rather lose their other albums but not this one.
Report this review (#20968)
Posted Tuesday, June 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I cannot give this record a 5 star rating because is live, but actually is the most important live record from RUSH. First, with this record, they finished the first 15 year journey, getting ready for the next decade and the next step (and the new record label). Second, the first conformation and conception of the drum solo as an orchestrated piece by itself, a marvellous impact in the music ground. The record shows a true farewell to the past leaving a very good mouth taste. Is obvious that they needed this moment and they did it outstandingly, anthems like "closer to the heart", "marathon" and "manhattan project" sound better than before, filling our hearts and minds; after all, a great band needs to do great closures and a "show of hands" as they call it, is the truth that they don't owe nothing to nobody, excpet for the fans.
Report this review (#20969)
Posted Tuesday, June 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I know alot of the Rush 'purists' may like to forget the period from '83 to around '89. I think their music of this period is an excellent balance to the whole collection of their 30 year portfolio. I only rate it below a 5 start because the energy level isn't quite as high as some of the other live recordings. But, I think the live versions of several songs, (and those on the Video - some which don't appear on the CD), really added to my appreciation of the original. Rush has always proved their professionalism and feeling by sounding incredibly better live than in the studio. In particular, the live version of Marthon actually proved to me that I wasn't telling tall stories from a fading concert memory by saying that the song was 10 times more powerful live than on Power Windows.

OK purists, give it another listen!

Report this review (#20970)
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This live album didn't impress me as much as their previous live "Exit...Stage Left", but it's a nice collection of their 80's songs and a fair document of the band's live show from the late 80's. What made me disappointed was the style how Geddy maneuvered between his bass guitar and keyboards. Some parts which had both of them on the studio album, are now played merely with the synthesizers, and the result isn't very satisfying as the sound gets flat. The album opening with funny intro and "Big Money" is still a very powerful performance of a good song from a poor studio album.
Report this review (#20973)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This live affair is the culmination of the 4 albums that came after Moving Pictures. These albums are Signals, Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows, and Hold Your Fire. Rush was at the height of the synth era and they were gaining new fans and retaining their old ones. Their live shows became more of a tight and cohesive affair than ever. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart were at the height of their abilities on this one. The sound is crisp and clean, the keyboards are smooth and clear, the drumming is tasteful and concise, and the guitar work is intricate and yet simple at the same time.

The album opens with their classic intro of the Three Stooges theme. It goes immediately into Big Money, a very faithful version of the studio counterpart. The bass sound, however, doesn't have the punch of the studio affair. Lee's vocals are at his best, and they only get better during the show. Subdivisions follows and is one of the strongest songs on the album. The Oberheim solo in the middle is replaced by some synth choirs instead, but it still retains that feel from 1982. The songs from Hold Your Fire are well represented, yet I still find it hard to enjoy them fully (I consider Hold Your Fire as the weakest Rush album). The two GUP songs are also very well represented, Distant Early Warning and Red Sector A are played with precision and skill, and retain the same mood as the studio counterpart. As a treat, there are two pre-Signals songs featured. Witch Hunt is from the often considered masterpiece Moving Pictures, and it surpasses the studio version. The closing track, Closer to the Heart from A Farewell to Kings, features an extended quasi-reggae outro and it shows that Rush can still hark back to their old roots of jamming.

Overall, this is a good live album from their 80's output. I recommend it to those who want to hear live Rush from the height of their often considered "weakest" era. 4/5.

Report this review (#44626)
Posted Sunday, August 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the reviewers had this to say regarding one of Rush's other live discs.. "Live albums are a dicey propsition, and are totally a 70's thing." It's funny to see that, and while (on the whole), I DO agree with his statement, let it be known Rush are one of the few bands to put out consistently good live discs in the 70's, 80's, 90's and up to now.

Regarding THIS long-player, I think it's a very good document of the journey begun with SIGNALS in '82. Rush had come a long way since that monumental (IMO) disc and had had, like any other band, ups and downs (more ups than downs, thank goodness). This live album features synth-era Rush doing a bang-up job onstage. Cuts like "Time Stand Still", "Turn The Page", "The Big Money", and even "Witch Hunt" are given reverential treatment.

While I really enjoy this disc, and I'd recommend it to anyone, some things bother me. 1/I admire their willingness and ability to recreate the original versions in a live format, but I'd have loved to hear some out and out jamming; which leads me to my next point of note: 2/I'd have preferred each member to get their time in the spotlight, with extended solos from not only Peart, but Lee and Lifeson as well. They're ALL masters of their respective instruments, so let's hear it! PLEASE! 3/As much as I love this song, does the world REALLY need another version of "CLOSER TO THE HEART"? Yes, it's a great song, but, MY GOD!...too much of a good thing CAN be a bad thing, IMO. Sadly though, this is the only sut on the disc that features some extended jamming, much like my 1st point of note. Oh well; guess I ought not kvetch too much. It is, after all, Rush...and any reason to keep them in the spotlight is a cause celebree, indeed. Cheers!

Report this review (#56062)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well I like this album a lot. Its great, all the songs are just as good as their studio counterparts. I find this is a great album to put on at night when going to sleep, as it is almost exclusively synth era Rush, and it is not too heavy, nice and ambient in parts, also very uplifting for the most part. Also, I got this before I got Hold Your FIre and Power Windows (still don't have that one).

Well anyway, this is pretty much a greatest hits, but its better because all the songs are different. Highlights are: The Big Money, Subdivisions, Marathon, Mystic Rhythms, Witch Hunt, Force Ten and Closer to the Heart. All the songs are good really, except the rhythm method, which is a boring drum solo. Interesting for one listen, boring after that.

So this would be a good album to get as an introduction to synth era Rush, although Signals is grossly underrated and one of my fav synth-Rush songs, The Enemy Within is not on it. But anyway I lvoe this album, but as it is a live album, aka pseudo Greatest Hits, it is not essential, but an excellent addition to any collection, especially rush fans.

Report this review (#60431)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's another excellent live set from great band Rush. I first owned the live video concert of this album in laser disc (LD) format which I still keep it now. It's an attractive show and later I found out that there is a different setlist because in the video setlist there is no "Subdivisions" from "Signals" album which has become my all-time favorite of Rush track. When I realized it I can not let myself not owning the audio CD as it's here at track 2. So I purchased the CD. It's no regret at all having this format. The show starts off with powerful song "The Big Money" from "Power Windows" album. There is practically no major difference between studio version as the band performs excellently- it seems like they record the song in the studio but actually in front off audience. Another great thread is when "Distant Early Warning" is played. It reminds me as well to the live version under "Grace Under Pressure Tour" live video in which I have reviewed as well at this site. Again, Geddy Lee shows his skills in playing bass guitar and at the same time sings the song in a relax manner. Alex Lifeson gives his hard edge guitar solo and fills in a song which has modern sounds of digital era. Neil Peart - the drummer and lyrics writer - seems to play exactly the same with the studio version.

"Mystic Rhythms" which has a slow part at the beginning helps provide a musical break from heavy songs. In this performance there is a nice works between keyboards, bass guitar and electric guitar in a bit atmospheric nuance - especially when Geddy sings "Mystic Rhythms .!!!" . it's a nice music segment. As was the case with previous live recordings, this time Neil Peart gives again his solo augmented with orchestrated sounds under "The Rhythm Method (Drum Solo)". The show closes with their classic song "Closer To The Heart".

No doubt, you should own this CD especially if you like rock concert album. It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. If you see the video version, go and buy it! It's an excellent live show video. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#75862)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Another live album by the band, which seemed unfatigable in the 80's.

Honestly, this goes in the 'maybe' pile. Most of the stuff is from the Hold Your Fire album and Power Windows era, which is the most forgottable period of all. Die-hard fans could get it, but the common man should not start here to appreciate Rush. The VHS show was pretty awesome, but the fact of just seeing them is enough.

The setlist is kinda lame, compared to the super ones we got in the last years. We could forget lame-o songs like Big Money, Marathon or Mission. Too bad the Subdivisions version on this one is sooo far away from the original (which kicks butt), and we don't need another forgettable version of Closer to the Heart!

Pretty much for fans, but don't miss the show of the same name. Lots of humor!

Report this review (#78727)
Posted Friday, May 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars A Show Of Hands closes out the Third Chapter of RUSH with a rather wimpy band. The set- list comprises of songs from Signals-Hold Your Fire with the tracks "Closer To The Heart" and "Witch Hunt" thrown in for good measure. Of all the band's live releases this one will draw the least attention and for good reason.

The set-list for this gig certainly isn't the strongest one of any RUSH recording. Why relatively weaker tracks like "Turn The Page" and "The Big Money" are included while countless classics from Signals, which only receives one representative, are omitted really boggles me. However, this set list could still make for a fantastic album, but the quality of the recording isn't excellent. There's a real problem with the mixing that is really bad up until "Turn The Page" where the troubles seem to be fixed to some degree. However, the mix still tends to tarnish the songs often times with Geddy's bass being overpowering leaving Alex to sit almost undistinguished from background noise. Also, the synthesizers seem to be too low in the mix.

Neil Peart's solo spot on the album can be considered his worst officially recorded performance. With each year he keeps the same basic template but trims the fat and ornaments when necessary, and this solo falls near the beginning so it is in a rather primitive, by comparison, form. Not weak but certainly not his best.

This is by no means a bad album, but more casual fans should probably be wary about buying it, and likewise, Rush fanatics will find this really isn't their favorite Rush release.

Report this review (#87608)
Posted Friday, August 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars A Show of Hands, yay for a good CD, another great addition to Rush's ultimate collection of live CDs. As one could say, Rush is incredible live, and A Show of Hands is pretty much a tesitimony here. With a good song selection we see the majority of the songs being played from their era of Signals - Hold Your Fire, and being that time considered Rush's weakest, not as if in power not song quality, A Show of Hands brings out the great parts of the CDs. It features all the great songs from Power Windows and Grace Under Pressure. If you thought that those albums were a little wierd or unlike Rush, then listen to this live album. It really justifies the albums that Rush released. The albums are good, don't get me wrong, just not the most popular of Rush, still, A Show of Hands still demonstrate Rush's genious.
Report this review (#93270)
Posted Tuesday, October 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars "A Show Of Hands' seems a little too plastic to me as we get a lot of synths and not enough bottom end. And Geddy's vocals seem higher than usual. I guess i'm just not a big fan of this period of RUSH.

Good choice for the first song though as "The Big Money" gets the record off to a great start. Nice guitar solo from Alex after 3 minutes as Neil's drums rumble along. Great ending to the song as well. Some other highlights for me are,"Subdivisions" which takes me back to the early eighties for a brief moment as the synths signal the start of the song. "Witch Hunt (Part III of Fear)" is more like it as far as i'm concerned with a good solo from Alex towards the end of the song."Time Stand Still" takes a while to get going, but it does turn out to be a highlight. "Red Sector A" is so well done, great tune ! "Closer To The Heart" a fan favourite, features a beautiful instrumental interlude with some incredible bass and lead guitar. Nice version.

Overall a good live record, but RUSH has made better ones in my opinion.

Report this review (#113890)
Posted Wednesday, February 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars A good example and "best of" collection of Rush's '80's output (minus "Permanent Waves" and "Moving Pictures"), containing most of their finest songs from this era played with more energy and flair than you're likely to find on their studio releases.

However, comparing this live album to their later releases one can really tell the difference in the band's stylistic quality, and "Show of Hands" comes off as sounding almost commercial when juxtaposed to the more mighty and raw sounding "Different Stages". I suppose it was just the band's decade long obsession with perfection that eliminated their once unstoppable rock, and while those albums (and "Show of Hands") certainly aren't bad, they just aren't on par with the group's finest. This album, however, does a good job of showcasing their sound during those days.

I would say that "Show of Hands" is a logical purchase for fans of "Grace Under Pressure" through "Hold Your Fire", but don't think it'll be as powerful as other live albums.

Setlist 3 Instrumental Performances 3 Stage Energy 3 Live Experience 3

Report this review (#116659)
Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This was actually the first album I ever got by Rush. I believe I got it for my birthday, and dismissed it because it was a live album, and back then I thought live = horrible. Man was I wrong! It gives a good spectrum of Rush through the years (up until when it was recorded, of course) and it was a very good introduction to Rush. My favourites here are Subdivisions, The Rhythm Method, Time Stand Still and Closer To The Heart. All very good tracks when played live, but the rest of the songs are quite good too. The booklet has some pictures from the concerts, which is an added bonus as well. Overall a good live album, and I would suggest it to anyone who likes live albums, loves Rush, or who is just getting started on Rush and is looking to get a broader spectrum than a single album would give.
Report this review (#127745)
Posted Friday, July 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars They disengaged, they turned the page

Rush's '88 live album is quite good, but isn't that what we always expect from the band? It seems that every time the band wants to change their sound and move in another direction they release a live album. This was the case for albums like their 1976 release All The World's A Stage which saw them move from their heavy roots onto their classic era, and from their classic era they Exit(ed)... To Stage Left to make their move onto heavier synthesized grounds with their Signals album. Now, at the end of that era they'll make their move again.

Recorded over their Power Windows and Hold Your Fire tours the track listing shows very much where the band was at the time. What's nice is that if you are a devoted fan of the band then you're going to get a lot of material here that was not previously, or has not subsequently, been released live. Of course, the performance here is quite good, as it always is, but what really either makes or destroys this album for most is the selection of songs.

People who loved Rush's 80s period should find a lot to like here. Songs like Turn The Page, Marathon, Mission, Mystic Rhythms, Force Ten and Red Sector A are some of Rush's best and certainly the best from that particular era. However, some prog fans may be turned off by others on the album such as Time Stand Still or The Big Money. One of the real highlights of this album, however, is the performance that caps off the album. Closer To The Heart is performed in fine form here. Coming into the end of the track the band decided to tack on an extra two and a half minutes of upbeat instrumental to the track which make it something truly special.

However, I'd really only recommend this one to fans or those who like Rush's 80s period or those who don't mind a bit of New Wave in their prog. Still a good effort none the less, this one is very deserving of a high 3. Not for everyone but good for most.

Report this review (#168713)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars With recordings from several different shows from both their Power Windows and Hold Your Fire tours A Show Of Hands is actually a live compilation, yet this does not disrupt the flow and the record is very consistent. Its almost remarkable how good Rush make heavily overdubbed and complex studio songs such as Mission, Prime Mover and Time Stand Still sound here and surprise oddball number Witch Hunt enjoys a makeover in the form of a craftily inserted flurry-of-notes solo from guitarist Alex Lifeson. Inevitably it is Closer To The Heart, complete with improv-guitar/bass jam, that receives the well deserved best reaction from the crowd and raises the question about why more vintage Rush material wasn't included. Peart's solo, dubbed The Rhythm Method, is as inventive as always and when even the band themselves have been quoted as calling this a great achievement on which everything comes together perfectly its hard to disagree. An engaging journey into the sound of Rush live in the mid/late 1980s.
Report this review (#170327)
Posted Friday, May 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars When a band has been around as long as RUSH has (30+ years), their musical styles will change and evolve, just not always for the best. I group the bands third set of releases into what is known as Rush's "Synthesizer Period". All of these albums came out during the 1980's and represent the band's post-Moving Pictures era. The albums are Signals (1982), Grace Under Pressure (1984), Power Windows (1985), Hold Your Fire (1987) and A Show of Hands "Live" (1988).

A Show of Hands is a snapshot of the Hold Your Fire tour. Only two songs on the record, Mystic Rhythms and Witch Hunt were from the preceding Power Windows tour. I'm only giving Show of Hands 2 stars. But this is compared to all of Rush's other Live offerings, which I consider better. Production is good, even better than Exit Stage Left, but I just don't like a lot of these selections, which are predominantly from Power Windows and Hold Your Fire, my two least favorite Rush albums. Personally, I would just like to forget that the 80's even happened and that one of my favorite progressive hard rock bands had to travel down this dark path of synthesizer laden "new wave" crap.

On the bright side, for a fully loaded single disc that used to cost about $14, you can now pick up this '97 re-master for around $8 brand new. Now that's a bargain for us completists.

Report this review (#182896)
Posted Friday, September 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have had this album (almost) for the last 20 years. I probably should get the DVD box too, being a Rush fan. This live album is therefore a part of my music-DNA-profile.

The music have a very considerate 1980s feel over it. It is based on the Signals, Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows and Hold Your Fire albums. It is therefore down to if you like these albums or not. There is no songs, with the exception of Closer To The Heart, from the classic albums from the 1970s here. In my view, that explain the cold, clinical feeling of this album. A feeling thankfully ditched on the live albums beginning from Different Stages and to this years Snakes & Arrows Live album. A Show Of Hands is therefore also Rush, captured in a time capsule. The 1980s. The artwork also confirms that. I guess Alex Lifeson will not like to be remembered with this hairstyle and clothes. Sorry, but I cannot hide my laughter. OK, we have all sinned and repented.

When that is said, this is not a bad live album. It has some really good stuff here, although a bit hidden in the flat sound. The songs are faultless delivered. Rush know what they are doing. They deserve the credit due to them. Praise and admire. But in my view; this is both a good live album and a documentation of how Rush was in the 1980s. I liked Hold Your Fire and the three other albums. I therefore like this album. I have played it to shreds over the last twenty years so it is a part of my life. Flat, dated sound but still good.

Good, but non-essential = 3.75 stars

Report this review (#187908)
Posted Tuesday, November 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Probably the best Rush live album ever. It was my very first CD I ever bought (even before I had a CD player!). Rush used to release a live double LP every four albums as a kind of closing chapter of a different phase. And this is what you get: recorded during the Hold Your Fire tour, it shows the band at its creativeness peak. The musicanship is, as always, awesome. I love this 'keyboards' stage of the band. To me it was their most progressive and bold time. Neil Peart is simply outdoing himself again. What a guy! But the whole band is their finest form. they reached a near perfection state by this time.It was hard to believe that only 3 guys could produce so much sound, with so much precision and conviction. I had great expectations on the Exit Stage Left live offering, but that album was a bit of a disappointment while A Show Of hands excelled all my best wishes. Even though the DVD version is better (for it has more songs), this is the live Rush that I hear the most. And with the same pleasure, I should point out. Some live versions are even better than the original studio ones (like Subdivsions). The production is very good and the overall sound is great.

It was only unfortunate that this CD sighted the last of the truly creative period in Rush's career, since it was all bound to go dawnhill from then on. But that's another story. A Show Of hands was a great testimony of one of the world's most interesting and influential groups to emerge from the 70's. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#190548)
Posted Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover Team
3 stars Rush's third live album documents songs from their 1982-1988 period. The songs are all performed well, with a few exceptions where Lee's vocals seem out of tune. They key thing about this album when considering purchasing it is, do you like 1980s Rush? If the answer is yes, you'll probably enjoy this one very much. If the answer is no, likely you'll find this one hard to sit through. With the exception of Closer to the Heart, every track is from Rush's most accessible, synthesizer-driven period. Just based on that fact alone, this isn't one everyone should get.

I liked most of the Rush's 1980s period with the exception of their Hold Your Fire album of 1988. So I found most of this collection an enjoyable listen, particularly the material from Grace Under Pressure. My guess as to why there is hardly any older material on this live set is that it seemed Rush used their live albums to document the previous four studio albums they made, although later live albums would not follow this formula. Besides, these were the songs that were popular among Rush fans in the 1980s, so this is what they focused their live sets on.

Three stars because this isn't for everyone. If you love 1980s Rush, you'll love this.

Report this review (#223090)
Posted Thursday, June 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an excellent addition to any heavy prog rock music collection. There are some really good classics on this album, and there are some things that I do not enjoy on this one. The overall sound quality, though, is very good. It sounds much better than All the Worlds a Stage and Exit...Stage Left because the technology is growing considerably. Geddy Lee's vocals are smooth sounding on this one, and are very forceful when listening closely. The guitar has a chorus on it, and sounds very good, though not distorted too much in this show, thanks to Rush's own Alex Lifeson. Neil Peart plays drums like no other, he is the best of the best. The performance overall seems a little tired, thats probably the only thing that I don't like about this album, but the song selection is great. This is an excellent heavy prog album.
Report this review (#252231)
Posted Sunday, November 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars First of all, I'm a huge fan of the Rush era documented here, let there be no mistake abouth that. To me, this setlist looks equally impressive then those from the 2 previous live albums. However, they give a poor performance, more concerned with sounding right and getting every little piece in the correct place. These songs must have been too hard to play with just 3 musicians, even if they listened to awe-inspiring names like Neil, Alex and Geddy. The programmed synth parts leave no room for any improvisations or changes and the overal sound is too plastic.

Show Of Hands is drained of all the energy that makes their live albums so spectacular. None of the songs here adds anything to the originals, which all sounded better, more precise and more passionate then this lifeless performance. One of the (few) disappointing Rush live albums. The DVD version is a lot more fun. Fans only.

Report this review (#256545)
Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A Show of Hands is a live album release by Canadian progressive rock act Rush. The song selection on the album pre-dominantly represent the four studio albums released in the years 1982 - 1987: Signals (1982), Grace Under Pressure (1984), Power Windows (1985) and Hold Your Fire (1987) with only few excursions into the earlier part of the band´s discography.

In addition to the power trio rock instrumentation of guitar, bass and drums, the album features extensive use of eighties keyboard and synth sounds which might not fall into everyone´s taste. Personally I enjoy the very clinical sound of this period of Rush career. It suits the almost futuristic music that Rush played in those days well. The performance and the sound quality are simply fantastic. Rush are incredible musicians and they are able to 100% reproduce their music in a live environment. Not a wrong note or out of tune vocal part is heard on this album. Actually the songs at times sound a bit too much like their studio counterparts IMO. The production does have the effect that songs like Subdivisions, Turn the Page and Mission really come to live compared to their studio counterparts. Or in other words the songs from Signals and Hold Your Fire come to live. I have slight issues with the production on both studio albums and it´s really great to hear those songs with a powerful sound. The song selection is overall excellent making A Show of Hands a kind of best of eighties Rush album ( excluding the two early eighties albums which both had a very different sound when compared to the four albums predominantly represented here). The only track I miss here is Prime Mover from Hold Your Fire ( one of my alltime favorite Rush tracks), but I guess we all have our favorites and it´s hard to satisfy everyone.

The drum solo track The Rhythm Method doesn´t do much for me though. It´s always impressive to hear great musicians play solo on their instrument but the experience is best enjoyed if you´re actually there and not on an album IMO. Actually it´s seldom I even enjoy it when I´m present. It´s usually when I go to the bar for more beer. I´ve never been much of a fan of Closer to the Heart which is one of the two songs on the album that represents the earlier part of Rush discography, the other being Witch hunt (part III of Fear) from Moving Pictures (1981). The first I could have done without while the latter appear here in a pretty great version that makes its studio counterpart sound somewhat pale in comparison. I could have wished for a better song selection from the early part of Rush discography but I guess most of the songs from that period are covered fine on the two previous live album releases by the band All the World's a Stage (1976) and Exit.....Stage Left (1981).

Rush aren´t the most daring live act out there and on A Show of Hands they seem more or less content with reproducing the sound of their studio albums. I could have wished for a more experimental or playful approach ( the many programmed synth parts make this impossible) but on the other hand the album does have some great qualities that earns it a 3.5 - 4 star rating ( just feast on that bass playing for an example of the high quality playing or the above mentioned powerful versions of songs from Signals and Hold Your Fire). The album makes a good entrance point to the eighties synth heavy part of Rush discography as it is as much a best of compilation for that period as it is a live album.

Report this review (#264137)
Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars With the live account of their synth period you would think the production of this one would be very processed and 80s but that's not the case. This sounds more live than Stage Left and is superior in sound. The song selection is pretty good with no songs going back 1977 but my only problem is that most of the songs were recorded separate from each other so this album does kinda sound a little disjointed. I will say this, this album helped me get into Power Windows(my least appreciated Rush album for a while). Overall, not a bad live album but still not great. 4 and a half stars. Highlights: The Big Money, Subdivisions, Marathon, Turn the Page, Manhattan Project, Distant Early Warning, Mystic Rhythms, Witch Hunt, The Rhythm Method, and Closer to the Heart
Report this review (#518829)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars As had become traditional for Rush by this point, after four studio albums they brought out this live piece to summarise this particular era of their career ranging from Signals to Hold Your Fire. Of course, the problematic aspect here is that half the albums in that range are rather lacklustre efforts on their part, but I still had reason to hold out hope - after all, if the live versions of the tracks showed a bit more flair and style then perhaps the album could be a better way to experience that material.

Alas, in common with too many other live albums from the era A Show of Hands is simply an exercise in wheeling out performances indistinguishable from the studio renditions of the songs in question bar from the ever-present roar of the crowd (which, to be honest, is mixed far too high for my liking). As other reviewers have pointed out, a lot of this is due to the constraints of the synth-heavy period of their sound - with only three musicians onstage, the synth parts had to be largely preprogammed, more or less killing any scope they had to introduce any variation into the songs.

Still, though I understand why the album sounds this lifeless, that still doesn't excuse said lifelessness; as it is, whilst the musical direction the band took in this period sometimes yielded incredible results in the studio (as on my favourite of their synth-heavy albums, Grace Under Pressure), it clearly horribly compromised their live show. Perhaps hiring a guest musician or two to provide backup on the synths might have made for a more organic experience, but then again the trio's chemistry has always been so tight that incorporating more musicians into it would be a dangerous proposition indeed.

Alternately, if the album had included more 80s performances of less synth-dominated parts of their back catalogue it might have gone better - it closes with a reasonable rendition of Closer to the Heart, and the difference between that track the program-locked material before it is striking. But then again, All the World's a Stage and Exit Stage Left had already covered all the best songs from prior eras, and there seems to have been an effort made to avoid duplicating songs presented on those two.

In short, by this stage of their career Rush had written themselves into a corner with their live albums, in that everyone was expecting this release to focus on the tracks from Signals to Grace but the fact was that the songs in question just didn't lend themselves well to live performances. If you already own the studio albums these tracks came from, then you already have more interesting and lively renditions than the tracks in question than the rote runthroughs on offer here.

Report this review (#591862)
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars A Show Of Hands is a quality concert experience and is a summary of the 80s albums "Signals' (1982), "Grace Under Pressure" (1984), "Power Windows" (1985) and "Hold Your Fire" (1987). These albums are not the best of Rush but live the songs tend to be better than the sound on the studio releases. The songs are from "Hold Your Fire" mostly and I believe they are better heard live than on that album so that is a drawcard of this particular recording. It also has a very solid quality sound throughout.

From "Hold Your Fire" the songs appear, Mission, Force Ten, and Turn The Page so there is a lot from their latest at the time.

Closer To The Heart is always present of course along with quintessential The Spirit of Radio. I always love to hear the magnificent Red Sector A and hard rocking Force Ten, and it was great to hear Mission, another one rarely heard live.

Marathon, Manhattan Project and The Big Money from "Power Windows" are good rockers for the crowd to get into. The drum solo by Peart is terrific, with his vibes section and patented cymbal jazz splashes along with some incredible triplet work.

The concert is overall very strong, but it is better to get hold of the DVD which features extra songs and great visuals; one of the best live documents of the band and worth getting hold of above the rest.

Report this review (#764282)
Posted Tuesday, June 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars Further from the heart

Rush's third official live album was recorded at the peak of the band's Synth Rock/New Wave- phase. Radical changes had been made in the band's sound and approach from 1982's Signals onward. Rush was obviously adapting to the musical climate of the 80's with these albums. Representing the albums of this period (Signals, Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows, and Hold Your Fire), and with a track list almost completely focused on songs taken from those albums, A Show Of Hands is fundamentally different from the previous official live album, Exit... Stage Left.

Overall, this is a pretty lifeless live album. There is almost none of that live energy that characterises previous as well as later live albums by the band. Personally, I am not very fond of this period of Rush, but if you are especially interested in this period of Rush live, the recently released Grace Under Pressure Live (CD and DVD) is a much better choice than A Show Of Hands. It has a better track list and more energy. On Grace Under Pressure Live, they managed to take the studio tracks from this era to another level, improving on them, making them a bit rockier and give them more punch. But on A Show Of Hands there is no such tendency. Frankly, I would rather listen to the Hold Your Fire studio album.

This album also represents a band that clearly had given up on their Prog past. The only old track featured here is Closer To The Heart.

A weak point in Rush's live discography.

Report this review (#818845)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars The "four studio = one live" pattern marches on. As one might expect, this album is primarily based around the last four Rush studio albums, which isn't exactly my favorite Rush era of all time. Even worse, there's only ONE song from Signals ("Subdivisions," done mostly the same as before, just like most of the stuff on here), which means that the album primarily concentrates on the very 80's Rush albums that I DON'T like. Throw in another stupid version of "Closer to the Heart" (I really, really, really don't like that song) and this album should utterly blow.

And in parts, it does just that, and yet the album manages to not suck. There are some serious stinkers on here (listening to "Turn the Page," "Manhattan Project" and "Mission" consecutively is my personal equivalent of entering the 8th circle of hell), as expected, but the song selection manages to please me about as much as it possibly could, once I recover from the presence of, again, only ONE Signals track. Bastards. But anyway, Grace rewards my ears with the two standouts ("Distant Early Warning," "Red Sector A"), and I'd go so far as to say that the live version of the latter manages to surpass its studio counterpart. The playing isn't different, but there's a level of intensity and OVERWHELMING desperation in Geddy's singing that the studio version could only hint at. As for the HYF stuff ... er ... well, "Force Ten" is here! Yay!

Best of all, though I never want to suffer through "The Manhattan Project" again, the band also makes sure to throw on the three Power Windows tracks that I loved oh so much. The differences between these and the originals are mostly in the semantics, of course, but if pressed I'd probably say that "The Big Money" is done as well as before, "Marathon" a little worse (the first verse drags a bit too much here) and that "Mystic Rhythms" somehow got EVEN BETTER. Perhaps it's just my ears playing tricks on me, but it almost seems to me that the band managed to loosen up just a smidge for this track, allowing a bit of flow and vitality to seep into the track that wasn't there before. Many might disagree, but I can easily see why the band put this version of the track on their compilation Chronicles instead of the original (which I still love, mind you).

The one big surprise of the album comes right after "MR" - the band brings back "Witch Hunt" (from Pictures) and it also has an energy that I largely missed originally. Alex suddenly gets some crunch back in his guitar, Geddy snaps out the lyrics intensely, and overall it was a large part of what made me go back and give Moving Pictures a bunch of extra listens.

Anyway, that's your album, (except for Neil throwing in the SAME drum solo that he gave on the past two live albums - yeah yeah, I'm sure there are some differences, but do we need this many versions of it??? Bleh). As much as it should bother me in general (I also get irritated at the cover - I don't want to see a cover that emphasizes Geddy behind keyboards rather than playing his bass), much of it manages to be surprisingly decent. At worst, it works as an ok compilation of the last few 80's albums - I'd recommend skipping Grace and HYF in favor of this, but that's just me.

Oh! I forgot about what is EASILY the funnest part of the album! The introductory music is Three Blind Mice! Let's give our Rush-men credit - even when their pretensions become goofily grotesque, they still find a way to not take themselves too seriously. What a bunch of good guys, dorky as they may be.

Report this review (#822529)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2012 | Review Permalink

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