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Rush - Exit... Stage Left CD (album) cover

EXIT... STAGE LEFT

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

4.03 | 554 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars If somebody asked me how to describe a power trio, I would answer that is a group of three lunatics making the job of five or six normal musicians. That's why I believe being part of a band like Rush is a hard task, especially when they have to be on stage. In a studio album is not so hard even for a single man to play all the instruments, but when a you see Geddy Lee playing bass, keyboards and singing almost simultaneously, there's when you know his real value, and believe me he deserves a lot of credit.

Every time I have the chance to listen "Exit...Stage, Left", can't understand how in hell they manage to sound even more powerful than in studio recordings, seems almost as if Lee, Peart and Lifeson are able to canalize the audience energy and multiply themselves to do an outstanding performance.

This album proves that Rush is not a common Art Rock band is much more, blends symphonic, metal and even classical progressive with extreme skills. Even though is not my favorite style, I must recognize they are a solid band that bases their success in a combination of skills, energy and hard work.

"Spirit of Radio" opens the album with a fast intro where the three members show what they are capable of, and Geddy's voice completes the scene, the percussion by master Neil Peart is simply amazing, a track that doesn't leave a second to breathe, simply frantic.

If you believe "Spirit of Radio" is strong, you have to listen this version of "Red Barchetta" with an impeccable bass carrying the weight of the song, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson have the chance to do their job with the confidence that everything sounds alright, the drumming is simply outstanding again a breathtaking track.

"YYZ" is a more rhythmic track somehow reminds me of ELP and King Crimson, especially for the complex introduction. Who ever said Alex Lifeson is not in the level of the other two members, must listen this track and eat his words, he's absolutely perfect. This already makes a good track, but if you add Neil's drum solo, then we are before something special; this guy must have three hands!!! The keyboards at the end of the track create a perfect atmosphere, one of the album's higher points.

"Closer to the Heart" has always been one of my favorite Rush songs, has everything, starts soft with great vocals by Geddy and chorus by the audience the effect is spectacular, the bells by Neil Peart announces a future explosion and the track suddenly changes into a more violent and aggressive even when keeps the soft mood of the start intact. Wonderful track.

"Beneath, Between and Behind" is one of the weakest tracks or maybe it's played in a bad opportunity, at this point of the concert sounds as more of the same, a change is needed, and the change comes in the next track "Jacob's Ladder" which starts with a beautiful and calmed guitar solo while a low voice announces the name of the song. Darker and more mysterious than all the previous prepares the audience for another explosion that never fully develops, a sensual electric guitar section by Alex that merges with Geddy's keyboard which take the lead, makes of this song an unforgettable track that changes the mood of the concert into less Rock & Roll and more progressive, 8:15 minutes of pure Progressive Rock.

When you listen the incredibly beautiful acoustic guitar you know it's time for "Broons Bane", Alex in the pure style of Steve Howe works an introduction for the fantastic "The Trees" that slowly melts with Geddy singing in an unusual (for him) lower tone which later changes to a higher level. I must repeat what I said before the concert is more progressive as the minutes pass, abrupt changes, solid drumming, imaginative lyrics, outstanding bass, everything is in its place.

The introduction of "Xanadu" reminds me of Yes specially Close to the Edge, of course the keyboards are not baroque as Wakeman's but the atmosphere is somehow similar even when more spacey, again a burst of energy announced by Neil's percussion and when you believe they will never explode, Alex shows the way, but it's somehow controlled. A 12 minutes epic also very progressive oriented with constant changes in speed and mood, a very atmospheric track. At the end again that Close to the Edge inspiration is clear.

"Freewill" sounds boring at this point, not for the song itself but again because the moment is not the correct, in the first half of the concert would have been ok but here it's again more of the same.

There's no Rush concert without "Tom Sawyer" the mysterious keyboards of this tune are a trademark and a tradition, IMHO not the best of their songs, but it's like Yes and Roundabout or ELP and Lucky Man, not their best stuff but there's no real concert without them.

The album ends with "La Villa Strangiato" a very atmospheric start that goes in crescendo until a point when they reach a controlled aggressiveness, based in guitar work; the perfect closer for a great album.

I used to believe "Exit...Left Stage" was their best live album until "Rush in Rio" was released, but still is an essential recording by the Canadian trio that has a place in every decent musical collection.

I was tempted to give 5 stars but I'll probably reserve that rating for Rush in Rio or one, maybe two of the spectacular studio albums.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |

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