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Rush Different Stages - Live album cover
4.34 | 423 ratings | 35 reviews | 56% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Live, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc one: 70:56
1. Dreamline (5:34)
2. Limelight (4:36)
3. Driven (5:16)
4. Bravado (6:23)
5. Animate (6:28)
6. Show Don't Tell (5:29)
7. The Trees (5:28)
8. Nobody's Hero (5:00)
9. Closer To The Heart (5:13)
10. 2112: 21:29
I) Overture (4:32)
II) The Temples Of Syrinx (2:20)
III) Discovery (4:17)
IV) Presentation (3:40)
V) Oracle: The Dream (1:49)
VI) Soliloquy (2:07)
VII) Grand Finale (2:37)

Disc two: 64:06 Japan (68:53)
1. Test For Echo (6:15)
2. Analog kid (5:14)
3. Freewill (5:36)
4. Roll the bones (5:58)
5. Stick it out (4:42)
6. Resist (4:27)
7. Leave that thing alone (4:46)
8. The rhythm method 1997 (8:19)
9. Natural science (8:06)
Bonus track on Japanese release
10. Force ten (4:47)
11. The spirit of radio (5:18)
12. Tom Sawyer (5:25)

Disc three: 62:26
1. Bastille Day (5:00)
2. By-Tor and the snow dog (5:05)
3. Xanadu (12:17)
4. Farewell to kings (6:07)
5. Something for nothing (4:01)
6. Cygnus X-1 (10:23)
7. Anthem (4:39)
8. Working man (4:07)
9. Fly by night (2:04)
10. In the mood (3:34)
11. Cinderella man (5:09)

Total Time: 197:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Geddy Lee / basses, bass pedals, synthesizers, vocals
- Alex Lifeson / guitars, bass pedals, backing vocals
- Neil Peart / drums, percussion

Releases information

3x cd: Atlantic 83122

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Snow Dog for the last updates
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RUSH Different Stages - Live ratings distribution

(423 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(56%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (10%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

RUSH Different Stages - Live reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
4 stars Now here is a real swing that I would categorize in the essential category. This package contains 2 live CD's from their latest tour and a bonus CD from 1978 when RUSH were just kiddie boo-boo's. The first 2 CD's explore their vast archives performing great versions of many of their classics. This live recording was very well mic'd and the speaker seperation is superb not to mention the superior sound quality. The 3rd CD is a limited time freebee and captures RUSH back in their youth performing some long lost gems. The crowd noise is at the right level for me here and never interferes with the songs, but still giving that live feel. The songs are full of life and energy and you won't believe the feeling this release gives the listener. Essential Prog especially for RUSH fans.
Review by chessman
5 stars Well, here we are with another superb live album. Too many highlights to name. The band are in fine fettle all the way here. One thing though, as good as Closer To The Heart is, does it have to appear on every live one? A must for fans though.
Review by richardh
5 stars With live albums you only need to ask 2 questions.Does it have the best songs? Does it have acceptable sound quality? Here in both cases the answer is definetly yes.This is as great a colection of Rush songs that you can hope to get on a double CD set.The only real ommission is Xanadu which would have made absolutely perfect but that is a minor quibble.The band are totally awesome throughout but what makes this worth buying is the enhanced sound quality which is far better than 'Rush in Rio' I've honestly never heard any band sound so dynamic and powerful.This is wonderful! And if that wasnt't enough you get a bonus disc of Rush playing at Hammersmith Odeon in 1978,and that does include Xanadu!!
Review by Marc Baum
5 stars Ladies & Gentleman, what we have here is the greatest live record by one of the best live bands in the world. A mammoth triple cd, with a full length time of 3,5 hours, that includes nearly all quintessential material Rush created in their over 30 years long career. The most interestening thing is that the third cd is the legendary '78 show in London, only here presented, awaited long time by many fans and there it is. Rush recorded 5 live albums: "All The World's A Stage", "Exit...Stage Left", "A Show Of Hands", "Different Stages" and the actually "Rush In Rio", which is also an enjoyable triple live output, but "Different Stages" sounds more natural and got the (in my oppinion) better playlist. Of course, you can't get wrong with a tracklist by Rush, because they don't have weak songs, but here are some all-time faves like "Anthem" (for what I waited long to hear it live), "Fly By Night", "Farewell To Kings", "Xanadu" or (down on your knees!) the complete "2112" epic included. If you just want one Rush live record (at least one is a must by this band!), this should it be. "Different Stages" presents Rush in ultimative top form: powerful band sound, which wasn't manipulated in the studio, like earlier Rush live albums. It documets the timeless genius of the band with sounding brilliance, which many sound- engineers could bring into suicide. Between the recordings of Disc 1 + 2 & 3 is a timeline of 20 years, but you can't find a difference when you look at the passion, power, perfection and atmosphere, how Rush perform their music. One argument more to carry Rush for the creation of musically timeless travelling up onto the throne of rock knights! Rush are technically the best rock power-trio in the 70's, 80's & 90's on the planet, hopefully they will carry this with them very long into the future...
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Somehow this huge 3CD encyclopedia of Rush live recordings was a big disappointment to me. The first two discs contain recordings from their "Test for Echo" tour bring us a wide palette of their 1990's songs, which are good as compositions, but they don't sound specifically interesting to my ears when compared to the studio versions of these tracks. Also "2112" was probably a great experience to listen in the concert, but from the stereos I prefer the original studio version with multitrack recordings. Especially the beginning gets quite flat without three guitars. Then 1978 concert seems unnecessary bonus material here, as it doesn't offer for the listener the best outtakes from this period of the band which I have heard, so this box set is in my opinion outshadowed by many other official live releases of Rush: "Exit...Stage Left", "A Show of Hands" and "Rush in Rio". Maybe releasing these two lives as two separate releases would also have been fairer, as some fans of this band who like their 1970's material don't like their 1990's stuff. Though many reviewers are very excited about this live set, I would personally recommend you to prelisten this expensive box before buying it blindly.
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is the ultimate Rush live album. A killer set list and overall incredible musicianship brings this one above all the rest. A great balance between new and old is provided, and this is the only live album to feature 2112 in its entirety (even Discovery is featured). The band has a knack for playing superb renditions of their greatest songs, and they continue that trend as they play through the Test for Echo tour with style and flare. At the time of its release, Neil Peart had lost his wife and daughter, and in the tri-fold inlay, there is a lyric from the GUP song Afterimage.

From the opening riff of Dreamline in 1997 to the closing riff in Cinderella Man in 1978, there is nothing to be disappointed about with this masterpiece of live music. The tuned down 2112 is a treat, and Alex plays superbly during his extended version of Discovery. Great playing is also shown from Peart on his standard drum solo, this one titled The Rhythm Method 1997, and it also revives older sections from solos he did in the past (which he does today, as well). Geddy's voice is at its best and his bass playing is nothing less than superb. The Farewell to Kings tour set is also superb, with old classics being played. My favorite of the tracks there is Xanadu, which is very similar to its Exit... Stage Left counterpart.

I recommend this to any fan of live albums. It is the most varied and most adventurous live album they've done in terms of material played. 5/5.

Review by erik neuteboom
5 stars This is one of the best registrations from Rush live and an excellent introduction to Rush for those who don't know their dynamic and pivotal sound!

CD1 and CD2 contain 3 songs from the "Counterparts" tour from 1994 ("Bravado", "Show don't tell" and "Analog kid") and 17 songs from the "Test for echo" tour from 1997. The most ecixiting musical surprise from Rush to their super loyal fans was the full version of their heavy progressive epic "2112". This rendition sounds great featuring a powerful and inventive rhythm-section and excellent, very propulsive and varied guitarplay. Only the vocals sound a bit too polished to me. Most of the post-"Power windows" tracks are not my cup of tea but I'm delighted about "Driven", the killer guitar riff can compete with the best from Jimmy Page! Most 'classics' are performed very well with some slight changes like surprising acoustic guitarwork in "The trees" and a splendid improvisation in "Closer to the heart". Tracks like "Natural science", "Freewill", "The spirit of the radio" and "Tom Sawyer" showcases the innovative and exciting 'power-symphonic rock" (inspired by mid-Genesis) featuring outstanding interplay from the trio, floods of sensational guitar soli (often biting and wah- wah drenched) and excellent, very dynamic work on bass and drums, so distinctive! CD3 contains a concert from the "A farewell to kings" tour in 1978 in the UK (Hammersmith Odeon in London), enjoy those magnificent 'heavy progressive ' compositions like "Xanadu" (swirling interplay and fine use of synthesizers) and Cygnus X-1 " (what a build-up and climax!) along 'oldies' like "Bastille day", "By-or & The Snow Dog" and the stage favorite "In the mood" (great to see hardrock fans and progheads together screaming and headbanging!).


Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wow! What an excellent live set album containing three discs. From the album title itself it's self explanatory that this concert must have been done at three different stages. 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 is the 1978 show.

As I always mention in my previous reviews I love live records, so this review must be biased towards my personal taste. In addition, I love the music of Rush which to me meaning "energy" which typically sparks the light to start the day. I remember the time when I always play "The Spirit of Radio" before starting the day. Yeah . "Begin the day with a friendly voice .." is not just applicable for radio broadcaster but it also applies to all other profession. After that I play "Without Hope You Can Not Start The Day" of Yes "Union" album. Wow! What a great thing to start the day with prog spirit!

This live set is also a favorite of mine not only the music but also I really enjoy to see the package which is designed like a three-LP set - really nice; with cover artwork that is so simple but brings with it a clear message. Sometime I bring this package to the office and opened it, unfolded, and make it stood out on top of my desk so people who pass around my office will see the message: "This is the desk of prog rocker who loves RUSH! - Stay away if you don't like this Canadian band!". So if you want my address is number one at the end corner of the office with "Three Different Stages" cardboard package on top of the desk . and it's the only desk having this sort of great artifacts!

Let's talk about the music. The live set opener is "Dreamline" from Roll The Bones album that begins this is raw Rush. On studio version this is not exactly my fave track but this version is kicking. "Animate" from Counterparts album is truly my favorite stuff. I like the flow as well as textures that move along with the music. I love both versions: studio as well as this live set. But the live version is much powerful as it casts higher energy. Rush shows his muscular sound beautifully.

The band also shows different eras with " The Trees" - "Nobody's Hero" - "Closer To The Heart" and well known "2112" at Disc one. This reminds us on the various music approaches the band had made in its history which evolved over time. What I also love is the "Natural Science" which has been my favorite and also "Live That Thing Alone". I don't need to tell you track by track about this live set but it's definitely an excellent live set that satisfies the musical taste of those who like heavier part of prog rock. Oh yeah, there are also "Working Man" and "Cygnus X-1" which are performed wonderfully.

My dear prog friends, please buy this CD as this is an excellent one. I have no financial interest with the label but I want people know that spending their dollars with this album is a wise decision. But . "Leave That Thing Alone" . oops . sorry I mean . I leave it up to you to decide and please .Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars This is a very strong, consistent, and possibly the band's most professional live album ("Rush in Rio" being their most exciting). It showcases some truly amazing playing from all members and songs from across most of their career (with the inclusion of the bonus 3rd disc). They sound tight, cohesive, and very much in the zone.

In a live setting, one can really hear how awesome Rush's sound really is; their playing is just colossal, and perhaps more likely to attract fans than the sometimes over-produced sound of their studio albums. Standouts include "Dreamline", the extended version of "Closer to the Heart", the most amazing recorded version of "2112" (in its entirety!) and the always excellent "YYZ".

Expect to be amazed and energized!

Setlist 4 Instrumental Performances 5 Stage Energy 4 Live Experience 5

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a 3-disc document of the live Rush experience. The first two discs contain more recent material that is a mixed bag. Some songs hit big while others miss. Somehow the sound of modern day Rush and the pace of some of their live material here just doesn't cut it to me. They need less "noise" in the mix, more warmth to the sound and in some places a little kick in the butt to get the speed right. Altering the speed intentionally for effect can be useful but the slower versions of a few tracks here detract from the original.

The 3rd disc though is a real treasure, a pretty killer show from 1978. This is nearly the Holy Grail for Rush fans, the only tour that could possibly be better to the prog-era Rush fans would be the Hemispheres tour. C'mon guys, give us a full length uncut DVD video of a show from the Hemispheres tour-now that would be something! I bet somebody filmed at least one show from the Hemispheres or P. Waves tours.

The 3rd disc makes this nearly essential to the Rush fan but for everyone else this is 3 star territory.

Review by ghost_of_morphy
5 stars If you only get one Rush album, this is the one to get. Seriously. Even for a band noted for the excellence of their live performances, this collection of songs from three tours goes far beyond expectations in the quality of the performances and the sets give an amazing overview of Rush's career. These guys make the songs sound BETTER live. Listen to Analog Kid (for just one example) on the second disc and I'll defy you to tell me that you prefer the studio version. All in all, the best sounding live album that I've heard in a long time. If only they'd included "Subdivisions"....
Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Encyclopedia Rush-tanica: 1974-1996

To celebrate the release of the new Live Rush offering (S&A Live) I've decided to revisit an old friend of mine. This is the kind of friend that over the years you have less and less time for, but whenever you see them (or in this case, hear them I suppose) it evokes such fond memories. This is an album that I bought by chance several years ago after I received pay for my first (paying) gig in the career I would later pursue; so I ran out to the record store to find this - an album that I'd been searching for for so long already based sheerly on it's awesome cover art. Simple and yet mathematical, childish, dense and welcoming all at once. Looking at the track listing also I knew this would be something of a dream come true as an up and coming Rush fanatic, especially with the third disc included.

And so it went - the album followed me everywhere. I played it at home, at work, on my way to and from school, having enough material on it that as soon as I got to the third disc I'd be wanting to hear the first again. Indeed, it's this album that turned me from a Rush fan to a rabid Rush fanatic. Which is why I would eventually choose it as my avatar when I joined Prog Archives, a site that I would come across while looking for more Rush over the web. Go figure.

So the album is monumental in my life, So what!? Many of you may ask, well:

It is such for a very good reason. This is an amazing effort by the legendary Canadian three piece, and at the time of it's release, almost the final effort by them. Following the less than stellar Test For Echo people might have been wondering what the material would sound like live. Well, the band truly managed to bring everything to life here. And really, it's less of a tour to promote one album and more of a tour to play their old material after having evolved and matured as musicians.

One thing I've always admired about the band is that they're always able to make their music fresh. Each recording of Closer To The Heart for example, sounds completely different from the next, and I especially love this version which includes almost 3 minutes of jam-time at the end of the song (topped only by the A Show Of Hands version of the song). Rush always plays the music as if they'd recorded it the day before.

This album features a ton of material - although that's to be expected when it's a three disc set. There's a lot of variety, especially since the band plays a couple of tracks which hardly ever make it to the live album set-lists. A couple of gems to be had here include Show Don't Tell (one of the best tracks from Presto), Nobody's Hero (from the already amazing Counterparts) and 2112 in its entirety (something most prog fans will appreciate)! And that's just the first disc.

The second disc has much much more material to cover. The versions of Test For Echo and Driven presented here are FAR superior to their studio counterparts, and songs like Stick It Out and Leave That Thing Alone get wonderful treatment even if they didn't need to be improved upon in the first place! Although for the prog-heads out there the biggest draw will likely be the addition of the usual Fan Favorites as well as longer tracks like Peart's The Rhythm Method and the energetic Natural Science.

But wait, there's more.

The third disc (if the others didn't interest you) is what will really draw in the proggers. Taken from a concert recorded in 1978, the third disc shows the band in their progressive golden age. Imagine the energy and spirit from All The World's A Stage combined with the musical prowess and prestige of Exit... Stage Left - that's basically what we have here.

The standouts on the disc are many. Mini-epics (that Rush excel so well in) like Xanadu and Cygnus X-1 are played here with such ferocity that one would think that they were trying to take over the Earth! The shorter tracks are all well done also, especially the abridged version of By-Tor and The Snow Dog, the excellent A Farewell To Kings and the ''lost'' Cinderella Man (which has always been a favorite of mine anyways).


As I said in my review of Exit...Stage Left there's not many live albums that I've found that are worthy of the five star mark -- but this is one of them. If you're going to buy one live Rush album it had better be this one, as it is an amazing catalog of their works up until 1996 and includes a double disc-modern Rush live album coupled with a Classic-era Rush live album. In terms of performance -- incredible. Rush have always been a live band, and this is no exception.

Unless you dislike Rush this is an essential piece of music to your library.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
5 stars After releasing three live albums that spanned four studio albums each, dating from 1976 (All the World's a Stage), 1981 (Exit... Stage Left), and 1989 (A Show of Hands), Rush releases it's first live album in nine years with 1998's Different Stages. Unlike previous live albums which focused strongly on the preceding four studio albums it represented, Different Stages covers the whole of Rush's lengthy career. In this 3-CD set, the first two discs are from 1994 Counterparts and 1997 Test for Echo tours. The third disc is from the 1978 A Farewell to Kings tour.

This fabulous collections covers material from Rush's progressive days up to their Test for Echo album. Each period of the group's history is well represented by the group's best tracks from each period. So, all in all, the vast majority of it is progressive to their modern songs that lean heavily towards the progressive.

The production and recording is top-notch and the performances are very nicely done. Different Stages is Rush's answer to Yes' Yessongs and Genesis' Seconds Out, only it was released decades later. A must have for every Rush fan and a rare genuine live album masterpiece of which very few reach this caliber.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's interesting to see how Different Stages is the highest rated Rush live album, even though it mainly documents some of their lowest rated albums. The reason can't be the choice of songs or the more powerful live sound. No, it clearly got something to do with that nice little bonus called cd3, "Hammersmith Odeon, 1978"!

So we get a lavish 3cd packaging here, which was quite a treat back in 1998. But what about the content?

A mixed bag for me. The playing is stellar throughout, like a well-oiled machine, but I'm not too fond of the very loud mastering. There's no body and warmth in the sound, it's a too obtrusive clutter of mid-range frequency. The 'i-pod' or rather 'ear-phone' sound. Dreadful, you'll be tune-deaf after less then half an hour.

All songs stick true to the originals. Rush isn't a band engaging in wild live jams. Apart from an occasional flash such as the extended bass guitar part in Driven, there are no surprises here. Still, I very much enjoy the live rendition of some of the recent songs. Dreamline and Bravado are just two examples where the added live energy breathes new life into songs that were rather stale on the studio albums.

Geddy's vocal pitch has lowered a bit to a warmer and fuller tone, much to the appreciation of my wife who usually needs to block out Geddy's voice to be able to appreciate anything Rush. I'm sure there are more people with similar problems. But the changed vocal range is quite problematic on some of the older songs. Limelight sounds rather bland frankly, and songs like The Trees and The Temple Of Syrinx are disappointing. On the intense moments Geddy is either off-pitch or has to resort to alternate melodies that simply don't work.

There are exceptions. Freewill is performed most convincingly, these guys must have played this tune a 1000 times already but still they are focussed and enthusiastic. True professionals! The highlight must be Natural Science, which makes more impact on me here then on Permanent Waves.

CD3 brings us back to the old days and is a nice gem for the fans. The setlist isn't entirely satisfying though. The songs from Farewell To Kings are still very true to the originals and the string of encores doesn't bring out a very inspired performance. It's a nice to have but there are much more interesting '78-'79 concerts available.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Where to start. RUSH has until recently been releasing a live album after every four studio records, and those live albums would focus almost exclusively on the songs from the previous four studio albums. "Exit Stage Left" is my favourite live RUSH album mainly because like most RUSH fans that's my favourite period of the band. This particular live recording is an unprecidented (for RUSH) 3 albums worth of music. And unlike past live albums the songs here are from every era of the band except for the post "Signals" synth period of the band (thankyou). Most of the songs are from the "Test For Echo" tour. Now for most that would be a disappointment but I still hold that album in high esteem and maybe in part that's why I love this recording so much.

I have to say that when this was released in 1998 the band didn't really know if they would be playing again. Neil had lost both his daughter and wife and everything was in limbo. In the liner notes it says " were gone...from all the lives you left your mark upon".Then below that it says "In loving memory of Jackie and Selena". So there's no doubt that the band swayed from the norm here because of the situation to give the fans almost a retrospective of their careers that was in danger of being done.The third disc is really a bonus from the "A Farewell To Kings" tour in 1978 at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, England.The raw power and aggression is staggering after listening to the first two discs. Especially Geddy of course who's screaming his head off. Neil's drums are more upfront on this one too. All three of the guys are on fire as they rip through these songs from their first five studio albums. What I like as well about all three discs is that the crowd is very upfront in the sound. I know lots of people who don't like it, but man it gives you a taste of what it's like at a real RUSH concert. I mean almost from start to finish the crowd is yelling, singing, clapping, headbanging and many I know have tears in their eyes as they witness their heroes light the stage on fire with amazing virtuosity and power. I've been in the middle of 450,000 screaming people to witness this first hand at SarsStock in Toronto back on 2003. Also in the front row at the triumphant return of this band to Toronto on the "Vapor Trails" tour. Yeah I love hearing the crowd going nuts.

I don't even know where to begin as far as the music goes because there are so many highlights. I wanted to mention the cd sleeve for the third bonus disc that shows the Hammersmith Odeon theater with Geddy out front scalping RUSH tickets, while Alex is being carried away by men in white coats to the insane asylum, while Neil watches out the window upstairs in the theater. Funny stuff. Terry Brown engineered this disc and epics like "Xanadu" and "Cygnus X-1" are killer ! "Farewell To Kings" sounds incredible around 3 1/2 minutes with the upfront bass, ripping guitar and pounding drums. Every track though has Geddy's bass just booming and I love it. Check out "In The Mood" at the 3 minute mark. Insane !

Disc One begins with "Dreamline" which is the only track RUSH played at SarsStock that wasn't from the "Farewell To Kings" to "Moving Pictures" period. Oh besides the "Painted Black" cover. I have to mention the complete "2112" epic here in it's entirety. Man I had that cranked on the way to work today. My ears haven't been buzzing like that for a while. "Analog Kid" is another highlight. Huge bass as usual. All of the "Test For Echo" tracks sound amazing. "Freewill" is my favourite RUSH track and they nail it. Oh and Neil's drum solo blew me away. I'm not into drum solos usually but this was amazing, and it ended with a gong. I can't forget "Natural Science" either.

So a definite 4 stars. It's far from perfect. It's too long and it includes some songs that I wouldn't have included but hey it's RUSH, the greatest band on the planet.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Bravado!

If you happen to have read some of my reviews of the post-Moving Pictures Rush albums, you have probably noticed that I'm not a very big fan of either the Synth-Pop/New Wave sound they adopted with Signals in the early 80's nor of the Alternative Rock/Grunge sound they adopted with Counterparts in the early 90's. Even though there are a couple of good studio albums to be found in the Rush discography after the end of the classic period (1976- 1981), particularly 1989's Presto and 1996's Test For Echo, and that most of their albums hold at least some good individual tracks, post-Moving Pictures Rush have never been too interesting for me in general. In the studio, that is! As a live band, on the other hand, Rush has continued to be a force to be reckoned with over the decades.

Recorded on tour in support of the unfairly dismissed Test For Echo (Rush's best album of the 90's, in my opinion), Different Stages is a good live album featuring a fine selection of some of the best tracks from the band's 90's albums plus some from the 80's as well as a couple of 70's classics, including a storming rendition of the complete 2112 suite! If you lost touch with Rush somewhere in the mid 80's, Different Stages is a very good place to rekindle the flame. Indeed, this live album is in many ways a good replacement for the band's 90's studio albums from which the bulk of these songs were taken. If you get this live album, you don't really need studio albums like Roll The Bones, Counterparts and Test For Echo, as the best tracks from these albums are all here, often in improved versions. Three tracks were taken from Test For Echo, the best of which is the superb ballad Resist. As I pointed out in my review of that album, Resist is one of the very few post-Moving Pictures Rush songs, possibly the only one, that really sounds like a classic to me. Driven and the title-track are in a different division altogether, but not bad at all as such. Counterparts is represented with no less than four songs, the best of which is Animate and the semi-ballad Nobody's Hero. I was never a fan of that studio album, but I don't dislike what is here. Roll The Bones was another very weak studio album, but again they have managed to some of the better tracks from it here. Unfortunately, they did not remove the awful Rap-section (sic!) of the title-track, which is of course pre-recorded and played out to the audience from the speakers. Very lame, if you ask me! Another little blunder is the tedious, eight minute plus drum solo. Don't get me wrong, I have the greatest respect for Neil Peart and I think he is a truly fantastic drummer indeed. But while drum solos function pretty well on live videos, I have never enjoyed them on audio-only recordings.

To sum up. In my opinion, there is simply too much focus on the band's 90's albums and too little from the classic era for this live recording to be really essential. Only three songs are from the 70's (admittedly one of them is very long, but still) and these stand out so much from the rest that the decline of the band since then becomes painfully evident while listening to this album despite the fact that this set list is almost a greatest hits of the late 80's and 90's. In terms of progressive Rock, this album is not plentiful. The aforementioned 2112 suite as well as the great Natural Science from 1980's Permanent Waves represents Rush's progressive side.

Good, but non-essential

(I should mention that the bonus disc contains a live recording from 1978, that I have yet to hear.)

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is the way to listen to Rush!

The best Rush live album is a 3 CD feast of all that is great about the power trio. The CDs are all over an hour of pure proto metal and feature a wide variety of tracks from most of the classic albums. It works as a kind of live greatest Rush tracks as this features the legendary songs that have made them so popular.

There have been other live albums of course, namely 1976 All the World's a Stage, 1981 Exit... Stage Left, and 1989 A Show of Hands but those albums are more or less promotional tools when the band were touring respective albums. Nine years later they have released this penultimate live experience and unlike previous live albums this one features a much greater range of tracks spannign all their albums. The live tracks featured are taken from classic Rush as well as the more recent at the time 1994 Counterparts and 1997 Test for Echo tours. CD 3 is a terrific nostalgic romp through the classic material performed during 1978 A Farewell to Kings tour.

There are no complaints if you are into high quality proto metal or prog. Highlights include: on CD 1 - Nobody's Hero (5:00); Closer To The Heart (5:13); 2112: (21:29) the full vesion! On Cd 2 Test For Echo (6:15); Freewill (5:36); Leave that thing alone (4:46); Natural science (8:06) - the first time I had heard this leading me to buy the actual album. On CD 3 Bastille Day (5:00); By-Tor and the snow dog (5:05); Xanadu (12:17); Farewell to kings (6:07); Cygnus X-1 (10:23); Anthem (4:39).

With all those highlights and more this is an irresistible album for the Rush addict. I rate it as high as possible as it the absolute best live record for the band thus far.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Compiled by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson whilst Neal Peart struggled to come to terms with a series of tragic events in his family life, there was a time when it appeared that Different Stages might be the final release by Rush. Happily, Peart's emotional recovery meant that this wasn't the case, but if this triple live album had been the band's last words, then they'd have gone out on a high.

The first two discs are drawn from the tours for Counterparts and Test For Echo, with most songs being drawn from a single performance in 1997 with a few exceptions here and there. These showcase Rush giving their heaviest performances since the 1970s - if not of their whole career - with classic songs being given note-perfect live renditions (including a complete run-through of 2112!) and newer songs being given a much-needed shot in the arm, transforming them from their comparatively sterile studio versions into pieces worthy of sharing a setlist with the band's best songs. This, frankly, is the best way to listen to the post-Grace Under Pressure songs included here, and if the release had been rounded off with just these two discs it'd still be decent value for money. It's not perfect - the 'rap' section in Roll the Bones still sounds goofy, there's a really tedious drum solo midway through the second disc, and the classic songs still rather outshine the newer material - but it's Rush sounding back on form for the first time in over a decade, so the first two discs would earn three stars on their own.

The third disc documents a barnstorming show in London during the Farewell to Kings tour. This is very much worth having for any fan of early (pre-Permanent Waves) Rush, and I'd say it's even a better live document of that period of their career than the hastily recorded All the World's a Stage. The band give a performance which is at once heavier and yet at the same time more technically proficient than on that album, adding little flourishes to already complex compositions and rocking the hell out of the selections from their first three albums. In fact, I'd say that the versions of Bastille Day, By-Tor and the Snow Dog, and the other pre-2112 songs here are the definitive recordings of those tracks. As for the fresher material, Something for Nothing is - rather surprisingly - the only 2112 track featured, whilst four songs from Farewell to Kings are presented, the band proving on tracks like Xanadu or Cygnus X-1 that they were fully capable of realising even their most complex compositions on stage.

On the whole, then, a very credible three-plus star performance from the 1990s and a bonus disc of five star 1970s material makes me think a four star rating is more than fair. Different Stages really puts Rush's 1990s studio albums to shame when you compare these lively, energetic renditions of that material to the versions on Roll the Bones, Test for Echo and Counterparts, and comes highly recommended to all Rush fans who like the heavier side of their work; that said, I personally find I keep revisiting the 1970s disc much more than I do the 1990s set.

Review by patrickq
3 stars This three-disk set is really two albums: a double album with songs recorded from various concerts in 1994 and 1997, and a third disk of live songs recorded at a 1978 show.

Disks 1 and 2

A Show of Hands and Different Stages: Live are Rush's best live albums. Through 1988, the band reliably released one live double album after each four studio albums. Each of these live albums was made up of songs from those four prior albums (with one exception on A Show of Hands).

However, only half of the songs from Different Stages: Live are from the band's four prior albums; the other half are from 1976 through 1987. I guess by the mid-1990s, Rush was playing fewer and fewer new songs in concert. Their record company may have figured that a multi-disk live Rush album might sell a lot more copies if it contained "Tom Sawyer" and "The Spirit of Radio."

But what that means is a less reliance on some of their weaker material, and more room for "The Analog Kid," which wasn't on A Show of Hands, and all twenty-plus minutes of "2112." At the same time, it does contain some good latter-day songs like "Dreamline" and "Show Don't Tell."

It should be no surprise that the performances on these tracks from the 1990s are excellent. To begin with, it's Rush. They're great musicians who design their songs to be played live, then rehearse like mad. Nearly any detail that the three band members can't reproduce live is prerecorded or sequenced. Then they pick the best concerts from among almost three hundred shows across four tours, and even then, they could always re-record any part they wanted to. They mix the album for CD, and it sounds fantastic.

Disk 3

Based on the information on about the Farewell to Kings tour, the 1978 show is incomplete, excluding a "2112" medley, "Closer to the Heart" (versions of both of which are elsewhere on Different Stages), "Lakeside Park," and the drum solo.

Although it's a "bonus disk," you're paying for it. You can have All the World's a Stage, Exit... Stage Left, and A Show of Hands - - three double albums - - for a total of $11.97 on itunes or $13.97 on Amazon. Different Stages: Live costs $34.99! Unfortunately, you can't buy all of the 1978 songs individually - - to get "Xanadu" and "Cygnus" you have to buy the whole thing. So I disagree that critically examining the third disk is looking the so-called gift horse in the mouth.

As it turns out, the third disk is also well done, though not as polished. Singer/bassist Geddy Lee strains a bit to hit the high notes; but on the other hand, here the band is playing everything (or practically everything) live, and apparently without overdubs.


On the whole, a good album whose highlight is the 1978 show on the third disk. These recordings add very little to the studio versions, but are very well performed. Different Stages: Live also seems a bit overpriced compared to the band's other live albums.

Review by fuxi
5 stars Even though I first started listening to prog in 1975 and immediately got hooked on Yes, Genesis and the Canterbury Scene, I never met anyone who was into Rush and didn't start listening to the Canadians until we were well into the new millennium. I guess I thought Rush were a rather dubious heavy metal band. When I went to university in the late 1970s, the air around me was full of Blondie, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen and the Police, and none of the music papers I read had a good word to say about Rush. It was only after I discovered Prog Archives and noticed that Rush kept popping up in 'best of' lists that I decided to give them a chance. First I played some of their classic albums from 1977 to 1981, and when I quite seemed to enjoy those, I watched the documentary BEYOND THE LIGHTED STAGE. The more I found out about the band, the more they fascinated me. That three musicians from relatively anonymous neighbourhoods in Ontario had the guts to set 'Kubla Khan' to music and did so convincingly (I'd even say unforgettably)... I found it breathtaking. In fact, I thought the band so likable I started buying one live DVD after another. (I also appreciated that Rush could send themselves up mercilessly. How many box office heroes have done the same, tour after tour?)

Now the big question that confronted me was which live album I should get. EXIT STAGE LEFT sounded a little sterile, so after consulting a range of reviews I finally settled for DIFFERENT STAGES LIVE. This turned out to be my single best purchase of 2019. Not only does it contain almost all the classic Rush I've come to love (in riveting live performances), it also features a large number of catchy but more conventional rock songs (mainly dating from the 1980s and 1990s) that I greatly enjoy, such as 'Bravado', 'Animate', 'Analog Kid' and 'Roll the Bones'. I'm convinced that if the tunes in question had been recorded by perhaps more universally popular acts like David Bowie or U2, Bowie/Bono fans would have fallen for them without exception. So don't tell me that when Rush went into their more 'commercial' phase they lost inspiration. (The only album of theirs I find painfully overrated is their final studio album, CLOCKWORK ANGELS, which simply does nothing for me.)

It's really strange how a man's life goes... At the age of fifty-nine I seem to like nothing better than Rameau and Berlioz; at the same time nothing cheers me up more than half an hour of Rush - two things I never expected when I was in my teens and twenties. So, in conclusion, let me say this. All three parts of DIFFERENT STAGES LIVE are highly enjoyable. Even the grandiose (and, let's face it, rather silly) '2112' is included in full. (I defy you not to start headbanging to this.) My only regret is that no space was found for 'La Villa Strangiato'. I wouldn't mind if the final few encores on Disc 3 had been dropped for that.

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Report this review (#1092373) | Posted by sinslice | Thursday, December 19, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Can anyone say best live album of the 1990's? Well, I can say that abou this superb live album by Rush. It's 2 discs with a full bonus disc from 1977. So, the first 2 discs are mostly from 1994-1997 shows and are excellent. They all flow together well, being the setlist is always excellent ... (read more)

Report this review (#252232) | Posted by Rushlover13 | Sunday, November 22, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Prog Arcives warns us, with prudence, about giving sparingly the 5-star rating to the albums we review, considering our enthusiasm could distort our judgement. But there´s rarely an ocassion when that advice is not necessary, as in this case. Simply a superlative live album. This is the best ... (read more)

Report this review (#199501) | Posted by Francisco Perez | Saturday, January 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have just re-found a review I did of this album in a web fanzine I ran 8- 10 years ago. I am including that review and hundreds of other reviews on my homepage. So I better listen to it again. I was full of praise of this live album when it was released. I loved it and gave it full score. It ... (read more)

Report this review (#186298) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, October 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars RUSH's Different Stages album wraps up their 90's era musical phase, which I call their "Contemporary period". Albums included are Presto (1989), Roll the Bones (1991), Counterparts (1993), Test for Echo (1996), and Different Stages "Live" (1998). With the prospect of working on the next new ... (read more)

Report this review (#181910) | Posted by Analog Kid | Saturday, September 6, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This will be too big dose of Rush for anyone but hard Rush fans. It is three disc edition and can go boring a bit. Songs are from different phases of Rush music, but they are here played in same production style, so in the moment it gets hard to distinguish songs that are much different on album ... (read more)

Report this review (#142501) | Posted by nisandzic | Sunday, October 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars When listening to live CD's I don't really listen for how good the songs are, that's what the studios are for, but I usually listen for how good the band sounds aside from thier studio technology dependency. Rush is known to be one of the best live preformers among most bands, and Different Stages ... (read more)

Report this review (#93271) | Posted by Xeroth | Tuesday, October 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a positively astonishing live triple album from the boys from Toronto. The perfect balance between the crowd's energy and sound quality is hard to achieve, but Rush perfected it here. The crowd augments the already immense energy of the songs. Check the 2112 overture for a perfect example ... (read more)

Report this review (#89359) | Posted by billbuckner | Saturday, September 9, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Rarely does a live recording manage to capture the very essence of a band like Different Stages does for RUSH. This three disc set, containing over three hours of music, documents nearly the entire history of the band with tracks throughout their entire career from Test For Echo back to their ... (read more)

Report this review (#87546) | Posted by Equality 7-2521 | Thursday, August 17, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars we go. I didn't like TEST FOR ECHO all that much, so I was skeptical of this live record, simply because I was familiar with the material off TFE, and since it was pretty much the basis for THIS record, I thought it was gonna suck, right? I mean, hell...T4E pretty much sucked, I th ... (read more)

Report this review (#71515) | Posted by sbrushfan | Thursday, March 9, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a great Rush live recording: a 3 CD set in a very pretty edition. Discs 1 & 2 contains live versions of their latest songs from Presto to Test for Echo albums and great old ones as : The Trees- Closer To The Heart- Natural Science- YYZ, Tom Sawyer- Freewill and analog Kid. But the gr ... (read more)

Report this review (#57693) | Posted by | Thursday, November 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I never really cared for live records very much other than All the World's a Stage. It happened to be my introductory recording to Rush way back when. it has sentimental value and i enjoy it today. The live recordings that followed seemed flawed in one way or another, (that is another review) ... (read more)

Report this review (#21181) | Posted by | Tuesday, April 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I was at that SHOW DONT TELL concert on february 27 of 94 in miami ,with my band (at the time) and it was fantastic .MY band mates were blown away by the power and energy of rush,and it was there first rush concert they had ever been to, but i had seen them before.But even i was caught by su ... (read more)

Report this review (#21175) | Posted by | Saturday, October 23, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars better than all the anthologies, better than any other RUSH live ? maybe not... but you have the advantage of covering two shows from two different eras of rush history... so as an introduction to someone who wnats to know more about this great canadian band... this is just what yo need (plus the fa ... (read more)

Report this review (#21171) | Posted by | Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A very solid exposure o great songs, perfect sound with a perfect performance. The trio do it again, a memorable live album for the newer generations to understand what have they done through the years, a must have ... (read more)

Report this review (#21169) | Posted by | Monday, March 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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