I had the opportunity, last night, to see the new Rush documentary Time Stand Still. It was playing in “select theaters” around North America for one night only, and – being as I live near Rush’s hometown of Toronto – it was in quite a few not too far from me. So, along with a fellow long-time Rush fan, I boogied down to the mega multiplex movie theater, arriving an hour early to join a medium-sized crowd of Rush shirt wearing fans lining up (I don’t have a Rush shirt, but am feeling now like I should.)
By the time the film started, the theater (or theatre, as we/they spell it here in Canada) was full to sold-out capacity. We were treated to an extra 20-minute introductory feature called A Salute to Kings, where a handful of celebrity and semi-celebrity musicians (Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham, Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins, the ever-obnoxious Gene Simmons, the very entertaining Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and a record producer whose name escapes me now,) told funny and fond Rush stories.
The documentary itself was extremely well-done and geared specifically to fans. This wasn’t a comprehensive band history (that was already done in 2010’s Beyond the Lighted Stage), though a fair amount of history was covered via tales of the road and Rush’s rise from teenagers playing high school auditoriums to filling stadiums now. Some clever animated sequences kept the momentum going, as well as clips of the band in concert, both archival and recent.
Their 2015 tour is the focus of the documentary – a tour that they say will be their final one. They stop short of saying they are retiring, leaving the door open to future possibilities, but one gets the feeling any future Rush activities may be confined to the recording studio. This is mainly due to the advancing age of the guys – all in their early to mid-60’s at this point. Neil Peart is plagued by a variety of physical ailments during tours, because of the grueling wear his style of drumming puts on his body. Alex Lifeson, on the other hand, has arthritis and Geddy Lee – well, no specific ailments are mentioned, but it’s obvious he has trouble hitting some of those high notes these days.
Through the course of the well-paced film, we are introduced to people who work with the band, as well as a cross-section of fervent fans and crazed collectors (one guy, who seems to know how over the top he’s gone, has a whole room devoted to Rush, including meticulously labeled file folders of clippings, and boxes of subdivided recordings (“these are all my Indonesian release Rush cassettes”)). One fan survived a horrific car accident and found hope in Rush music, another runs the annual Rushcon conventions and is also a staff member at the White House. These are all friendly, average people united by love for a band of three guys who also, when it comes down to it, are friendly, average people as well (who happen to be great musicians).
Time Stand Still, on one hand, functions primarily as a gift for the fans but also, I’d argue, works well as a document of why Rush stirs such devotion in some people and may help to explain that phenomenon to those trying to figure it out. If nothing else, there are some memorable anecdotes sprinkled throughout that make it worth the price of admission. DVD due out Nov. 18 with 67 additional minutes (torture for some, heaven for others – you can guess which camp I’m in.)
See below for the Trailer and some clips from the film (including “The Legend of the Bag”):