Rush : A Show of Hands DVD Review

By: Karl Stern of When It Was Cool (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool,

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I was recently given two Rush DVDs by a friend that, oddly enough, I did not previously have in my current DVD collection- Grace Under Pressure and A Show of Hands.  I had owned A Show of Hands for many years on VHS to the point I wore it out and the tape literally broke.  I just, somehow, never managed to replace it on DVD.  Today I want to take a look at the concert DVD that supported the 1987 Rush album Hold Your Fire.

As I have pointed out in previous When It Was Cool articles like The 100 Greatest Rush Songs of All Time, I am a fan of mid-1980s Rush which is a divisive time for many fans of the group.  Now, I did not say I was not a BIGGER fan of earlier Rush or a BIGGER fan of later Rush but while some Rush fans hate the mid-1980s run of synthesizer heavy music I happen to like a lot of it.  In fact, as I have stated before, I think Neil Peart was at the peak of his lyrical writing powers during this era.

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Neil Peart on drums

The sound mixing for Rush - A Show of Hands is far superior to the Grace Under Pressure live DVD and was released as a live album as well.  Also, the camera work is much less manic making for an overall much better experience.

The packaging is nice.  It came out circa 2006-2007 and was remastered containing fifteen songs and one medley. I can't say enough about the sound mixing on this DVD.  I have listened to this on a standard television with nothing special sound and on a surround sound system and it sounds great on both.  Geddy Lee's vocals are very clear.  On a Dolby surround sound system the quality is amazing, especially the bass which is mixed strongly but not to the point where it over powers everything else.  The sound on Rush - A Show of Hands is absolutely an A+ in my opinion.

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Disk insert featuring scenes from the concert taped in 1987 on the Rush - Hold Your Fire Tour.

The band seemed even tighter and better since their last DVD outing almost three years earlier.  They were even beginning to back away (slightly) from having too much keyboard and the set list contained many more classic Rush favorites where Grace Under Pressure failed to.

The set list contains some real forgotten Rush classics that deserve a new listen.  In particular Territories never seemed to become a Rush fan favorite but the song holds up amazingly well and is certainly socially relevant in today's world. Likewise, both Marathon and Mission stand out as fantastically complex songs both musically and lyrically.

Many of your favorite Rush hits are also in the setlist including Tom Sawyer, YYZ (which flows into a legendary Neil Peart drum solo), Spirit of Radio, and a medley which includes a portion of 2112.

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Geddy Lee manning the bass, keyboards, and vocals.

Some versions of Rush - A Show of Hands also includes Lock and Key but mine does not.  There is one comedy bit included on the set that I think went over most fans heads at the time (and has been debated for years).  During the La Villa Strangiato section of the closing medley, Alex Lifeson approaches his microphone and yells for several seconds. His words are silenced and a message appears onscreen telling viewers that his offensive speech has been censored. Lifeson actually said, "Singing is easy" and proceeded to make a series of strange random noises. Although the band has never confirmed what (if anything) Lifeson said, they have admitted that the censorship was a joke but unless you are aware of the bands legendary sense of humor the segment comes off as awkward more than funny.  Remember, this is the same guy whose Rock and Roll Hall of Fame speech contained nothing but the words, "blah, blah, blah."

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Rush - A Show of Hands

The entire setlist for Rush - A Show of Hands DVD is as follows:

  • Animated Intro
  • The Big Money
  • Marathon
  • Turn the Page
  • Prime Mover
  • Manhattan Project
  • Closer to the Heart
  • Red Sector A
  • Force Ten
  • Lock and Key (only on some versions)
  • Mission
  • Territories
  • YYZ
  • The Rhythm Method (Neil Peart drum solo)
  • The Spirit of Radio
  • Tom Sawyer
  • 2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx/La Villa Strangiato/In The Mood

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