Genre: PROGRESSIVE ROCK
Released by: UMG
Release date: 2nd December 2016
Narrated by Paul Rudd
Let me begin by saying that if you’re looking for extensive concert footage, you will not find it here… I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting from Time Stand Still but I would very roughly categorize it as a journey of sorts. It kicks off with Geddy Lee talking and is the perfect companion to the R40 DVD, counting down to the beginning of the tour and thereafter to how many shows are left, all the while alternating between clips and photographs from days gone by. The band members discuss how they have known no other life except music and how the ending is harder than beginning – this would be a valid statement indeed for any musician of similar pedigree.
The film skips to Tulsa, Oklahoma – 10 days before the opening night and the band explain that they are over rehearsers – they have to be, their songs are complex and they need to be at the standard that they can do what they do without thinking.
Alex Lifeson reflects on how back in the early days they traveled 300-400 miles a day and were sleeping in a rental car – working 50 weeks a year, they discuss life on the road and how demanding it was and they recall being challenged to a drinking competition by Thin Lizzy. The film is peppered throughout with cartoon recreations of the band which I found rather amusing.
Neil Peart takes the opportunity to discuss at length the difficulty of playing at the level he plays and how at the end of the tour he suffers from various ailments – like an athlete, which given his performances is not in the least surprising. He muses that by the time he’s 71 he could play like Charlie Watts but NOT like Neil Peart and the band discuss their musical mortality and confirm that replacing members in order for them to continue touring will always be out of the question.
As is usual in “Rockumentaries”, fans are given the opportunity to discuss their feelings on the band – but I think this is taken too far. They also discuss the typical characteristics of a Rush fan and how they differ from the norm. In the latter half there is what I would deem excessive coverage of the Rush Convention (fan convention) and while it flicks between this, clips of the band on stage and band members talking, I felt my interest waning. In my opinion delving into the backgrounds of fans was an unnecessary step too far.
Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins are shown inducting Rush into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the band is seen returning to Toronto halfway through the tour to hero’s welcome – and rightly so!
Neil Peart is filmed on a few occasions riding his motorcycle – to say he’s an enthusiast would be a vast understatement and he explains how problems resulting from his dedication to this caused him to complete the tour in agony, suffering from both problems with his feet and tendonitis. Alex Lifeson, who has developed arthritis was also experiencing difficulties with the grueling tour schedule.
The final show of the tour – in LA, was accurately depicted as very emotional with fans traveling from all over the world in what I would liken to a pilgrimage. At the end of the performance Neil, who never leaves the sanctity of his drum kit, crosses the line and makes his way to the front of the stage alongside Geddy and Alex. This in itself I found particularly moving and it seemed very final to me, thereafter they took their leave and departed the stage in a despondent silence.
I felt that throughout this documentary there was a great deal more focus on Neil Peart than either Geddy Lee or Alex Lifeson and whilst I have no complaints about this – the man is an enigma after all, I feel that other viewers may have appreciated more focus on the other members and less input from fans, crew and the like. The bonus feature of 10 tracks “Live from the Rabbit Hole” in 1990 is a fantastic inclusion and is sure to be well received, and yet again this ends with the focus on Neil Peart – doing what he does best in an off-stage solo.
Overall, Time Stand Still was an enjoyable watch, a great mix of old and new footage and behind the scenes insight and indeed a vast quantity of material is featured here. Is it something that you would want to watch time and again? Probably not. There are absolutely no songs played in their entirety throughout the main part of the film (then again, that’s another DVD – R40) and in the end I felt that this production was more about the band feeling the need to explain WHY they cannot continue to tour, that time is against them, the length of the performances too physically challenging and that it would be out of the question for them to give any less of a performance than their usual 3 hours or so of musical perfection. Neill himself mentions that he was pretty much through with touring after even one year with the band and that he physically puts more effort in on stage, so I would go a step further to say that’s its put across that the final decision not to carry on rests with him – is this perhaps why he gets more coverage – by way of defending the reasons behind them calling time on live performances? I can’t be sure but it’s how I interpret it… I confess, in the end, I felt quite anxious at the countdown to the final performance and had a feeling of enduring sadness when it was all over. Perhaps I just take the music I love much too seriously, but then again so do Rush…
Reviewed by Karen Hetherington