Even the most die-hard Rush fans will say that they hate the period from around the mid 1980's to the end of that decade. While some fans (me and KILL and jethro42 and 420yeah) adore the period and appreciate that a band can change its sound without "selling out" as they say, the synths were, at times, a bit overdone during this period, although most Rush fans will tell you that there were definitely some great songs made. Like every era of Rush's career, they usually end things with a live album. The synth era was no different, with their third live release, 1989's A Show of Hands
First things first - the video version of this release is infinitely better, due to the fact that we get to see late 80's renditions of Rush classics like "In The Mood" and "Tom Sawyer". The actual album itself is almost 100% synth-era material, and this comes as a bit of the disappointment. The fact is this, though: synths or no, Rush is great. The bad thing is, some of the songs, like "Manhattan Project" and "Mission", don't exactly conjure up the type of energy that is needed for a live album, resulting in an, at-times, slightly dull sound, as these songs, while good, are indeed, to many audience members, simply "*** I gotta sit through so I can hear 'Working Man'".
Yet the despite the slightly dulled atmosphere, there are some great parts. The version of "Closer to the Heart" on this album conjures up that "only on a live album" feeling, where the crowd is just seemingly totally into it. Another great one is opener "The Big Money", a fast and upbeat tune which is a perfect way to start off the set.
There are some things that go without saying. Rush, as a band, are amazing musically, and Geddy's voice is in great shape - gone are the squeals and shrieks that could be heard on previous albums, yet his voice still has energy, and as usual, the Canadian boys are still having fun.
It's hard to really dislike this album, considering it's just a greatest hits collection of sorts of the period from 1982-ish to 1988. However, there is a bit of a lack of energy on this one, and some of the songs are just plain better in the studio ("Time Stand Still", "Subdivisions") or even possibly better live now
. A live Rush experience is truly that; an experience. So A Show of Hands
is only recommended for Rush die-hards only. The video release is immensely better.