Rush - A Show Of Hands
Mercury Records
80s Rock
15 songs (1:14:22)
Release year: 1989
Rush, Mercury Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

As anyone following my Rush reviews to date will probably have noticed, the ‘synth era’ isn’t my favourite from the trio. Given that, you might expect my treatment of the live album summing up those years to be bordering on the savage, but prepare yourselves for a surprise: A Show Of Hands is a good live album, painting a vivid portrait of the band live at their late-eighties period. Although, like previous Rush live albums, it was recorded at multiple venues, and here even on two different tours, years apart, the selection of songs is (mostly) hard to criticise, and the band are, surprise surprise, as instrumentally masterful as ever. There’s not much crowd noise, but there’s a slight roughness to proceedings that marks it out as live, elevating it above the rather flat Exit Stage Left.

After a brief intro (The Three Stooges theme) Rush burst straight into Big Money, and immediately the disappointment hits, as Alex’s guitar is still buried beneath the synths. It’s audible, and Big Money’s one of the better songs from 1985’s Power Windows (according to a certain forumite the band’s greatest album!) but I couldn’t help but let that cloud the listening, even moreso when I found that the only non-synth-era songs present were Witch Hunt and Closer To The Heart. This, of course, is equivalent to Metallica only playing The Unforgiven and Through The Never on an otherwise Reload-heavy tracklisting. Still, the awesome Subdivisions follows, about as close to the studio version as it’s possible to get, and tip-top renditions of Marathon, Turn The Page and Manhattan Project follow. Personal favourite Mission is a highlight, as is Witch Hunt (well, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth).

Rush lose points, alas, for the boring The Rhythm Method, a drum solo from the usually transcendent Neil Peart (drum solos are only fun when you can see the drummer in question, I find) and for including the soporific Mystic Rhythms. Also, where the hell is Tom Sawyer? Where is YYZ? The Spirit Of Radio? La Villa Strangiato? These songs are all included on the DVD of this show present in the Replay X3 set released in 2006, and as such you might be better advised to get that instead of A Show Of Hands. Of course, not everyone appreciates having to put a DVD on when they want to just listen, but unless you really love the 80s Rush era, you’d be better advised to go for the more complete DVD rather than this, as decent as it is.

Killing Songs :
Subdivisions, Manhattan Project, Mission, Witch Hunt, Time Stands Still, Closer To The Heart
Goat quoted no quote
Other albums by Rush that we have reviewed:
Rush - Clockwork Angels reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 90 / 100
Rush - Beyond The Lighted Stage reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Rush - Test For Echo reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Rush - Counterparts reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Rush - Roll The Bones reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
To see all 26 reviews click here
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