A Show Of Hands - The Video Concert

A Show Of Hands - The Video Concert Linernotes

By Neil Peart

It is time. Through the sudden darkness we run to the stage, the intro tape drowned in a roaring wave of welcome. Our tension is fed by the audience's anticipation for this long overdue return to Britain, and by the presence of another, silent audience - the microphone ears and camera eyes which will focus on our performance.

For a band with high standards, a perfect show is impossible, and an excellent show is rare. You hope that the norm is "good". To deliver a really exceptional, comfortable performance before a recording truck or film crew has been our unfulfilled dream of many years. Always it seemed that as soon as the machines started rolling, we forgot how to play and our equipment forgot how to work. Any tiny inaccuracy seemed magnified to staggering immensity by an internal vision of spinning tape-reels, malevolent machinery capturing that damned millisecond forever.

But for these two nights, the gods smile. The ears and eyes of technology open to capture the responses of the audience and the players to the music, to the atmosphere, to each other. The panorama of faces alone mirrors a novel's worth of expression and emotion; intense, playful, concentrated, abandoned, pained, laughing, serious, and downright silly. Shifting beams of colored light animate the stage and follow the player's every move, while the audience is picked out in tinted pools, a sea of shining faces. Cartoon backdrops spring to life behind the band, then leap out to fill the screen. Lasers slash and stab at the darkness. A filament of shared tension and release connects the musicians, the audience, the music.

And the film becomes not just a concert, but a symbol - for the band a scrapbook, an autobiography, an era frozen in glacial clarity. For the audience, it can be an enduring souvenir, and if it can't quite capture what it was like to be there, it is a way of seeing through many pairs of eyes, of shifting one's vantage-point around and above the players in a way no mortal could.

Hands perform, and hands respond. Hands gesture, and hands respond. A show of ears and eyes, a show of hearts and minds. A Show of Hands.

Geddy Lee
bass guitar, synthesizers, vocals

Alex Lifeson
guitars, synthesizers, backing vocals

Neil Peart
acoustic and electronic percussion

Produced by Len Epand for PMV, and John Diaz for Calhoun Productions
Directed by Larry Jordan
Cinematography by Crescenzo Notarile
Lighting Directed by Howard Ungerleider
Audio Production by Geddy Lee
Engineered by Paul Northfield
5.1 and stereo mix by Mike Fraser and Alex Lifeson
Warehouse Studios, Vancouver
Assistant Engineer Zach Blackstone/ATR Services Andrew Bigham
Executive Production by Val Azzoli, for Anthem Entertainment
Management by Ray Danniels for SRO
Filmed at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, England, April 21, 23, and 24, 1988
Universal Music Enterprises: Jeff Fura/Adam Abrams/Ramon Galbert
Art Direction and Design: Hugh Syme

All songs written by Lee/Lifeson/Peart except "Closer to the Heart" by Lee/Lifeson/Peart/Talbot,
"Force Ten" and "Tom Sawyer" by Lee/Lifeson/Peart/Dubois
All songs published by Core Music Publishing (SOCAN)


  • Certified Gold and Platinum by the RIAA: June 9, 1989
  • DVD running time: 1:29:03
  • Originally released on VHS and Laserdisc, February 21, 1989, it is currently available in the Replay X 3 DVD Boxed Set released June 13, 2006, and as a standalone DVD released May 1, 2007. Both DVD releases include a miniature reproduction of the Hold Your Fire tourbook.
  • Although they share the same name, the audio and video releases are completely different versions.
  • This is not the full show. The full setlist is as follows, with missing tracks in bold:The Big Money, Subdivisions, Limelight, Marathon, Turn the Page, Prime Mover, Manhattan Project, Closer to the Heart, Red Sector A, Force Ten, Time Stand Still, Distant Early Warning, Lock and Key (laserdisc only), Mission, Territories, YYZ, The Rhythm Method - Drum Solo, Red Lenses, The Spirit of Radio, Tom Sawyer, 2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx, La Villa Strangiato, In The Mood
  • Three tracks appear on the video release but not the cd version: "Territories", "Prime Mover" and "Lock & Key" (Lock and Key was only included on early pressings of the laserdisks in the US, which have a white or lavender label on the disk). Conversely, three tracks recorded the same night, "Subdivisions," "Time Stand Still" and "Distant Eartly Warning," were included on the cd release, but not the video. Only "Limelight" and "Red Lenses" remain unreleased.
  • "Lock & Key", released on the first pressings of the laserdisc, but later dropped from the VHS and DVD editions, is included as a standalone track on the bonus disc of the R40 video boxed set.
  • Click here for the A Show Of Hands Transcript Archive

In Their Own Words

"A lot of tracks on A Show of Hands were recorded from the last show we recorded, in Birmingham, U.K. The second-to-last night we also did a video shoot and there were a large number of cameras on stage. What I think happened was the next night the cameras were all gone so it almost felt like nothing was happening. Everybody relaxed. Everybody gave a very loose performance in relief that there was no camera pointed at us." - Geddy Lee, Greenville News, February 17, 1990

What is Alex singing during "La Villa Strangiato" when the "Producer's Apology" appears in the video?:

"That's kind of a joke, but it doesn't seem like many people are getting that joke. Actually, Alex, at certain parts of that song, would just start rambling into the microphone - all kinds of various nonsense, and it actually never got recorded anywhere. So no one had any idea, including him, what he had actually said. But we loved the shot of him just ranting into this microphone, so we decided we would put up this bogus 'radioactive' warning about the fact that we had 'censored' what he had said, and we thought we did it in kind of an obvious way - it looked like it was phony, because we put the radioactivity symbols right on the screen, but nobody seems to be getting that." - Geddy Lee, Rockline, December 4, 1989
"It's more spontaneous babbling! You get kinda goofy at the end of a show, especially near the end of a lengthy tour. That was just crazy rambling, verbal farting. It was Geddy's idea to put it on the video." - Alex Lifeson, Kerrang No. 388, April 18, 1992


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