Yeah, but stage noise has always been a huge problem. I was 4th row, Alex's side for the CP tour. I heard nearly NOTHING all night, but Alex.
Yes, and now they have these small units on the edge of the stage facing out so the front rows can actually hear anything. Interesting paradigm. I think, with nothing coming from the stage except acoustic drums it does work out for most of the arena. I do think the people in the first few rows lose a lot of bass response hearing the band out of those tiny drivers. Sure there is some ambiance coming from the main PA, but if you look at the logistics, the front few rows can actually be seated behind the PA mains that are hung above. Best sound is mid-floor dead center, no question.
I'd like to see bands run a balanced stage, real amplifiers, and yes, like the old days, a cabinet on each other's side, so you'll hear bass on Alex's side and Guitar on Geddy's side. They could still use their rigs backstage to get out to the PA mains, but just have a little fill, to match the drums on stage. Nothing crazy. There are times you want natural feedback too. That helps with expression.