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Preview: Rush at Metro Radio Arena

RUSH are in a hurry. For 40 years the progressive rock trio have been recording classic albums and playing to die-hard fans under the umbrella of ‘cult heroes’ and yet unexpected fame is their new best friend.

Rush performing at the Metro Radio arena

Rush are the cult rock band that is suddenly cool. SIMON RUSHWORTH caught up with Alex Lifeson, one third of the Canadian prog legends, ahead of the band’s Newcastle Arena show

RUSH are in a hurry. For 40 years the progressive rock trio have been recording classic albums and playing to die-hard fans under the umbrella of ‘cult heroes’ and yet unexpected fame is their new best friend.

Making up for lost time and having the time of their lives, three friends and colleagues bonded by a love for the outlandish are hipper and healthier than ever. A three-and-a-half hour set awaits UK fans this month and new faces are expected to mix freely with long-term converts.

Thanks to the success of the acclaimed documentary Beyond The Lighted Stage, an overview of the Rush life story, the band is finally earning the respect and global exposure it has long deserved. And for guitarist Alex Lifeson a lifetime’s journey is taking a turn as surreal as it is welcome.

“Going by the respect I get on the street, from what I’ve seen of the reviews and the renewed interest in the band I’d have to say that the film has been a huge positive for Rush,” said the 57-year-old.

Fame, of course, has its price. And for a famously private band the transition has been far from comfortable.

“We don’t really like the intrusion into our private lives,” added Lifeson. “There’s something to be said for being an underground band or a cult act. At the same time we’re reaching so many more people with music we’re very proud of.

“We had nothing to do with the film other than to be the subject of it. We didn’t want any editing or approval rights. But the filmmakers did want us to come in and see the film as a rough edit.

“It’s very symbiotic. To see your life before you over a 40-year period is very weird. But I see the ‘story’ now. I could never see it before. You realise that it’s very unusual and unconventional for a band to stay together for the period of time we have been together.”

With worldwide album sales in excess of 40 million, the trio is not about to slow down now. A new record will be released in the spring of 2012 and this summer’s UK tour is the band’s most ambitious yet – clocking in at more than three hours and featuring the career-defining Moving Pictures album in its entirety.

“We knew we were coming up to the 30th anniversary of the album (released February 1981). It was our most commercially successful record and we wanted to get The Camera Eye back into the set in some way.”

However, playing an entire album and more is far from easy for three elder statesmen of rock – still rolling at a time when many peers would be contemplating retirement. We take very good care of ourselves,” said Lifeson, whose rock and roll lifestyle is long over. “We work out, play tennis and eat well.

“Of course on tour we start off with the very best intentions. We have a chef who cooks everything organically and we have diets tailored to our individual needs. But after six weeks on the road the lifestyle takes its toll. By the end of the tour you’re just about hanging in there!”

Rush have been just about hanging in there for the past 43 years. Only this time they’re here to stay.

:: Rush play Newcastle Metro Radio Arena on May 21.

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