rock-o-the-northWhat do Iron Maiden, Mark Knopfler and Def Leppard have in common? Apart from the fact that rushonrock loves them all?

Well the guitar slinging trio all featured in 2008’s Top Eight biggest earning live acts – despite none being classed as popular music.

The reformed Police topped the chart, grossing £242m, but Maiden were a close second, Geordie boy Knopfler made his mark at six and Leppard landed at eight.

In amongst them all were media darlings Coldplay, James Blunt and Girls Aloud. But then those three acts, in particular, are boosted by hit singles, blanket press coverage, a tonne of airplay and television saturation.

Maiden, Knopfler and Leppard are about as uncool as it gets according to the nation’s tastemakers. And if they get the odd slot on breakfast telly or the occasional play on Radio One it’s more by luck than good judgment.

But what those three do have in common is their reputations. Reputations for enduring quality, endearing professionalism and an exceptional ability to deliver exactly what their market demands.

Go to a Maiden concert and what you expect is all the hits, a few explosions, a giant Eddie and enough energy to power a small African nation. And that’s exactly what you get night after night, week after week, month after month.

If you don’t believe me then go and catch a screening of Flight 666 on April 21 when the sheer adrenaline rush of a Maiden show has been tracked across the globe on razor sharp high definition film.

Buy tickets for Dire Straits mainman Knopfler and you want technical wizardry, raw emotion and a demonstration of guitar work at its very best. That’s what you get as the Newcastle United-daft muso takes his crowd on an incredible journey through soaring melodies and spine-tingling solos.

Invest your time and money in Leppard and you want over-the-top production, singalong choruses, supreme six-string jousting and the banter for which Joe Elliott has become famous. For the last few years, as they’ve toured the world with the likes of Journey and Whitesnake, you’ve been treated to some of the best live shows on the planet.

There’s no real secret as to why three apparently past-it rock and metal behemoths are more than holding their own on the live stage. That heady mix of wild entertainment and years of experience makes for one of the most memorable nights of your year.

And they’re so good that they could do the same every year without fear of losing the fans who readily shell out 30 or 40 quid to watch some of the world’s best recording artists bring their most celebrated works to the world stage.

No doubt AC/DC and Metallica will be making their presence felt in the touring rankings throughout 2009. And these two so-called ‘heritage acts’ are further proof that if you do what you do well then there won’t be an empty seat in the house.

Live music has rarely been in ruder health. So get out there and get involved.