@ Odeon Metrocentre Gateshead, June 7 2010

So we’re all nerds, geeks and uncool, are we?

Well, I’m sorry but I didn’t attend the UK premiere of the Rush documentary `Beyond The Lighted Stage’ to be insulted!

But listening to some of the Canadian band’s most devoted fans from `across the Pond’ talking about their devotion to the power trio, apparently  we’re all about as fashionable as a pock-marked kid riding a chopper.

It’s just as well Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart don’t take themselves too seriously off-stage. Indeed they wear their lack of mainstream credibility almost as a badge of honour.

Rush are the biggest, most successful and best `cult’ band on the planet and a theme running through this excellent film, is their total disregard for mass acceptance. And let’s face it, when only The Beatles and The Rolling Stones have picked up more gold and platinum awards than them, what’s the point of worrying?

My only gripe with this thoroughly enjoyable 117 minute film is that I couldn’t identify with those self-confessing American weirdos who claim that in their youth, they listened to Rush while their peers headed into town on the pull.

As a kid, loving Rush was, in fact, the height of coolness, at least at my school and while I would admit 2112, Xanadu or The Trees were not exactly the kind of songs you’d play for seduction purposes, I can’t recall being a fan of Lee, Lifeson and Peart excluding me from any social circles for which loud music was not an issue.

The vast majority of those who turned up at the Metro Centre Odeon on Monday night would have been teenagers during Rush’s formative years and it was the first hour which was the most captivating.

There were interviews with Lee’s mother, who survived Auschwitz, Lifeson’s Yugoslav-raised parents and also Peart’s mum and dad and also shots of Alex at the tea-table, aged about 17 talking about his reluctance to go to university and determination to become a full-time musician.

Film was regularly interspersed with archive concert footage through the years and video clips never seen in this country while musicians such as Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and Jack White paid homage to their heroes.

There were plenty of laughs, not least when the guys talked about life on the road with UFO and poignant moments when Peart recalled that dark period in the 90s when he lost both his daughter and wife in the space of 12 months, two tragedies which looked like spelling the end of this great band.

But this highly recommended film-documentary which is released on DVD later this month ends in a fittingly positive note with clips from their two most recent tours which proved that Rush are as relevant, inventive and enegertic today as they were when Peart – `the new guy’ as Lee still calls him – joined in 1974.

As the credits roll,  our three heroes are sitting around a table, drinking wine, gently taking the mick out of themselves, their music and those of us who’d just spent almost two hours watching them.

Nerds and geeks? Well, maybe. But bloody good musicians too.

Ian Murtagh