ufoIt’s time to check out the latest musings from RUSHONROCK‘s resident classic rock columnist Self Made Man.

This week he attempts to define ‘cool’ – and there’s no individual better placed to do just that!

Don’t forget to check out Self Made Man’s views right here every week. 


Mark Knopfler, Neil Young, The Who and Rogers Waters are in one camp, Whitesnake and Rush in another.

Spot the difference? Well, before I give you the answer, they are all artists I have either recently seen in concert or are about to see in the coming weeks and months.

And they have one very important thing in common – I like them all.

But the reaction I get when I tell people I’m going to see them is very different.

You see, Knopfler, Young, Waters and The Who are deemed cool. Whitesnake and Rush are not.

“Hang on a minute. Aren’t Rush supposed to be cool now?” ” I hear you ask.

Their acclaimed film “Beyond the Lighted Stage,” subsequent interview slots on prime-time US television and last year’s stunning Clockwork Angels are meant to have changed the way the Canadian trio are perceived.

From geek to hip, so I’m told.

Not according to some of my mates who could not have expressed more disdain on hearing about my trip to Glasgow to see Rush last Thursday if I’d announced One Direction were my new favourite band.

Frankly, this “cool” tag really gets up my nostrils.

Thirty years ago, the fact Sounds rather than NME was my music paper of choice placed me in the uncool camp.

I argued the point vigorously until the day Sounds launched a magazine offshoot called Kerrang _ and then I gave up arguing!

Artists such as Paul Weller, Elvis Costello, The Stone Roses, The Smiths  or more recently, Florence And The Machine are ultra-trendy and super cool.

The Who and Neil Young may not be trendy but the fashion police tell us it’s OK to like them.

I’ve got CDs by Costello, The Stone Roses and Florence And The Machine and while I still hate The Smiths, surely that qualifies me for a little bit of coolness?

But I plead guilty to paying good money to see the politically incorrect David Coverdale and the terminally unfashionable Rush in the space of eight days.

If that makes me unfashionable, a dinosaur  or an anachronist, then so be it.

And now for the case for the defence. m’lud and it’s a powerful argument.

Take last week’s Rush concert, for example. Now I’ll concede there is a fair bit of “geekdom” going on at such an event.

I’ve never seen so many T-shirts proclaiming their love for one band than I did that night and the less said about those fans not so much playing air-guitars but air-drums in homage to Neil Peart, the better.

But Rush are the very antithesis of musical dinosaurs. They stretch musical boundaries to the limits, experiment with sounds and produce records with a contemporary feel to them.

And while they are not the first band to go on tour with an orchestra, they’re giving audiences something new, fresh and distinct.

For my star witness, m’lud, may I present to you a 19-year-old girl currently studying at a Tyneside college who accompanied her father to the aforementioned gig.

This is an educated, articulate, fashion-conscious girl who likes modern bands such as The Vaccines. She’s more likely to listen to Radio One or even BBC 6 than Planet Rock but is a huge Rush fan, having taken time to listen to her father’s back catalogue and enjoyed it so much, she wanted to see the band live.

I never saw her after Thursday’s gig but there’s no doubt she will have enjoyed the three-hour show just as much as those banging away with their invisible drumsticks.

Does this provide proof that Rush are innocent of the charges laid down? No, of course not.

It just goes to show that sticking lazy labels on bands is a pointless exercise.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s cool to listen to music and attend live gigs. End of story.

Ian Murtagh