The “modern-day warriors” Rush to finish UK tour at the O2

Dropping the name of Rush to friends any time in the last ten years would likely have drawn blank stares or raised eyebrows, unless you spent your time hanging out with hardcore prog rock enthusiasts.

But something is going on to propel a Canadian rock band without a UK hit in nearly 30 years to a concert at the O2 next Wednesday, the final date of a country-wide tour.

It could be the popularity of Tom Sawyer, their tribute to the “modern-day warrior” and the closest thing to a Rush pop song you could get, dominated by singer Geddy Lee’s noodly synths and the chunky drums of Neil Peart.

Winning the favour of Cartman, Kyle and Eric from South Park can’t have hurt either - on previous tours the goose-bump enducing intro to the song is performed by the cartoon characters on a giant screen.

Or perhaps it was the film I Love You Man starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, on the face of it a “bromance” about modern-day male friendship but in reality an extended tribute to the band as the two lead characters play air guitar to Sawyer and the equally catchy Limelight.

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Whatever the reasons, the three member band, who formed in 1968 and are completed by guitarist Alex Lifeson, will provide a spectacular live show for new converts or tour veterans alike.

The tone of their music – experimental, complex, even that dreaded word “challenging” – is set in their influences.

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Not many bands, for example, base 11-minute song epics like Xanadu on Samuel Taylor Coleridge poems.

In short, Wednesday’s concert is likely to be far removed from previous O2 stars such as Justin Bieber but it could help to bring the trio to a whole new audience.

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