Monday, June 7

Rage Against The Machine @ Finsbury Park 06/06/10

. Monday, June 7

Simon Cowell has never looked more ridiculous than the cartoon image projected to 40,000 Rage Against The Machine fans in Finsbury Park. He tells the crowd how Rage would “Not have made it past boot camp” had they entered The X Factor to a ringing chorus of boos. It’s a fitting start for this celebratory gig by one of the brashest bands of the past twenty years.

Ostensibly Rage are here to thank fans for helping them beat Cowell’s X Factor winner Joe McElderry thus giving them the Christmas Number One in the process, but tonight is a full show like any other and as Tom Morello launches into first song ‘Testify’ the energy is palpable. Lead singer Zack De La Rocha skips around with the energy of a man half his age, orchestrating the swirling pits and pumping fists in front of him.

The band play a greatest hits set, taking in teen angst anthems ‘Bombtrack’, ‘Guerilla Radio’ and a primal ‘Know Your Enemy’, each song engrained on the synapses of anyone who has slammed a bedroom door or sulked in a corner for an hour. For that is what Rage Against The Machine truly are, a first touch stone of rebellion. For all their talk of revolution and counter culture action most people use these songs, those albums, concerts like this as a flaccid middle finger to ‘The Man’. This is all part of the fun though, and as the funk swing of ‘Take The Power Back’ lurches in and out of it’s groove you can’t help but feel a strange sense of pride that people rallied for a cause against a common enemy and defeated it. Perhaps the campaign worked on a farcical British sense of humour level than a genuine political movement but the point remains, the seemingly immovable object was moved by an unstoppable force.

The show is punctuated with moments like De La Rocha attacking the Israeli government and bringing out John and Tracy Morter, the couple that started the Facebook campaign to get Rage to number one, who then donated all proceeds of the song to homeless charity Shelter. Selfless, aware and potent - it’s a shame none of the current crop of bands are not following in the footsteps of a band who releases their first album way back in 1992. Apathy may be cool but there is something truly special about seeing a band powered by a cause and as a brutal ‘Sleep Now In The Fire’ rings out you get the feeling Rage Against The Machine could achieve anything they set their minds too.

It’s perhaps telling that the weekend of this show Simon Cowell starred in the most highly viewed TV show of the year and was picking up a BAFTA award at the exact time that he was being ridiculed by a band of Americans. He hasn’t lost and Rage Against The Machine haven’t changed the fabric of British pop culture but what they did was cause a temporary blip in the norm, a hiccup in a foregone conclusion and there is nothing more in keeping with the spirit of punk and rebellion than that. Tonight celebrated that achievement and as Zach De La Rocha put it himself before the fond farewell of ‘Killing In The Name‘, “Fucking up the system never felt so good.”

Img: Carsten Windhorst



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