“There’s no royal boxes here, stand the fuck up!” orders Tom Morello at one point tonight, laughing as he adds, “you can sit down at a Coldplay gig!” Tonight, at a venue that is creaking both with capacity and velocity, this is one time that everybody is happy to do what they are told to. Prophets of Rage are back in town, and they are still telling uncomfortable truths and fighting the power.
When the initial announcement was made that members of Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill were forming a supergroup, the world nodded their collective heads and said “Yup, makes sense." With their fierce political messages still resounding as much now as when they first brought them to the mainstream, these are fights that still needed to be fought and won. Now, with a well-received debut album under their belt as well as some huge back catalogues to work with, it is time for a repeat visit to the city that has always welcomed them as one of their own.
It's hard to know where to look at times. Morello, wrangling his instrument like an extra-terrestrial who never learned the traditional way to play guitar and instead took it to all new levels, runs and leaps around stage. At points, he swigs from a water bottle while playing with his other hand or flips it over to play with his teeth, (revealing a ‘Fuck Boris’ message to widespread welcome), at others he is just content in coaxing strange new sounds from it. The engine that keeps the Prophets juggernaut hurtling onwards, he is matched by the twin threats of Chuck D and B-Real, between them bouncing perfectly in and out of tracks. Less flashy, but equally vital, Tim Commerford (bass) and Brad Wilk (drums) propel and pound the sound along relentlessly. Every member gets their moment to shine, whether it is the halfway hip-hop melody that culminates in an explosive cover of ‘Jump Around’ or the pure rock-out tribute to Chris Cornell that is an instrumental version of ‘Cochise’, every syllable screamed by the crowd as a spotlight shines on a deserted mic-stand.
There is plenty of time and love given to their own record, but as good as the likes of ‘Unfuck The World’ and ‘Hail To The Chief’ are tonight, it is the RATM material that still lifts the roof off. If ‘Know Your Enemy’ is devastating, then ‘Take The Power Back’ and ‘Bullet In The Head’ surely break records for inciting the most amount of beer to be thrown. Of course though, it is ‘Killing In The Name’ that provokes the ultimate of scenes, every middle finger raised firmly in the air. The fight continues.