Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Rage Against the Machine, Finsbury Park, London

Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Doubtless you will all remember the Battle of the Christmas Number One from last year and how BLOODY BRILLIANT it was when Rage Against the Machine knocked the X Factor off the top after a Facebook campaign against Simon Cowell and his glorified Karaoke contest? And how Rage ATM are so rad that they promised to play a free gig in the UK as a thank you?

That gig was Sunday.

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO BABY! Now, you know I always write gig reviews, and you might not be impressed that I always seem to rave and praise... but seriously? Can I just say? Future Gig Reviewing MammyP: THE BAR HAS BEEN RAISED. Raised, girlfriend.

Jase and me (stupidly) decided it would be a good idea to drive to London. “Drive to London? From Newcastle?” I hear you saying. That’s a six hour drive, music lovers. But it’s all good. For a couple of seasoned gig-goers like Jase and me? Him and me BLEED rock 'n roll - it was no problem.

After an hour or so of central London-related driving hilarity (for the sake of our marriage we are going to have to cave and buy a SatNav) we find the hotel and catch the Tube to Finsbury Park and WHA-HOO what an atmosphere already. Fairground rides! Clean port-a-poos! Yummy food stands! No queues at the bar! And best of all... forty thousand other Renegades of Funk almost spiritually unified against a music industry that, at best is saturated with barely listenable one-hit-wonders and at worst tinny teeny flimsy manufactured pop fluff.

Three support bands were on the same bill – Gallows kicked off the proceedings with a fiery 35 minute punk eruption that got us all in the mood to jump up and down and drink more lager, especially when there were a couple of Clash and Sex Pistols covers up for the offing. I took a little video of them covering The Clash "I Fought the Law". They were great – even at times, I have to say, endearing to my punky funky heart, especially when their frontman instructed the crowd to make a Wall of Death, barking at them, “And if you dunno wot a Wall o’ Deff is, you shouldn’ FACKING be ‘ere, roight?!”

Roots Manuva came on next – sorry Mr Manuva... I missed your set because I was having a little stroll around Finsbury Park. We had more lager, some yummy vegetarian spring rolls from the Noodle Bar, queued for the loos for a while, generally scammed the scene, had more lager, and more spring rolls... you understand, right? Because THOSE SPRING ROLLS WERE REALLY, REALLY DELICIOUS.

Then came Gogol Bordello. They got the crowd going but I’m not going to say much about them; they just weren’t my scene. Most of the time they were on the stage I was embroiled in a lively -- yet somewhat tipsy -- discussion with my husband surrounding how they went on tour with Madonna that time. Don’t ask me what conclusions we drew, I couldn’t tell you. BUT! We did have more lager. And spring rolls. GOD DAMN, they were tasty.

Then for the main event. Now, when Rage first announced they were going to play a free gig, I lost. My. Mind! So, so, so excited, saying to Jase, “We GOTTA get tickets, I’ve never seen them before! We GOTTA GET TICKETTTSSSS!!!!!” and actually? I have seen them before. Lollapalooza 1993. And that right there is evidence if you ever wanted it that working on your reserve set of brain cells at the age of 34? Not so much with the smart stuff.

Anyway – seventeen years is a long time, but I tell you... jumping around in the grass to the soundtrack of my formative years... you can’t put a price on that, my friend. I had a BLAST. They came on stage following an introduction in the form of a parody cartoon Simon Cowell, mock-lamenting how he “didn’t get to manage their money... er, um, I mean, their MUSIC,” (or similar). Click here to watch the whole thing. Oh, how we laughed!

Highlights for me? Well, every track they played off their first record but most notably Bombtrack and Know Your Enemy... and Bullet in the Head rocked my tits off. Here’s some more video. Sorry it’s so bouncy-up-and-down-ey, but what can I say? A girl’s gotta rock.

Now, listen carefully: I can’t finish this review properly unless I mention the following indisputable fact – TOM MORELLO IS A GUITAR GOD. Okay – I know I said guitar, but for him? It’s not just a guitar. It’s a percussion instrument, it’s a set of decks, it’s like an amplified extension of himself. When I wasn’t jumping nine feet off the ground and screeching lyrics like a crazy lady, I was totally in awe of him. At one point he yanked the lead out of his guitar and knocked out some beats with it on the palm of his hand, all heard thud-thumpin’ through the PA as if he was hammering on a couple of distortion-drenched timpani. A maestro. And when married to Zack de la Rocha’s poignant vocals and layered between Timmy C’s dazzlingly skilful pulsing bass and Brad Wilk’s barrelling, driving percussion? Is there any audible ecstasy superior to it? Not for me, rock fans. Not for me.

They encored with none other than Killing in the Name – of course – and Jase and me both emphatically agreed we felt like we’d been part of something extraordinary. Worth the seemingly endless driving around in the same triangle trying to find the hotel. Worth the extortionate cost of the petrol we needed for the 12 hour round trip drive. Worth the hangover! It was a free gig – but I’d have paid a month’s salary.

The rumour is that Rage are thinking of recording another album now. Please, please, please let it be true! So I say to Tom, Zack, Timmy and Brad, and the : thank you, thank you, a gazillion times thank you for such an outstanding gig. My star rating? A GALAXY.

1 people had something to say about this...:

Jon Morter said...

Great review there Nicola and love the photos!

It's 100,000% the greatest gig of my life and already know it won't be topped...I'm still nudging Tom Morello to get it released on DVD. It's now appeared on IMDB so fingers crossed. We filmed a full documentary that week too so watch this space.