Rage in the Park – Live review with backstage photos

with Gallows, Gogol Bordello & Roots Manuva
Finsbury Park, London

If you’d have told a sixteen year old me that Rage Against The Machine would have not only reformed but beat the X-Factor to a Christmas number one with ‘Killing In The Name’ I’d have called you a bare faced liar. Yet here I stand, ten years on from the initial Rage split at the victory party to end all victory parties! Rage have returned to British soil triumphant and to think that this was all started by a couple on Facebook is simply unbe-fucking-lieveable!

Gallows tear it up!

However, Rage were not alone. What is a victory party without guests? Regardless of the size of the stage or the audience that they are playing to Gallows bring it, 100%, every single time they play. Today was no exception. Kicking off the always visceral set with a cover of the Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save The Queen’ Gallows are unrelenting. Ever the protagonist, front man Frank Carter constantly goads the crowd into human pyramids and walls of death to a soundtrack of his and the bands rabid anthems but today his negativity was forgotten, he was stoked to be here and thanked everyone who was involved, right down to the production crew who he lauded as ‘the real rock-stars‘ on the day and rightly so. Today Gallows really shone and set the bar a little too high for a struggling Roots Manuva who failed to really engage the London crowd.

However, Gogol Bordello didn’t suffer a similar fate, the pure energy the band projected was amazing as their gypsy-folk-punk had everybody moving, shouting and moshing along. Whilst they played Jimmy Page from Led Zepellin was on stage smiling and checking out the lovely Elizabeth Chi-Wei Sun from the band and met her after they played. She has a rock royalty fan right there, that’s for sure! They had a great time and love the UK, was a pleasure as ever to see them rip up the audience here today, they blew it up!

Finally, after a crude and somewhat cheap cartoon of Simon Cowell introducing the band, an air raid siren screams over the PA signaling the arrival of Rage Against The Machine at Finsbury Park. The heroes’ welcome they receive is deafening as Zack de la Rocha proclaims “We are Rage Against The Machine from Los Angeles, California!” before the band launch into opener ‘Testify’.

Rage walking onto the Finsbury Park stage from their dressing room, we were lucky to be able to stay and shoot these as everyone else was moved 50 yds away.

As a die-hard fan it is so good to see the band back together. Zack De La Rocha hasn’t missed a step as he spits his way through some of the most intelligent and provocative lyrics in rap or metal while Tim Commerford’s deep bass lines and Brad Wilk’s drumming really powers this well oiled , killing machine. As always, Tom Morello’s innovative guitar style and solos are crazy to hear on disc let alone witness live. Rage are in their element tonight and are visibly happy to be at such a historical event as they find it nigh on impossible to stop smiling as they smash their way through ‘Bombtrack’, ‘Bulls on Parade’ and ‘Know Your Enemy’ to name a few.

After honoring Facebook group organizers Jon and Tracy Morter, Rage tip their cap to all the musical revolutionaries from the UK name checking Led Zeppelin, The Who, Sex Pistols and finally The Clash are paid dues with a cover of ‘White Riot’. Rage storm through their back catalogue of angst riddled, rebellious jams dishing out ‘Guerilla Radio’, ‘Sleep Now in the Fire’ finishing up with ‘Freedom’.

Before Rage returned to the stage the capacity crowd (now up a few numbers due to fans outside the arena bum-rushing the gates!) were shown another video quoting Simon Cowell and the negative UK press towards the Rage Factor campaign backed by the painfully dull Joe McElderrey track ‘The Climb’. This simply added fuel to an already roaring fire before Rage returned for the inevitable encore.

There is nothing quite like 40,000 people screaming “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me!”. Finsbury Park erupted as Rage culminated an amazing set with the song that brought us all together, ‘Killing In The Name’.

Today was a reminder to all that you don’t just have to sit there and take whatever the ‘powers that be’ spoon feed the public. You can make a change and in the words of Rage Against The Machine ‘YOU can make history.’ Today we did. This show was a thank you to all people in attendance and everybody who campaigned for change, the people who had had enough, who acted against and finally, who achieved the goal. The times are a-changing, people. The battle rages on.

Tom Lindsey

Just off stage in the dressing room with Gogol Bordello’s Oliver Charles and Eugene Hütz.

Lunchtime backstage with Frank and Steph Carter from a very happy Gallows.

Circle pits are fun!