Live Review: Prophets of Rage Electrify London And Pay Tribute To Chris Cornell


All Photos: David Bronstein

There are some gigs you go to where you know there will be an extra buzz, an atmosphere rarely seen and already an afterthought that you can always say you were there to see a certain band. The Brixton Academy in London has been host to virtually every single group that ever existed and so it seems apt that following their performance at Download Festival, Prophets of Rage decided to pencil in this club gig.

Just in case you didn’t know Prophets of Rage are a super group consisting of three members of Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave in guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk. DJ Lord of Public Enemy spinning the tunes, and sharing vocals is Chuck D of Public Enemy and B-Real of Cypress Hill. There is so much talent on stage that you’re expecting your alarm to wake you out of one of those glorious dreams.

But this isn’t a dream and the only alarm going off is the siren that rings around the venue as the show gets under way. It starts off with a 15 minute set by DJ Lord at the turntable who plays everything from Nirvana to Metallica, showing all of his skills that he has honed out of a 20 year career in the industry, he gets the crowd super pumped for the night ahead. Soon after the lights go down and B-Real, Chuck D, Commerford and Morello stand by the edge of the stage with one fist pumped into the air- the show is ready to begin and it thunders in with opener “Prophets of Rage”. This is quickly followed up by “Testify”. There are plenty of Rage Against the Machine songs tonight meshed in with Public Enemy covers.

Tim Commerford who mostly stands by his microphone the whole night is concentration personified, hitting every note with his bass. Chuck D’s vocals are so clear that he would have been getting a thumbs up from Jack Fischer, currently manning the International Space Station. In fact the combination of both him and B-Real works so well you’d think they had been a duo for decades. Everything is super tight.

On guitar you simply remain slack jawed at the awesome talent of Tom Morello. He is able to make his guitar cry, squeal and bleed. Is there a better guitarist out there now? Maybe so, but is there such a unique guitarist as Morello, I’m not so certain. He utilizes feedback as if carrying the torch for a Woodstock era Jimi Hendrix, and at one point even pays homage to the great man when he plays his guitar with his teeth.

By the half way point of the show, the Rage Against the Machine members leave the stage as B-Real, Chuck D and DJ Lord remain. And they remain for good reason as they belt out 8 hip hop classics including “Dr. Greenthumb”, “Harder Than You Think”, “Insane in the Brain”, “I Ain’t Going Out Like That” and “Welcome to the Terrordome”. All of these are sung in the photo pit. Emerging back onto the stage B-Real tells the audience that he will plant something in their head, he tells the 5,000 crowd to sit down, which they do and he says when you hear the sound from DJ Lord you will magically get up. Lord at the table, revs up the opening to “Jump Around” and the mass of people from the front to the back crowd surfing and jumping in tandem is reminiscent to the legendary show Pantera put on here back in the mid 1990’s.

Following their brutal workload, the duo take a break and the Rage guys come back on stage for what is the most emotional moment of the night. Morello talks about Chris Cornell, a former band mate at Audioslave and tells the crowd “give it up for Chris Cornell”. At this point he turns the microphone over to the fans and we get at least two minutes of a wall of noise in appreciation for the Soundgarden legend. Morello who is visibly emotional thanks the crowd and tells them “we loved him too”. The band then launch into an instrumental version of Audioslave classic “Like a Stone” where a single spotlight shines onto the microphone, a space reserved for Cornell. The crowd rise to the occasion, especially during the chorus and this is an emphatic moment that marks the show as a whole.

The energetic performance comes to an end with other hits such as ”Bullet in the Head” and ”Bulls on Parade”, Commerford’s thumping bass lines are instantly recognizable. The final song of course needs no introduction but B-Real gives one anyway, and everyone gets ready for the mosh pit of their lives as Commerford again sets up the tone with “Killing in the Name”. Prophets of Rage are raw, a pure assault on the senses and the embarrassment of riches on show makes you feel pretty darn happy that you were able to witness it. Prophets of Rage will continue their tour on the European festival market and then will be heading out to the States in the fall. Miss them at your peril.