Supergroups can be a dangerous thing. When they’re good – the Travelling Wilburys, Them Crooked Vultures – they’re very, very good. But when they’re bad – Velvet Revolver, McBusted – they make you want to track down every single band member involved and willfully destroy their original record in front of them while they weep softly.
Last night however, it was the turn of the very, very good guys. Prophets of Rage are an all-star gathering of three members of Rage Against The Machine (Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford), two members of Public Enemy (Chuck D and DJ Lord) and one member of Cypress Hill (B-Real). They play the biggest tracks from all three acts, as well as a tunes by other artists (Beastie Boys and House Of Pain) and a couple, but no more than a couple, of original songs. In essence they are the greatest punk rock wedding band in the world, and last night (June 13) they played Brixton Academy and it was incredible. Here’s why…
For such a politically charged act – they formed last year, with Morello telling Rolling Stone “We’re an elite task force of revolutionary musicians determined to confront this mountain of election year bullshit, and confront it head-on with Marshall stacks blazing” – their timing for a UK show couldn’t have been better. Before a visceral ‘Take The Power Back’, the band gave Jeremy Corbyn a shout-out for doing much the same.
And speaking of Corbyn, the now iconic ‘Seven Nation Army’ chant featuring his name rang out in the foyer following the show. Can you remember the last time a gig finished with hundreds of people singing a politician’s name? Powerful stuff.
A stunning Chris Cornell tribute
Of course, with Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford all members of Audioslave, a Chris Cornell tribute wasn’t just expected, it was mandatory. The microphone stand was left empty as the band played 2002’s ‘Like A Stone’ as the entire venue sang Cornell’s part. In two decades of going to the Academy, it was without a doubt the largest, most moving singalong I’ve ever heard there. “We loved him too,” said Morello as a huge ovation swept through the room.
All hits setlist
This setlist though. A Cypress Hill megamix. ‘Guerilla Radio’. ‘Sleep Now In The Fire’. ‘Killing In The Name Of’. ‘Bulls On Parade’. The very definition of all killer, no filler.
Tom fucking Morello
I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a guitar nerd, but Tom Morello’s bloody good at guitar isn’t he? Like, so good he makes me want to go to Denmark Street and drop my life-savings on an instrument I will never use, but look at longingly for years to come. Morello’s Jimi Hendrix style teeth playing was topped only by the fact that when he lifted up his guitar is said ‘Fuck Trump’ on the underside.
No bloody encore
The lack of encore. Fuck that narcissistic noise, as I’m sure Chuck D said at some point as they were getting the setlist together over some revolutionary Jammy Dodgers and cups of builders’ tea.
Now hurry up and book your Reading and Leeds 2018 headline slot, guys.