Rage Against The Machine cover Springsteen, deliver hits at first show in 11 years

The political rock icons' long-awaited return featured stacks of classic tunes

Rage Against The Machine performed their first show in 11 years last night (July 9), treating fans in East Troy, Wisconsin to 15 of their biggest hits and a classic Bruce Springsteen cover.

The cover in question, ‘The Ghost Of Tom Joad’, was a staple of Rage’s setlists in the late ‘90s. But although it was laid to tape on their 2000 album ‘Renegades’ – their fourth and final studio album, and only covers record – the band haven’t performed it live since then. It did, however, appear in a handful of the sets that Prophets Of Rage played in their four-year tenure, and guitarist Tom Morello has given it the occasional run at his solo shows.

The set was, otherwise, a high-octane celebration of Rage’s formative era: they played six songs from their eponymous 1992 debut, including the classics ‘Killing In The Name’, ‘Bullet In The Head’ and ‘Bombtrack’. 1996’s ‘Evil Empire’ had four tracks showcased – as expected, ‘Bulls On Parade’ seemed to be a highlight of the set – while 1999’s ‘The Battle Of Los Angeles’ was represented with five songs.

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Taking place at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre, it marked the band’s first live performance in almost exactly 11 years; their most recent show before last night was at the LA Rising festival on July 30, 2011.

Have a look at crowd-shot footage from the gig – and see the full setlist – below:

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Rage Against The Machine played:

‘Bombtrack’
‘People Of The Sun’
‘Bulls On Parade’
‘Bullet In The Head’
‘Testify’
‘Tire Me’
‘Wake Up’
‘Guerrilla Radio’
‘Without A Face’
‘Know Your Enemy’
‘Calm Like A Bomb’
‘Sleep Now In The Fire’
‘War Within A Breath’
‘The Ghost Of Tom Joad’ (Bruce Springsteen cover)
‘Freedom’ (inc. snippet of ‘Township Rebellion’)
‘Killing In The Name’

The North American leg of Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Public Announcement Tour’ will continue in Chicago, Illinois, with back-to-back shows lined up at the United Centre. The run will continue into mid-August with a further 16 shows on the itinerary, before Rage – as well as support act Run The Jewels – embark on a UK and European leg at the end of the month.

The band, who first announced their second reunion back in 2019, were set to kick the tour off in March 2020. Ongoing complications surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, however, forced the tour to be rescheduled several times over; the most recent pushbacks came in January and February, where half of the US leg was postponed from April to July, and the other half was pushed into 2023.

Among the band’s UK appearances will be headline slots at this year’s Reading & Leeds, as well as a massive outdoor show in Edinburgh. Find tickets for the band’s UK dates here, and North American ones here.

Last month, the band pledged to donate $475,000 (£387,000) to reproductive rights organisations in Wisconsin and Illinois. The sum was raised through ticket sales to their shows in the two US states, including last night’s gig. It came in response to the US Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that made abortion legal on a federal level. Earlier this year, the band shared a statement supporting abortion rights in the US.

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