Rage Against The Machine
@ Makuhari Messe Kokusai Tenjijo (09th Feb. '08)
No Rust On This Machine
There was a definite buzz on the streets around Kaihin Makuhari eki as thousands of faithfuls flocked to the massive Makuhari Messe convention centre for the return of Rage Against The Machine. More than seven years after disbanding, the outspoken Los Angeles quartet were in town for the first of two Tokyo-area shows.
A bit of a hike from the city, the performance start time was delayed 25 minutes to ensure stragglers had the chance to witness every moment of what was once an explosive live experience. Would it still pack the same punch as it did in the mid and late 90s?
With the flag of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation acting as a backdrop, without playing a single note RATM showed that age hasn't dulled any of their political edge. Sticking with their classic, low-key introduction, they slowly walked on stage and vocalist Zack de la Rocha announced, "Good evening. We are Rage Against The Machine from Los Angeles, California." On cue, Messe became a huge sea of bouncing bodies as the first notes of "Testify" from 1999's The Battle of Los Angeles erupted through the speakers.
Locked into a tight groove that was equal parts funk and metal, bassist Tim Commerford bopped up and down while guitarist extraordinaire Tom Morello stamped his feet and spun around. Looking quite calm, de la Rocha simply nodded along to the music and pointed at the crowd while rapping, his lyrics occasionally getting lost in the mix inside the massive airplane hangar-like venue. By the end of the song, though, the old Zack emerged. Tossing his mic stand aside, he started wildly jumping and shaking his head as he screamed, "The war is right outside your door."
Without pause, RATM kicked into "Bulls On Parade" from 1996's Evil Empire while de la Rocha grinned and said, "It's been too God damned long." Judging from the cheers and thousands of pumping fists, it's a safe bet that many felt similar sentiments. After "Bulls On Parade" the group had little trouble keeping fans enthralled as they ran through what was essentially an 80-minute 'greatest hits' set from their four studio discs, including 2000's Renegades covers album.
Aside from the occasional "Check out this shit y'all," de la Rocha allowed his lyrics to speak for themselves. Sadly enough, many of the rants about social injustice, media manipulation, and inequality that appeared on 1993's epic self-titled release still ring true today. Whether or not the thousands of grinning spectators who eagerly sang along to rightfully angry anthems such as 'Vietnow,' 'Bombtrack,' and 'Sleep Now In The Fire' heeded the points being raised is a whole other issue.
The crowd went nuts as RATM fired off fantastic takes of 'Know Your Enemy,' 'Renegades Of Funk,' and 'Guerilla Radio' in succession. 'Calm Like A Bomb' was next, and although sounding great, it failed to match the intensity of the previous three tracks and slowed down the gig's momentum. Set closers 'Sleep Now In The Fire' and 'Wake Up' started to build things back up, but it wasn't until 'Freedom' was played during the encore that things really got moving again, with audience members enthusiastically joining de la Rocha for his rallying screams of 'Anger is a gift.'
Sticking with their time honoured formula, the act wrapped things up with unanimous favourite 'Killing In The Name,' complete with the notorious rebel rousing closing of 'Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me,' that attracted so much attention in 1993. Rumour has it that RATM may continue their reunion tour through the summer with some festival appearances. If Japan is lucky enough to get them back for Fuji Rock look for a capacity crowd at Green Stage to be repeating the famed ending late into the night.
No Rust On This Machine : Swinging Popsicle (9th Feb. @ Makuhari Messe Kokusai Tenjijo)
Music Makes The Perfect Gift : Swinging Popsicle (26th Jan. @ Baekam Art Hall, Seoul)
At The (Co) Core, It's Still Rock N' Roll : Cocore (19th Jan. @ Blue Spirit, Seoul)
Good Ol' Fashioned Hardcore Workout : Terror and The Geeks (5th Jan. @ Skunk Hell, Seoul)
Shirt N' Tie Affair : Oh! Brother and Cabinet Singalongs (22nd Dec. @ Velvet Banana Club, Seoul)
The Blues : The Zoobombs (10th Oct. @ Starlight, Waterloo, Ontario)
Girls Just Want To Have Fun : The Pipettes (9th Aug. @ Harajuku Astro Hall)
For Those About To Rock : Metalchicks (16th Jun. @ Shibuya O-Nest)
Great Expectations : Asakusa Jinta (12th May @ Yoyogi Zher The Zoo)
Interview : Everybody Dance Now : The Afet Collective (22nd May.)
Thank You For Not Being White : Think About Life (3rd May @ Harajuku Astro Hall)
Too Good To Resist : Bleach with Midori, Electric Eel Shock, Detroit7 (23rd Apr. @ Shimokitazawa Shelter)
History Repeating : Flogging Molly (16th Apr. @ Shibuya AX)
The Self-Proclaimed World's Third Best Punk Band : Converge (7th Apr. @ Shinkiba Studio Coast)
Don't Forget Your Manners : Converge (16th Mar. @ Shimokitazawa Club 251)
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Smoking Hot : Isis with These Arms Are Snakes, Boris (29th Jan. @ Shibuya Club Quattro
Hot In Herre : Calexico with Iron & Wine (27th Jan. @ Shibuya Club Quattro
You Can Always Come Back Home : Deerhoof (20th Jan. @ Shinjuku Loft)
The Untouchables : The Roots (15th Jan. @ Shibuya O-East)
Dream A Little Dream : The Album Leaf (13th Jan. @ Liquidroom Ebisu)
Here Today ... Gone To Hell : Arab Strap (11th Dec. @ Shibuya O-Nest)
Mo' Mo' Mo' Mo'some : Mo'some Tonebender (2nd Dec. @ Shibuya AX)
Good Things Come In Threes : Bleach with Ni-Hao!, Watusi Zombie (5th Nov. @ Yoyogi Zher the Zoo)
Glitter And Mop-tops : The Zutons (2nd Oct. @ Shibuya AX)
Twisting Minds And Tanning Behinds : Asylum Street Spankers (17h Sept. @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
DVD review : I Know I'm Not Alone : Michael Franti & Spearhead (4th Oct.)
Melodic Metal Monday : Dark Tranquility w/ Galneryus (1th Sept. @ Daikanyama Unit)
Give Me Something I Can Dance To! : Fangsanalsatan Extra feat. The Stars, Boris, Guitar Wolf (22nd Jul. @ Shinjuku Loft)
Melting Everything In Their Path : Melt-Banana (9th Jul. @ Yokohama Club 24)
Never Too Old To Party : Shonen Knife (8th Jul. @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
An Early Summer Night's Dream : Belle and Sebastian (3rd Jun. @ Shinagawa Prince Stellar Ball)
Zoobombcrazy : The Zoobombs (6th May. @ Yoyogi Zher The Zoo)
F-U-N : Limited Express (Has Gone?) (2nd Apr. @ Yoyogi Zher The Zoo)
Full CCCIIIRRRCCCLLLEEE : Cave In (25th Mar. @ Shibuya Club Asia)
The Perfect Storm : Mono (18th Mar. @ Shibuya O-Nest)
School Of Rock : The White Stripes (6th Mar. @ Zepp Tokyo)
Far From Extinct : Dinosaur Jr. (27th Feb. @ Shibuya AX)
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Walk The Line : Afrirampo (29th Jan. @ Higashi Koenji UFO Club)
Every Girl's Crazy About A Sharp Dressed Man : Kaiser Chiefs (23rd Jan. @ Liquidroom Ebisu)
All That And Looks Too : Tristan Prettyman (22nd Jan. @ Shibuya AX)