Maybe it’s our government’s recent attempt to expand Australia’s arms manufacturing. Maybe it’s because Trump is president. But Rage Against The Machine’s 26-year old songs seem more relevant now than ever. While their first album was released during the first Bush administration, it retains its urgency. While fans no doubt hoped for a fulltime RatM reunion (started playing some concerts again in 2008) this is yet to happen.
The formation of Prophets of Rage in 2016 served to alleviate this disappointment. A ‘supergroup’ with members from RatM, Public Enemy, and Cyprus Hill, the band released their first album last year. Their first Australian tour included a concert at Sydney’s Horden Pavilion on 22 March. The show featured Dead Letter Circus and Bare Bones as support acts and the band’s DJ Lord performed a short set.
— Prophets of Rage (@prophetsofrage) March 22, 2018
While heavy on the respective bands’ old material, it would be a mistake to dismiss a Prophets of Rage concert as a nostalgia act. Their Sydney concert featured a good deal of Prophets’ new work, including Legalise Me, a song that the band said was dedicated to “the Dreamers”, whose legal status remains unresolved.
A sombre highlight was a tribute the former Audioslave members gave their fallen singer, Chris Cornell, who passed away in May 2018. Their rendition of Like A Stone, a song that Cornell once famously told Tim Commerfield was about dying, was all the more haunting with no lyrics. They made Cornell’s absence all the more clear, including the spotlight on stage where he would have been standing. Tom Morello encouraged fans that knew the words to sing them, and those that didn’t to “say a prayer for peace.” The tribute has been a fixture of previous concerts.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor