Prophets Of Rage – Spark Arena March 20, 2018

On a beautiful, sunny Tuesday, the Prophets of Rage tore apart Auckland’s Spark Arena with their loud, aggressive and rehashed nu metal and alternative rap rock and showed the men in the White House that they were not taking any of their shit. But really? Are they really needed? Are they relevant?

Prophets of Rage, all I have to say is “Oh my God”, the idea of this band is just… cringey.

When I first heard of the band, it was before the 45th and arguably the worst President of the USA was elected into the White House. With slogans like “Make America Rage Again”, it was obvious that this was a “Rage Against The Machine” reunion gone wrong. Pairing original members Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford with rappers B-Real from Cypress Hill and Chuck D of Public Enemy, assisted by DJ Lord, also of Public Enemy, this ‘reunion from hell’ was almost more laughable than bad-ass. Set up to protest Trump at the beginning of ‘16, it soon became obvious that not enough people listened to message or the music and er… Trump won.

Two years later, the band is hitting New Zealand, having recently released a disappointing album whose only positive was it showcased Tom Morello as an amazing guitarist (not that we didn’t already know. But who am I kidding, this was one concert I wanted to attend so badly, after all, my year eleven is smothered with memories of me listening to Rage Against The Machine and thinking there really was a political war to be fought at the time.

This was undoubtedly the closest I would ever get to a full Rage reunion after missing their 2008 appearance at the Big Day Out due to being too young and my lack of appreciation for the band.

Tonight’s opening acts were Alien Weaponry and DJ Lord.

Alien Weaponry are one New Zealand band making some serious waves at the moment. Finding their ignition on Smokefree Rock Quest in 2015 and 2016 (in which they placed first), they would find themselves being booked by some of New Zealand’s biggest festivals such as Soundsplash and recently Auckland City Limits. The future is looking bright for this young Te Reo Metal band as they’re are currently in preparation for their upcoming European tour which sees them playing festivals with the big shots like Judas Priest and Cannibal Corpse. I knew this was one band I had to witness.

Alien Weaponry proved worthy of their given title as metal “up and comers”. Playing with raw energy throughout their set, these young metal-heads showed everyone how much they kick ass with their heavy riffs and aggressive roars. These are some guys i recommend seeing ASAP.

At 9:20 DJ Lord took to his decks to belt out a set of old and new hip hop classics from Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Snoop Dogg to Jason Derulo. He even chucked in a few rock classics and wild cards like Metallica, White Stripes and even the Star Wars theme song. Although I thought he chose an unusual mix of songs, DJ Lord definitely was enough to get the crowd and mosh pit bubbling for the main headliners of the night.

Ending his set with a remixed, scratched out, pitched up version of Smells Like Teen Spirit by legends Nirvana, the lights went dark then red, symbolizing rage, strength and leadership.

The other five members appeared on stage and wasted no time, blasting straight into Public Enemy’s Prophets of Rage, the audience was on fire and fighting each other. Fists went straight in the air when B Real introduced the band and announced they were here to “fuck shit up”, while Tom Morello flipped his guitar backwards to reveal a “Fuck Trump” sign attached. I think it’s safe to say that these guys really don’t like Donald Trump.

Afterwards, they pulled out a couple of Rage Against the Machine songs, Testify and Take the Power Back for which Chuck B would dedicate to the Maori people, it’s good to see he did his research before coming.

One fact that was obvious throughout the night was that the Rage Against the Machine songs were what got everyone most excited and pumped with energy while unfortunately the band’s original material made most audience members snooze. But,let’s face it, any Rage track is going to get the party started, they were one of the best bands of the 90s and their self-titled album is stacked with bangers.

Dedicating the first original song of the night to immigrants and stoners, plumes of smoke went up in the air and then the instrument playing members departed the stage, allowing Chuck B, B Real and DJ Lord to show the us audience members some old school hip hop.

This was the part of the night that really determined whether Cypress Hill or Public Enemy were the second most popular music act (first obviously being Rage). It clearly proved that Cypress Hill were more in favour when hits such as Insane In The Brain and We Ain’t Goin Out Like That were played. Before inviting the Rage members back on stage, B Real and Chuck B demanded everyone in the audience to crouch down for the upcoming track Jump Around by House of Pain, sadly this was an underwhelming experience and really did not go off with a bang.

By the time Sleep Now In The Fire was played, the energy in the crowd had fizzled out and people seemed disinterested, frankly so was I. This was overturned when Chuck B, DJ Lord and B Real left stage.

Finally, Tom Morello got a hold of the microphone. I love this guy so much. While speaking to the crowd, he shared his love for New Zealand, listed the bands the members have visited New Zealand apart of and to pay homage to the late Chris Cornell to which lifted everyone from their seats. Then he invited musical legend, System of a Down frontman and New Zealand resident Serj Tankian on stage to help perform Audioslave track Like a Stone. How did I not see this one coming?

Closing the night on a high note with a large string of Rage tracks, B Real shared a few words about the state of the world and sticking together which helped introduce, what he claimed was, “the most dangerous song of all time”, Killing In the Name Of,…the moment everyone was really waiting for.

Everyone was standing with fists and middle fingers up in the air again, the loudest sing-along of the night, “FUCK YOU, I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME”, who couldn’t sing along to such a legendary lyric?

Sadly, I left the show feeling underwhelmed and unimpressed, I don’t know quite what I was expecting but it definitely wasn’t what I just watched. This wasn’t exactly the Rage reunion I wanted and I felt like I had just watched a tribute act, a kind of “Rage lite”  with as much taste, flavour and point as alcohol free beer!

Maybe this was a sign I should give bands who aren’t with their original frontman/woman a miss. Regardless, I had never seen so many satisfied bogans in one place, maybe I just don’t have an ear for this sort of stuff anymore while some just never lost it.

Jonathan Strock

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