Prophets of Rage Rally the Troops in Cleveland – Live Review
After spending much of their afternoon sonically terrorizing the attendees of the Republican National Convention, the Prophets of Rage delivered a stirring nighttime concert in front of a sweaty, sold-out crowd at the Agora in Cleveland, Ohio.
Immediately following an impressive and crowd-pleasing set by Prophets / Public Enemy's DJ Lord, his bandmates walked out, posed in silhouette in front of blinding white lights while sirens blared, then kicked into a rollicking version of the PE song that gave them their name. (I don't know why I'm telling you all this, you can see it in the video above.)
The crowd went bananas right away, but they invented a new reaction level – double-bananas?? – for the next song, the Rage Against the Machine anthem "Guerrilla Radio." With three-quarters of that band making up half of Prophets of Rage, it makes sense that those are the songs most of the crowd came to hear, and they got more than their money's worth as the group's back catalog dominated the set list.
Public Enemy frontman Chuck D and Cypress Hill's B-Real did a fantastic job on the Rage songs, switching between lead and supporting roles as if they'd been working together for years. Guitarist Tom Morello remains a wonder to witness in person, constantly dipping into a bag of genre-blending tricks that always serve the song and never feel like gimmicks. Bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk seem to be giving the Rage songs just a bit more space to breathe, which both provides a better setting for Chuck D and B-Real and makes Morello's riffs hit even harder.
Even if most of the crowd disagreed, the funnest part was watching the Rage members adapt Public Enemy's songs for instrument-based performances. (Got some more suggestions for you right here, guys!) A slow-burning version of their 1987 track "Miuzi Weighs a Ton" was highlighted by Morello channeling Steve Vai during the solo, and he introduced "Shut 'Em Down" with his own take on Eddie Van Halen's "Cathedral" volume-knob swelling technique.
Of course, all six band members took every chance they could to send as many middle fingers as possible towards Donald Trump and the members of the RNC across town. The crowd ate it up, joining in on repeated thunderous "F--- you, I won't do what you tell me" refrains during the set-closing "Killing in the Name" as a banner featuring the group's Trump-mocking "Make America Rage Again" slogan dropped from the rafters.
The Prophets of Rage will begin their proper arena tour (campaign?) on Aug. 19 in Fairfax, Va. You can get a complete list of dates at their official website.
21 Artists Inspired by Rage Against the Machine