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Prophets Of Rage At Barclay Center, Saturday, August 27th, 2016, Reviewed


Prophets Of Rage, the supergroup made up of Rage Against The Machine without Zach de la Rocha, and Chuck D and B-Real, performed their “Make America Rage Again” concert at Barclay Center last night. In the middle of the set, Chuck and B went into the crowd, leaving the stage to DJ Lord, and rapped verses from their classics to an ecstatic audience: “Hand on the Pump “, “Can’t Truss It “, “Insane in the Brain”, “Bring the Noise “, “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That” and ” Welcome to the Terrordome”. True Groove owner Tomas Doncker turned to me and said “This isn’t hip hop, this is rap”, and in a night that included Tom Morello performing miracles on his guitar, Jake Clemons on loan from the E Street Band. and a mountain of great agitprop, it was rock but it was rap as well. More rap, the mid-90s explosion that brought us Public Enemy and brought us Rage AGainst The Machine, mix and match rap. And while the reason might have been politically motivated, a get out the don’t vote, it was a nostalgia trip that stripped rap back from its hip hop mangling over the past twenty odd years.

Or perhaps a Rage Against The Machine reunion in wolves clothing. Barclay Center was far from sold out, and given this was a true 90s supergroup, politics notwithstanding, perhaps the missing Zach Was too big a deal. If you want to see Tom or Chuck, it isn’t that difficult, and the entire Prophets Of Rage is dependent upon access to the band where access is no problem. SO, the fans are staying away and it seems to affect Prophets Of Rage not an iota. The stayhomers loss. As a huge fan of Public Enemy, who was never that crazy over Rage or Cypress Hill,  I was astounded how great it was. I went out of a sort of general interest but was schooled by Tomas, who called Chuck D and B-Real two of the greatest rappers of all time, but left his highest praise for Tom Morello. Tomas, who is no slouch when it comes to electric guitar himself, called Morello technically just proficient but sonically incredible and a true one of a kind stylist.

Morello was astonishing on song after song, his product placement on “Miuzi Wears A Ton” added a dimension to PE that seemed so natural and unnatural, the sonic pull of “Bullet To The Head” was made sense of by “The Ghost Of Tom Joad” (“the only Boss you should ever listen to”). What was he doing with his guitar? I’m clueless and Tomas was mesmerized, Morello unplugging something, plugging in something else, and next thing you know the Arena is awash in white noise before morphing back to a loud metal riff. Morello gave a legend defining performance.

Still, it wasn’t just him, that frontline, bassist  Tom Commerford, Chuck D, Real B, and Morello, were the essence of rap and rock, so powerful they make all other rap rock bands sound like Adele. And while, if you read my pan of their new EP, you might wonder how it happened… I don’t know what happened during the recording sessions but my bet is ,give em more touring time and send em back.

Chuck D and Real B traded off to perfection, the stamina, the attack, the loud, blaring, blurting anger of the performance brought a distilled roar to the worst Presidential election in memory. Yeah, it is all a little politically asinine, preaching to the converted, and, their final assessment, sit it out, hits me as a cop out, so what? They aren’t politicians, what does it matter if they’re wrong, or simplistic? It is a wrongful, simplistic time. Simply as a night of tear off your head rap power grind that spits in the face of so much current rock, it worked on many, many levels. A nostalgia trip that wasn’t one, a sound old fashioned and one of a kind, a cathartic rush past the past… that was a damn good rock concert.

Grade: A

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