AS PER DOWNLOAD
An air raid siren sounds out across the Arena, and a huge black flag with a red star ascends at the back of the stage. Rage Against The Machine casually jog on to stage. The applause from the crowd is thunderous.
“Good evening, we are Rage Against The Machine and we are from Los Angeles, California,” says front man Zach del la Rocha, before the band explode in to Bombtrack.
It’s fast and funky, and the foot-stomping kicks off with a bang. Tom Morello’s dirty guitar riffs instantly switch from filthy licks to precise solos filled with furious fretwork. It’s instantly clear that we’re watching one of the best guitarists in the world here.
Zach chugs coffee in between songs, and commands the crowd like a true master of ceremonies.
“I want you all to please, please take care of one another,” he demands. “Look out for each other.”
Suddenly, drama. A few bars into People of the Sun, the band’s third track, they stop playing and all four members of the band look nervously to one section of the audience. One of the crowd has had an accident, and the boys want to make sure everything’s ok.
Without hesitation, Zach asks the audience to all take a few steps back. Everyone does, and the paramedics quickly do their thing. Then it’s back to business as usual, with Rage sending the masses wild once again.
RATM are known for injecting their politically influential messages to their performances, and their set at Download tonight is no different. Tom’s guitar has the words ‘Arm the Homeless’ scrawled across it, and Zach frequently chants “Fight the War” during various tracks.
There’s a message opposing Israel’s blockade of resources in the Gaza strip, which the crowd love. “All of us must intervene and stand up for our brothers,” Zach preaches. “It’s about solidarity and action”.
White Riot is followed by Bullet In The Head. Guerrilla Radio is rip-roaring, and Sleep Now In The Fire induces mass fist-pumping from the tens of thousands in attendance.
Out of no where Wake Up rears it’s sonically beautiful head, and we all go nuts. Zach and Tom throw themselves around the stage. Tim plays the role of the trust-worthy balls of the band. Every beat of Brad’s drum is tight as you like, and not a millisecond out of time.
There can be only one song for an encore. Even if you’ve never heard a rock track in your life, the mass chant from the audience of “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” before the band begins lets you know something special is coming.
It is, of course, sublime. Killing In The Name sounds better live than it does the thousands of times we’ve all heard it on record in the past. The atmosphere is electric, and Tom’s final chord of the night is the perfectly understated climax to a brutal day at Download.
Rage left the stage having set out what they achieved to do. Spread a political message. Thank their UK fans for never losing faith in them. And above all, to have an awesome time sending thousands of people wild on the world’s most prestigious rock turf.
All in all, Rage Against The Machine absolutely destroyed it.