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Concert Reviews:
Prophets of Rage pulverize at DTE

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Friday, September 2, 2016

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- "Does it feel good to rage again?" MC B-Real asked the DTE Energy Music Theatre crowd early during Prophets of Rage's pulverizing concert on Thursday night, Sept. 1.

He could not have offered up a more rhetorical question.

Election year politics may be the cited as the inspiration for Prophets of Rage, an all-star combination of Rage Against the Machine's instrumentalists (guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk), B-Real from Cypress Hill and Public Enemy MC Chuck D and DJ Lord. But while charged and even incendiary political and social commentary dripped from nearly every one of the 25 songs played all or in part during the Make America Rage Again Tour's stop at DTE, the group clearly exists to play this material -- particularly the Rage Against the Machine tracks that haven't been trotted out live by these players together in six years. As Morello -- who taped a "Nobody For President" sign on the back of one of his instruments -- said later in the show, "The message is not complicated. The world is NOT gonna change itself. That's up to you...But all that can wait 'til tomorrow, 'cause tonight we're gonna have a good (expletive) time, people!"

Prophets and their fans most certainly did, as the group, well, raged for nearly a hour and 45 minutes after DJ Lord hyped the 8,000 or so in attendance, first with "The Star Spangled Banner" and then nimble set of rock and hip-hop favorites deftly scratched together. The show proper started with sirens and swirling red lights before the sextet hit hard with "Prophets of Rage," the Public Enemy song that gave the group its name, and then an onslaught of Rage Against the Machine favorites such as "Guerilla Radio," "Bombtrack" and "People of the Son."

The vast majority of the show came from the Rage catalog, in fact, and while frontman and lyricist Zack de la Rocha was certainly missed, the bi-coastal tandem of B-Real and Chuck D was a more than acceptable substitute. Their own consciousness is certainly in lockstep with Rage's social sensibilities, and they traded rhymes and shared lines like they'd been working together for years, bringing new and equally powerful textures to the songs.

"We got together to send a (expletive) message -- Wake up! Stay awake!" B-Real, sporting a sheik-style headdress, told the crowd towards the end of the show. He and D, standing in the pit between the stage and the crowd, also took over the show for a crowd-pleasing medley of Public Enemy and Cypress Hill hits, wrapping up with House of Pain's party anthem "Jump Around."

Morello was his usual human highlight, wringing a variety of otherwordly noises out of his guitar and firing off face-melting solos during "Take The Power Back," a slick pairing of Audioslave's "Cochise" and Public Enemy's "She Watch Channel Zero?," the grarage rock-flavored "Calm Like a Bomb" and an extended rendition of the Beastie Boys' "No Sleep Til Brooklyn." Morello and his Rage mates also created fierce new instrumental backings for the likes of Cypress Hill's "How I Could Just Kill A Man" and Public Enemy's "Miuzi Weighs A Ton" and "Shut 'Em Down," reminding the DTE crowd that they can go toe-to-toe with any rock band on the planet, of any genre, and have a good chance of coming out on top.

Bassist Commerford, however, was none too happy with the crowd during the opening set by his punk band WakRat, threatening to "trim three songs" from Prophets' show because of their lukewarm reception. That fortunately did not transpire, and by the time the night finished with the one-two punch of "Bulls On Parade" and "Killing In The Name," there wasn't a soul at the amphitheater who didn't want Prophets to rage on for many years to come.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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