Monday, August 15, 2022

Rage Against the Machine w/ Run the Jewels @ Madison Square Garden (August 14, 2022)

Like many people back in the 1990s and 2000s, I was a fan of Rage Against the Machine. And over the course of my concert-going this was one of the bands that I wished I had gotten a chance to see live. So when their reunion tour got announced for summer of 2020 I jumped at my friend Roger's offer to go with him to see them. Fast forward 2 years, a global pandemic, and two postponements. And then Zack (the frontman) went and (according to a report) tore his Achilles tendon about a month ago - two shows into the tour. The band still powered through this first leg of the tour (ending with 5 sold-out nights at MSG), but have cancelled the European portion later this year so that Zack can heal up. As an aside, I didn't know about the injury until Roger told me in between sets at the show.

Roger got us a couple of general admission tickets on the floor. I figured (especially at Fran's urging) that this would be a good first time wearing ear plugs at a show; it's not quite the same, but I didn't miss much (besides hearing loss). Run the Jewels as the opening act wasn't too spectacular, but wasn't bad at all either. I'm a mild fan of their music, but I still think that most hip-hop performances just don't translate as well live as other genres that involve playing instruments.

When RATM came on, the band members carried their injured singer onto the stage; which was a nice touch. He spent most of the show seated in the middle of the stage, but his limited mobility didn't prevent him from bringing his trademark energy. Similarly, the rest of the band were impressively energetic for being in their 50s. It's amazing to see what Tom can do on the guitar. I also liked the clean and open set design with a big screen and lots of lights.

They played 20 songs over about 1h45m.  Their setlist was loaded with the classics, mostly from their earlier albums; "earlier" being relative, as their last album (which was all covers anyway) was released in 2000. While it was great to see and hear all those iconic songs being performed, I was ready to go by the time the show ended. Maybe my bad back and advancing age can't handle standing for 3+ hours anymore. Or maybe it's also that their music does get a bit repetitive after a while.

In any case, I'm glad that I got to see them live, even without the full spectacle of Zack jumping all over the stage. Perhaps I didn't appreciate it as much as I would have 20 years ago, but it was still pretty good.


Rating: 4.3/5