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On 20th December 2009, Rage Against the Machine made music history. For the previous four years, reality Televsion show, The X Factor, had claimed the Christmas No.1 spot for their winner. In December last year, Jon and Tracy Morter created a facebook group encouraging people to purchase Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’ in an effort to beat X Factor winner Joe McElderry to the number one spot. The Morters started the group in order to bring back the way in which the music charts used to be “exciting” and unpredictable.
The Rage Factor
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Rage Against the Machine
Finsbury Park, London
Sun 6 Jun 2010[/info]
Touched by the Morter’s efforts and support of the public, lead singer of Rage, Zach De la Rocha declared that the band would perform a free concert in the UK to celebrate the win. So when Rage Against the Machine beat Joe McElderry to the number one spot last year, selling over 500,000 copies of the single which had been first released in 1992, Rage kept their promise.
In February 2010, the public were encouraged to register for the chance to attend the free gig planned for Finsbury Park on 6th June. Registration was needed in order to ensure that people would not sell the tickets on, as photographs were to be printed on them. After registering, the tickets were released on a rolling lottery, allowing people to get through to the ticket booking page online at random times. I was one of the 40,000 lucky people to get hold of one of these “golden” tickets.
The gates to Finsbury Park opened at 2pm on 6th June, with masses of fans making their way from all across the country, and even from overseas. I entered the park to find a huge festival style venue, with a complete fairground and plenty of overpriced food stalls and bars. We were lucky enough for a sunny day, despite a brief shower and fears of a thunderstorm. After travelling for almost five hours to get to the gig, my sleepy and rather impatient state quickly disappeared. There were DJs performing from 2pm, and the first support act, Gallows, took the stage at 5:2opm. I had never really listened to the band before, but they opened with a fantastic rendition of the Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save the Queen’, an apt choice for the event. Gallows were highly energetic and enjoyable to watch, performing a few of their own songs and another cover, this time from another London band, The Clash. ‘We Fought the Law’ was another great choice for the gig, successfully gearing the crowd up for the rest of the evening.
Next on were Roots Manuva, but I felt that their lack of energy in comparion to Gallows meant that the crowd lost interest, many people returning to take seats on the ground or make another trip to the bar. New York “gypsy punk band” Gogol Bordello were a vast improvement on this. I had never listened to the band before but I was very pleasantly surprised. The band has an amazing presence on stage and certainly got the crowd going. Whilst I wasn’t familiar with any of their music, I found myself dancing along with the crowd, bringing my energy levels back up.
A huge seven hours after the gates opened, Rage Against the Machine took to the stage. The band’s appreciation of what their fans had done for them was clear in their performance, which was outstanding. Rage had 40,000 people jumping around to their music, along with the countless number of people that managed to break in to the venue. Halfway through their set, legendary guitarist Tom Morello introduced Jon and Tracy Morter, the couple that started the Rage Factor campaign. Morello then presented the Morters with a cheque for Shelter, donating all of the proceeds from the sale of the single to the charity.
Highlights of Rage’s set included an on oustanding cover of The Clash’s ‘White Riot’, emphasising the band’s political tone. Morello’s many guitars used in the night also included messages such as “Shelter” and “Arm the Homeless”. However, the high point of the whole event was without a doubt the performance of the chart topping single, ‘Killing in the Name’. The whole audience were screaming along to the infamous vocals, “F*** you, I won’t do what you tell me”.
One thing I would criticise is the organisation of the event exit, which consisted of one gate for 40,000 fans. This led to police blocking off all the roads in the area which caused uproar amongst the fans and involved several arrests and injuries.
Despite the increasingly violent atmosphere at the gig, with alcohol induced fights and objects such as shoes and bottles flying across the audience, attending The Rage Factor was certainly a privilege.