RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
Any discerning music fan (at least, those who reside in the UK) will already be aware of the story how Rage Against the Machine's most famous song, 1992's 'Killing in the Name', stormed the UK charts once again, seventeen years after its original release, and found its way to the number one spot at Christmas. The Christmas number one had become almost a certainty year on year, with the over-exposure of mindlessly regurgitated pop music to millions of Saturday night TV viewers who succumbed to watching Simon Cowell's glorified karaoke competition known as the 'The X Factor'. The timely climax of the programme and subsequent release of the winner's single meant that yet another mundane piece of pap was virtually guaranteed to be the nation's Christmas number one. It had become a tried and tested pattern by Cowell and his seemingly failproof business plan that succeeded in both making the evil genius a ton more money while simultaneously frustrating the nation's genuine music fans. Two such fans, Jon and Tracy Morter, set about foiling Cowell's annual success when, towards the end of 2009, they launched a Facebook campaign online, to try and get 'Killing in the Name' to number one, in the very same week that Cowell's karaoke crooner should be hitting the top spot. Through the unremitting power of a viral social media crusade, their campaign gathered a surprising amount of momentum and they succeeded - no doubt to the horror of Cowell and his horde of pap fans, but to the utter delight of everyone else. The true music fan spoke; a triumph of musical sincerity over commercial sell-out. And the icing on the cake? The band donated a hundred percent of all proceeds earnt from single sales to the homeless charity, Shelter... a wonderfully selfless gesture, that was also extended to the band's UK fans when they promised a free show at Finsbury Park in London the following year. Eventually, after a 5+ year wait, said show has finally seen the light of day with this great DVD release.
Also available on Blu-ray, the DVD has been submitted for review, so I won't be able to pass judgement on its HD counterpart... suffice to say, though, the SD picture quality, upscaled, is good enough. Great, in fact, for a DVD. As is the audio, of which there are three different options - Dolby Digital Stereo; Dolby Digital 5.1; DTS Surround Sound (the latter is, perhaps, the most sonically expansive, and my preference here). Montage-wise, the show's been filmed brilliantly and edited to perfection, with the action captured both on and off stage. Oh yes, for this is a show about the fans as much as the band, for it's through the music buying public that this came to be in the first place, of course. And it seems everyone was pumped up for the occasion as, when Rage appear on stage and launch into opener 'Testify', the mammoth audience erupts into what must be one of the biggest mosh pits caught on film, as a mass of bodies can be seen bouncing up and down, with movement every which way and a whole host of crowd surfers. Such is the intensity of the pit, it prompts frontman Zack de la Rocha to tell the crowd at the conclusion of the track: "be very careful and look out for one another". The hits come thick and fast although, with a running time of just 68 minutes, climaxing with, of course, 'Killing in the Name', I do wonder whether the entire set features here. Rage are every bit dynamic and awesome in their performance as you'd expect, and the impassioned performance of 'Killing in the Name', coupled with watching the crowd's fervently euphoric reaction, is a genuinely touching moment. It's neatly preceded by a series of onscreen quotes (that would've appeared on screens each side of the stage), that highlight Cowell's ignorance and arrogance, as well as the winner of his karaoke comp, Joe McElderry, expressing his hatred of Rage's anthem in the most mindlessly dismissive of ways. There's also a touching moment when Jon and Tracy Morter are invited on stage midway through the set, exchanging hugs with each band member, and are then presented with a cheque for Shelter. And that's the real triumph right there... which instantly belittles Cowell and McElderry's arrogance. Wonderful stuff!
So, what's offered up aside from the show itself? Well, the unmistakable, resonant tones of Public Enemy's Chuck D narrates a more than apt intro that disses Cowell as much as eulogising Rage and hailing the genuine music fan. There's a 6+ minute interview with Jon and Tracy, who explain their motivation for the campaign, why 'Killing in the Name' was their song of choice, and a phonecall he received from Cowell himself, congratulating him for the campaign's success, whatever the outcome... okay, as much as I've dissed Cowell for prioritising business over actual music, it's nice to hear, once again, that he's ultimately a nice guy (something I have heard directly before, to be honest, when ex-'Art Attack' presenter and Marseille guitarist Neil Buchanan told me about his charity work). Rounding off the bonus material, there's also a 'Behind the Scenes' featurette that runs just short of 5 minutes, featuring random fan footage, clips from around the site, and interviews, including an interesting one with cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, whose technical talk about capturing the show on film offers an interesting, though brief, insight as to just how he achieved that.
All in all, this is a great little package. If you're already a Rage fan, you'll undoubtedly want to pick up a copy of this immediately, particularly as the future of the band is an uncertain one, which may see them never reform again. As such, this might be the final ever release for the band. And casual followers of their music... I'm sure you, too, will be able to appreciate the power of their live fury that's been captured ever so brilliantly on this film. Hell, even people who have more than a passing interest in music history might want to own this show for the reason of all that it represents. Highly recommended.
Eagle Rock Entertainment
LIVE AT FINSBURY PARK
Review by Mark Holmes
16th Oct 2015
1) Testify; 2) Bombtrack; 3) People of the Sun; 4) Know Your Enemy; 5) Bulls on Parade; 6) Township Rebellion; 7) Bullet in the Head; 8) White Riot; 9) Guerilla Radio; 10) Sleep Now in the Fire; 11) Freedom; 12) Killing in the Name
Bonus Features: Behind the Scenes; Interview with Jon and Tracy Morter
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...even people who have more than a passing interest in music history might want to own this show for the reason of all that it represents. Highly recommended."