Rage Against the Machine’s two sold-out Irvine Meadows shows marked the end of their U.S. tour, their set a blistering 90 minutes of the band’s patented brand of politically charged hip-hop metal. The two-month tour reportedly out-sold Lollapalooza, H.O.R.D.E. and the other festival tours in many markets this summer and, following a string of stadium shows with U2, the four members of Rage are in the best performing shape of their six-year careers.
As a bright, nearly full moon rose behind the large outdoor stage, the band blasted into the provocative “People of the Sun,” from last year’s multiplatinum album “Evil Empire” (Epic), and immediately revealed an expanded groove-oriented approach.
The band’s recent experiments add nuance and dynamics to their furious mix of super-charged guitar rock and left-wing sloganeering; most noticeable Thursday was an unrecorded and untitled song that railed against corporate entities such as NBC, which the band has sparred with in the past, and Disney. The song’s jazzy intro hinted at what might be expected from the band’s next recording session.
Dreadlocked hyper-singer Zack de la Rocha bounded madly about the stage — picture a man trying to run on a sheet of ice while violently shaking a swarm of bees from his head — screaming his lyrics of protest and revolution.
Rage also played their version of Bruce Springsteen’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” which the Boss probably wouldn’t recognize. Show closed not with their usual exit song “Freedom,” but with a three-song encore capped by the riotous “Killing in the Name.”
Friday’s second show also featured Foo Fighters, making their local debut with new guitarist Franz Stahl.