Rage Against The Machine thanked die hard fans for a Christmas chart victory over Simon Cowell with an explosive performance in Finsbury Park on Sunday afternoon. Revolutionary fervour hung heavy in the air, as the thousands lucky enough to snap up a ticket to the free festival were treated to a riotous set of the band's underground hits.
The weather for the most part managed to hold throughout the afternoon, to the crowd's relief, as support act Gallows opened festivities with their punk-rock stylings and a rousing rendition of The Sex Pistol's hit God Save The Queen. Veteran crowd pleasers Roots Manuva followed with a sensually-sleazy set and Gogol Bordello rounded out the last of the support acts with their unique bohemian-gypsy-punk sound - topped off by a band member flinging the bass drum into the audience, then crowd surfing to retrieve it.
With audience anticipation at a fever pitch, it was time for the main event. A cartoon depiction of Simon Cowell mocked the crowd from giant television screens around the stage, before reluctantly introducing "The greatest rock band in the world...Rage Against The Machine" to thunderous approval.
Rage's set did not disappoint the gathered fans, opening with 'Testify', which merely whet the appetite for what was to follow. Iconic Rage frontman Zack de la Rocha delivered rousing classics from Rage's seminal first album 'Bombtrack', 'Know Your Enemy', 'Freedom' 'Township Rebellion' and 'Bullet In The Head' alongside fellow bandmates Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford.
Midway through their set, the band introduced and thanked Jon and Tracey Morter, the couple responsible for the Facebook campaign that catapulted Rage to the top of the 2009 Christmas charts. After presenting the couple with a cheque for the homeless charity Shelter (the proceeds from the sales of the single at Christmas), Rage finished their set with 'Bulls On Parade', 'Sleep Now In The Fire', 'Guerilla Radio' and a tribute to the British punk scene, a cover of The Clash's 'White Riot', which all heightened the sense of anarchy hanging over the audience.
During the pause between Rage's final song and their encore, defeated Joe McElderry's single 'The Climb' filled the air to riotous laughter and hooting from the crowd. The band then returned to the stage to unleash 'Killing In The Name', in an incendiary finish to the band's magnanimous gesture of thanks to their loyal UK fans.
By Ryan Hutchison
Photography by Katie McKenzie