Tonight was going to be something special without a doubt for you see this afternoon began the four day stint of this year’s NY Comic Con at the Javits Center and if you were a member of the press, a professional or one of the lucky fans who were able to get the “4 Day Pass”, then you would get to also enjoy a free mini-concert by Tom Morello along with a closing DJ set. This was a great way to close out the myriad of findings if you were a diehard comics and science fiction fan because you would be indulging your senses in the surroundings before the massive crush of humanity would begin moving in on Friday and (gasp) Saturday thanks to your earlier access. The free concert was just some additional icing on the proverbial cake. Now most people know Tom Morello as the former guitarist of Rage Against The Machine and the band Audioslave but many might not be aware at how he still performs regularly using the guise of The Nightwatchman and believe it or not he is also currently penning his own comic book series for Dark Horse Comics. The comic is called “Orchid” and is set in a very bleak future of our world. I breezed through a copy in PDF format before the Con and think a deeper analysis will be forthcoming on the official blog since I periodically do things like that over there. It did seem interesting.
The show was held in the IGN Theatre down on the lower level of the Javits Center and I believe that the capacity holds about 3000 people in total when set for standing room. Morello came out just a little after 7:30pm and spoke to the fans about the band behind him being called “The Freedom Fighter Orchestra” and he added some other banter in before opening up the music with “It Begins Tonight” which comes from his latest CD under his Nightwatchman guise. If you are not up to date on this role of his, it is his chance to play what can best be referred to as “Activism Rock” and perhaps in some sense “Revolutionary Rock”; I guess if you had to draw a quick comparison to something else you can say that he was aiming at being a modern day Woody Guthrie. Some folks love this side of the musician and I had to say that I was more on the fence about it. From afar you could see that his guitar had something writing on it, and it was the words “Arm The Homeless”. I was standing far left of the stage so it took me a few minutes to gauge them. Those folks in the front probably had a better visual but they were not budging and who could blame them. He swapped guitars and told a little story about a hero in his mind or something of that nature and he called this guitar “Black Spartacus”. The guitars name led to yet another new track entitled “Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine” and I had to say that this song had some fire to it. The people around me included our good friend and occasional contributor Skeleton Pete Parrella and we all wondered if Morello was going to bring up the whole “Occupy Wall Street” protest that was going on Downtown and he did. As a matter of fact he applauded those people and said it was our time. He then dedicated the song “Save The Hammer For The Man” to them and I had to admit that it reminded me of the late great Warren Zevon’s “Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner” based on the flow and groove of the tune. The song was co-penned by the guitarist and Ben Waters. It worked. I was glad to learn that he went down there to support “the cause” because this is always what he is saying he is about. As a matter of fact when asked about a possible reunion with Rage Against The Machine, he said to the host how this kind of music and activism is the only thing on his mind.
The mood slowed down a bit with the much calmer “Garden Of Gethsemene” and while it was a nice number I felt that it really took a lot away from the earlier drive that we were experiencing. but really took a little away from the earlier drive. The acoustic guitar had the words “Whatever It Takes” on it but I am not sure what he was referencing here. It would seem that even his instruments are bearing messages in addition to the music. The mood and vibe of the brief set would pick up considerably with the most rocking version of “Ghost Of Tom Joad” that I had ever heard. Of course over the years I had only heard the Bruce Springsteen one which is solemn enough to make you want to find a tall bridge and say goodbye. I’ve heard that RATM had done this but have never heard it myself. With that the concert was over for Tom and while some of the very large crowd remained a good number also decided to make their exit as the full Con would really begin tomorrow and that means thousands upon thousands of like-minded geeks in one place enjoying everything around them. Tom’s comic book would be on sale at the concert but I didn’t see the table for this and am regretting it as now I need to find a more expensive issue in a comic store to get one. Oh well. I had to say that I left this performance having enjoyed Morello much more than I ever expected to. I had only been a marginal fan of Rage and I did not like Audioslave at all and as far as activism is concerned, I am not really one for picket signs and protests and prefer to address my interests in a different fashion. Still, to each their own. I do think that everyone inside the theater tonight had an awesome treat put in front of them, and I wish Tom the very best of luck with his comic book.
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