AUSTIN, Texas — It might not have been the Rage Against the Machine gig that rumors had predicted, but Tom Morello's late-night set on Thursday at the Parish was pretty remarkable nonetheless. While many took the show's billing — "Tom Morello with special guests" — to mean his Rage bandmates, instead, the crowd got an impromptu supergroup for a large chunk of the set. Indeed, even those expecting a surprise were flabbergasted to see Morello and his backing musicians walk onstage accompanied by Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash, former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, and Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell — and immediately launch into Jane's classics "Mountain Song" and "Ain't No Right." Farrell, dapper in a dark waistcoat and ruffled shirt, grinned and bobbed while he sang; actor Breckin Meyer turned in a strong performance on the drums (who knew?); Slash peeled off stinging leads; and Morello and Kramer — both more commonly associated with crushing power chords — incongruously bashed away on acoustic guitars.
The all-stars then ceded the stage to Morello for his Nightwatchman set (the name of his politically inspired, folk-singing alter-ego: see "Nightwatchman, Rage Reunion Have Morello Fired Up For Political Fights"), but not before Farrell pointed to him and said to the crowd, "If there was ever a candidate for the next president, you're looking at him right there."
Morello then promised more surprises to come, and after he and his band performed several politically outspoken songs from the Nightwatchman LP, along with a version of Rage Against the Machine's "Guerilla Radio," introducing it with, "This one is for the people who couldn't get tickets to Coachella" (see "Rage Against The Machine To Reunite For Coachella Festival"). The guests then returned, and Kramer broke into the legendary introduction for the MC5's 1968 rabble-rousing anthem, "Kick Out the Jams" — oddly, in what seemed like a Borat-inspired accent. The band tore through the song — with another fiery solo from Slash — before bringing singer/songwriter Alexi Murdoch onstage for one of his songs. Finally, the assembled musicians broke into a rocked-up take on Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," trading off verses; Farrell gamely attempted to read the lyrics from a sheet but soon tossed it aside, laughing. Primus bassist Les Claypool came out toward the song's end, and did not sing a verse but instead served up a typically mellifluous bass solo. (Former Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, who has recently worked with Farrell, was on and offstage throughout the night as well.)
As the shambolic song wound down to the end, people onstage and off were all smiles at what had transpired at the end of a night that already had plenty of excitement (see "Amy Winehouse Raises Eyebrows, Bloc Party Draw A Mob As SXSW Wakes Up").
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