So, Festival season is nearly upon us. So little time, so many to choose from. Personally, I’m off to Hellfest in France and most probably, Bestival. That is, of course, if my best friend does the decent thing and decides to get married on a different weekend in September. On the March 31, tickets went on sale for Reading and Leeds Festivals and everyone who grew up in the mid 90’s and was ‘that way inclined’ will be tempted to buy one. Why? Well, August bank holiday 2008 will signal the English return of four angry not so young men anymore: Rage Against the Machine (they will have already headlined T in the Park and Oxegen).

Here’s a question for you: Should we even care?

Let’s begin with this: This isn’t intended as an assault on a band I loved pretty much up until I discovered MP3’s in favour of CD’s. They were, pretty much the most important band, politically speaking anyway, of the 1990s. But that’s pretty much it. They were important, they were aggressive, they were relevant. Now they’re just four middle aged (ish) men, three of whom were so politically motivated that they joined that cash cow, Soundgarden, sorry Audioslave. I suppose the motivation behind a comeback tour really shouldn’t be put in doubt for Morello and his other 2 backing musicians. But what of Zack de la Rocha?

The band’s front man left ‘Rage’ in 2000 to pursue his solo career. His much anticipated solo album, put into production before he left ‘Rage’, is still, well, in production. de la Rocha worked with some of the best in the business on this album: Roni Size, ?uestlove, DJ Shadow and was still so unsure of his own material by the end of it to not stick his balls on the line and release the thing. Since then, he’s collaborated with Trent Reznor and, wait for it, released nothing. In fact, pretty much the only thing I remember him releasing since the absolutely awful ‘Renegades’ is ‘Centre of the Storm’. This was released so long ago, I remember downloading it from Audio Galaxy whilst on dial-up.
Edit: Since beginning to write this, I listened to ‘Saul Williams’ for the first time in ages and realise he’s on there, albeit somewhat fleetingly.

Anyway, the fact remains that despite working with the best in the business for the past eight years, Zack de la Rocha hasn’t believed enough in his own material to release anything of note whatsoever. It’s not like there hasn’t been anything to write about from a typically de la Rocha point of view. Dubya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Burma, Audioslave, the continued existence of Mark Ronson all spring to mind, and yet not a word from Mr. De la Rocha’s mouth. Why?

Could it be that de la Rocha, and in particular ‘rage Against the Machine’ just aren’t relevant anymore? Think about it. Rage sprang to prominence around the time when music made a difference. Christ, even Bob Geldof made a difference. People cared, and people bought into what was being offered. That, unfortunately, just isn’t the case anymore. The world we live in has got to be so big. A hell of a lot bigger than it was when ‘Rage Against the Machine’ was released. The perception that one person or one group of people can make a change died with the perception Saddam Hussein wasn’t such a bad guy after all.

Now, I’m not proclaiming Rage as a world changing act. They weren’t. But, their political message was, at least, able to influence a whole generation of music lovers. I suppose this has led me to my real point.

When Rage Against the Machine take to the stage at Reading and Leeds, what will we see? Four men reeling off old crowd favourites ala Chesney Hawkes in some seedy student bar, or will we see four men, eager to command an audience with their angst and energy the way they once did. Personally, I hope it’s the latter, but you can’t help but think it will be the former.

Secretly, even I want the comeback gigs to be a massive success. I want to believe that Rage will release an album filled with relevant, profound messages and I want them to conquer the world again. But that won’t happen. The band themselves have made it clear that they have no plans to record new material (quelle surprise!) and will live out their remaining existence as a travelling circus act playing the good old tunes for old fans.

When this happens, Rage Against the Machine will have become the very thing they built a career fighting against. It’s inevitable that bands will reform. The very nature of the Sex Drugs and Rock and Roll lifestyle lends itself to eventual bankruptcy. You expect come backs from the likes of Motley Cru, Metallica (I know they never split, I just wish they would), and Megadeth. My flatmate has gone to see Megadeth’s last gig in England more times than I care to remember. I doubt Rage need the money in the same way that Dave Mustane needs it, but they run the risk of bankruptcy on a much higher scale: moral bankruptcy.