The Justice League
Stewart Copeland, Slash, Flea, Pete Yorn, Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Travis Barker, Steve Vai, Cypress Hill and more come out for Tom Morello at The Troubadour
Tom Morello’s Hotel Café jam sessions have been kick-yourself-for-missing-them spectacles boasting off-the-wall superstar musical line-ups (Flea, Alanis Morissette, Ben Harper, Mick Mars), but for the kickoff of his seven city “Justice Tour” last night at the Troubadour, he set out to outdo them all, and he did.
From left, Perry Farrell, Steve Vai (back), Slash, Flea and Stewart Copeland
The assemblage of characters who took the stage for the Rage Against the Machine/Nightwatchmen guitarist ’s LA date, brought to mind that weird sleep aid commercial with Abe Lincoln, the beaver, and the astronaut. This was one of those bizarre and amazing groupings that only happens in the trippiest of (music fan) dreams.
An organic, at times chaotic royal rock rumble, the show got warmed up with Morello and his band The Freedom Fighters covering two Police songs with Stewart Copeland on the skins, and progressed with an acoustic set from Pete Yorn, a spaced-out guitar attack from Steve Vai, and a poetic performance by The MC5's Wayne Kramer.
Then the really mad intermixing of musicians commenced. Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro and Perry Farrell offered a meta-version of “Mountain Song” accompanied by Flea on bass and Travis Barker on drums, followed by Slash, Yorn and Vai taking the stage with them for a roaring version of “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Then Morello and Copeland got on stage with Slash and Flea for a funked-out version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious.” Vai and Kramer joined the sonic orgy soon after, at which point there was literally over a dozen people on stage, and shockingly not that much ego.
Still, Morello made sure everybody got solos and shout-outs (including Boston newbies State Radio and his own backing band- the only non-famous fellas of the bunch). He also made sure to remind the crowd that they only paid $10 for the historic gig a couple of times (“If you think this was worth more, we’ve got some girls collecting money at the door”). The evening’s cause was PATH homeless shelter in Downtown, and the tour will focus on different local charities at each city stop.
Just when we thought things couldn’t get any more capricious, a hot-pink jacketed Davey Havok (AFI) joined the craziness for an unexpected string of covers that included Adam Ant’s “Ant Music,” Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” and the number Morello said he was most excited about doing ( “the most downloaded song on the internet right now”), Madonna and Justin Timberlake’s “4 Minutes,” complete with Havok rapping the Timbaland part. Maybe not the tightest portion of the show, but it was captivating none the less.
Things get kinda blurry after that thanks to Cypress Hill. Rapper B-Real was puffing a fatty on stage and though he declined the crowd’s pleads to pass it along, the pungent cloud around him ended up floating our way near the side of the stage, enhancing the surrealness of the show. We do remember thinking that the Hill's ode to excess, “Rock Super Star” was both fitting and inappropriate at the same. The guys on stage definitely live the “big house, fine cars”-filled life, but the homeless people the gathering was benefiting? Not so much. Props to Morello for getting the privileged power playas to give back.
Look for more pics, plus tidbits from the scene backstage and from our conversation with State Radio, Slash and Morello in NEXT WEEK’s Nightranger.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Los Angeles, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.