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Reunited Rage Against The Machine Closes Coachella

Rage Against The Machine played its first show in seven years last night (April 29) to close the 2007 edition of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif. The foursome tore into staples like “Testify,” “Bulls on Parade,” “People of the Sun” and “Guerrilla Radio” to one of the largest main stage crowds in the event’s history.

Guitarist Tom Morello was in particularly blazing form on “Know Your Enemy,” and the band grooved in lockstep throughout, as if no time had passed since it was last active. Rage has thus far only scheduled four other shows in late July and mid-August as part of the Rock the Bells festival in New York, San Bernardino, Calif., and San Francisco.

The third and final day of Coachella also featured a reunion set from Australian rock outfit Crowded House, its first major gig in a decade. Frontman Neil Finn led the band through loose but lively versions of “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (during which he was plunked by a water bottle) “Locked Out” and “Something So Strong.” In the Sahara tent, the Happy Mondays turned the clock back to the heyday of rave culture via songs like “Hallelujah” and “24 Hour Party People,” but were without percussionist Bez, who was unable to perform due to immigration issues.

Earlier in the day, the Roots offered a melange of R&B covers (“Jungle Boogie,” “Egyptian Lover”) as well as an extended take on Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” set to the melody of “The Star Spangled Banner.” The group went a bit skimpy on its own material but delighted the crowd with a performance of “The Seed” from the 2002 album “Phrenology.”

On the eve of his 74th birthday, Willie Nelson made his Coachella debut with a laid-back late afternoon performance featuring “Whiskey River,” “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” and “Good Hearted Woman.” The set concluded with a pair of humorous new songs (one of which described Nelson’s recuperation from carpal tunnel surgery: “too many pain pills / too much pot / I tried to be something I’m not”) and a sing-a-long version of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” Unfortunately, the Outdoor Theatre ran into yet another major timing issue as Air’s set was delayed for 30 minutes due to sound problems (the Good, the Bad & the Queen were just as late the night before). The group was limited to eight songs that traded the delicate aesthetic of its studio recordings for stripped-down simplicity. Highlights included “Remember,” “People in the City” and a pumped-up version of the new “Mer Du Japon.”

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