Morello, Tankian and Harper Deliver Weighty SXSW Sets for “Body of War” - Rolling Stone
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Morello, Tankian and Harper Deliver Weighty SXSW Sets for “Body of War”

Serj Tankian asked the audience to “imagine an upside down world,” while Tom Morello traded in his Rage for melody at Stubb’s Thursday evening for an event celebrating the release of the documentary Body of War and its two-disc soundtrack. The film’s subject, Tomas Young — his spine severed by a bullet during his first week in Iraq — sat sidestage in his wheelchair, chain smoking cigarettes during a rapid-fire set that also featured heartfelt songs from Ben Harper, a brilliant Billy Bragg set as well as performances from RX Bandits and Brendan James. Before the show, Young’s muscle-bound, tattooed Iraq Veterans Against the War buddies (sporting matching IVAW T-shirts) mingled backstage with Morello, who announced “The Nightwatchman needs his whiskey.” Tankian delivered piano-based versions of songs from his solo debut, including “Elect the Dead” and “Sky Is Over,” while Morello performed an acoustic version of “Guerilla Radio” (“Hopefully this will be sung in the streets when George W. Bush and his cronies are brought before a war crimes tribunal,” he proclaimed), along with songs from One Man Revolution. His “Battle Hymns,” during which he asked the audience to tell anyone around them making noise to “shut the fuck up,” was a highlight, as was a duet on Harper’s “Gather ‘Round the Stone.” The whole lineup came back out for a rollicking take on “This Land Is Your Land,” and as Morello introduced Kimya Dawson to close the show, he left the audience with a simple edict: “Never give up and never give in. Take it easy, but don’t take it.”

For photos live from SXSW 2008 in Austin, TX, click here.

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