Tom Morello kicked off his seven-city “Justice Tour” last night by calling every able-bodied rock legend in Los Angeles for a surreal night of music and social awareness at the Troubadour. “This is what happens when I go through my Blackberry,” Morello joked to the crowd before Stuart Copeland snuck behind the drums and Perry Farrell grabbed the mike for a thundering version of the Police’s “Message in a Bottle” just twenty minutes into the evening. It was the start of a marathon night that would showcase unforgettable collaborations by rock royalty for more than three and half hours.
The concert featured early acoustic performances by Morello, Pete Yorn, Jerry Cantrell and the MC5’s Wayne Kramer. Morello — acting as master of ceremonies and orchestrating the chaos — then brought out what would serve as the nucleus of the evening’s house band: Travis Barker on drums, Flea playing bass and a rotating lineup of Steve Vai, Slash, Dave Navarro and Morello sharing guitar duties. The dream team backed up Cantrell for a version of Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” and rocked out covers such as Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”
Throughout the evening Morello spoke about the tour’s goal of promoting local social activism and tackling problems endemic to each host city. While the activism is integral to the tour, Morello is quick to point out that the mood is celebratory and he views each night as “a freedom party.” Sen Dog and B-Real of Cypress Hill didn’t need any help celebrating as they arrived onstage (joint in hand) to knock out “Insane in the Brain” and “Rock Superstar.” Morello closed out the show with a poignant rendition of the Woody Guthrie classic “This Land is Your Land” (like he did at SXSW) that had every voice in the packed club singing backup.