Tom Morello at the Vic Theatre in Chicago, IL

Tom Morello electrifies the hometown crowd at Chicago’s Vic Theatre, accompanied the three-piece from Camden Town, Bones UK.

What a way to start the night?! Bones UK, hailing from London, England, certainly knew how to kick off proceedings. While there were some in the crowd donning their Bones UK apparel, it’s pretty fair to say they grabbed the attention of those who turned up in time for the early start. The fact that Jeff Beck asked them to co-write his 2016 album, Loud Hailer, and took them out on tour with him, just two years after the band had formed, gives you the idea of how special these girls are.

During their opening set, Rosie Bones reminisced about a guy who came up to them after a show and said they were great but would never be as good as his band because girls can’t play guitar. He obviously hadn’t been watching their set! There’s no lacking of guitar skills in this band, not when you have Carmen Vandenberg who was in town a few years back, joining in the birthday celebrations for Buddy Guy. Not just anyone gets asked up on to that stage!

The lights dipped down and the large screen at the back of the stage came to life with a “Communique from The Atlas Underground.” As the video came to an end, and the Vic was plunged into darkness, Tom Morello emerged in the middle of the crowd, lit by a single spotlight, with his fist in the air. That was the moment of calm before he unleashed a sound that is truly unique to him. If ever there’s a guitarist that could play to a room full of blind-folded people, and every one of them be able to immediately identify who it was, it’s Tom Morello. He has cultivated his own unique and innovative style. 

There was some discussion amongst the crowd as to this show would work since The Atlas Underground included a variety of guest vocalists, and Morello doesn’t take a singer on tour with him. The moment the music started, their questions were answered as the recorded voices of various singers played out across the PA system, with Morello providing the live guitar, along with multi-instrumentalist and additional vocals from Carl Restivo, and drums provided by Eric Gardner.

Throughout the night, the large screen at the back of the stage changed between political statements and hypnotic graphics. Videos would play to accompany the songs, including one for “How Long” which featured Tim McIlrath.

It may not have been the longest of shows, but there were a number of stand-out moments. “Union Song” received cheers from the crowd, as Morello voiced his support for the striking Chicago teachers. The crowd couldn’t help but sing along to Audioslave’s “Like A Stone,” while Chris Cornell’s voice rang out across the theatre.

Throughout the night, Morello had the audience in the palm of his hand, inciting clapping and cheers on command. The most impressive use of this power had to be when he asked for pin-drop silence as he dedicated the emotional “The Garden of Gethsemane” to Cornell as he played the uncharacteristic acoustic guitar.

The pièce de résistance of the even came in the form of Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name Of,” which saw as many members of the audience as was physically possible, and then some, join him on stage as they sang and jumped along to the classic hit. 

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About Kirstine Walton 298 Articles
Kirstine moved from the UK to Chicago in 2011, and has fallen in love with the city and its music scene. She enjoys combining her two biggest passions – music and photography. If there is a band with a guitar playing, chances are she’ll be there…camera in hand. Kirstine went to her first live concert at 7 years old, and hasn’t looked back since!

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