Labor Day 2011 has come and gone, but the spirit still reverberates in Madison, where Tom ‘the Nightwatchman’ Morello tore it up in Madison’s Labor Day celebration at the Barrymore Theatre yesterday. From Andy Downing’s report at Madison.com:
Appearing here in his solo guise as The Nightwatchman, Morello, still best known for his work as lead guitarist for Rage Against the Machine, spent a bulk of his 70-minute set leading a rousing demonstration that felt informed by the same sense of purpose as this year’s Capitol Square protests. At times, the events even shared a soundtrack. Such was the case when the guitarist gave an encore performance of “Union Song,” a tune he first played in town this past February during a rally on the steps of the Capitol.
Elsewhere, Morello delivered solemn acoustic ballads (a hushed “The Garden of Gethsemane”), rousing foot stompers (“Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine”) and throwback numbers both by Woody Guthrie (“This Land Is Your Land,” introduced here as “America’s alternative national anthem”) and clearly reminiscent of his work (“Union Town”).
In his profile of Morello, The Nation’s John Nichols notes that Morello would be welcomed to Madison this time by Fire Fighters Local 311 Bagpipers, who have been leading mass marches in that city, playing their “ancient instrument of popular insurrection.”
Mere reportage can’t really do justice to the Morello experience, which usually includes a fierce pro-worker rally speech (clip of earlier Wisconsin rally speech here), along with guitar rifts channeling the spirit of Jimi Hendrix in top form. No YouTubes of the Barrymore event are posted as yet, but here’s Morello’s ‘Union Town’ video featuring scenes from Madison, where he has visited to boost the cause on other occasions:
Morello’s visit was part of the ‘Justice Tour’ he is leading in battleground states under attack from wingnut anti-labor politicians. “They’re raising money for nonprofit media (via The Nation Institute) that expose corporate abuse and highlights union struggles,” reports Nichols. “But most of all, they’re celebrating the rise of a new pro-labor, pro-democracy movement that marches to the sound of guitars–and bagpipes.”
Now if we can bottle a little of that spirit for the next election…