Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium documents the last two shows from Rage Against the Machine, recorded in September 2000 for a planned November release, but canceled when the band broke up, and postponed for the second time one year later after three-fourths of the band formed Audioslave with Chris Cornell. The finished product isn't a very good look at one of the finest metal bands of the '90s, not because the performance quality is lacking but because of mixing problems and the simple problems inherent in transferring the energy of a live concert to record. Featuring highlights from the two shows, recorded September 12th and 13th, this delayed version of Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium also downplays the cover material that comprised the band's last studio album, Renegades, which is a good thing for the fans who agree that Rage performed better with originals than covers. Early on, the band storms through three of its career highlights -- "Killing in the Name," "Bulls on Parade," and "Bullet in the Head" -- with intense performances that capture its combination of heavy metal strut and punk rock disdain. Something is lacking here, though. Zack de la Rocha's vocals are too high in the mix, and the band sounds powerful but surprisingly muddy. Tom Morello's ragged guitar work and siren effects occasionally cut through the fog, but the songs here add little to what fans know of the studio albums. The two covers, cut down from five, add little to the concert; Rage's version of the EPMD classic "I'm Housin'" is a misguided attempt at injecting melodramatic tension into an original that was eerie precisely because the vocal was so nonchalant, and MC5's "Kick Out the Jams" is butchered by de la Rocha, whose attempts to sing the song are flubbed badly.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush