Bill Cummings 04/06/2005
The lights dim at around 9.30. Audioslave bound onto the stage at Cardiff's International air craft hanger (I mean Arena). Audioslave least we forget are Chris Cornell (ex of Soundgarden) and a rhythm section made up of former members of Rage Against the Machine. So you would think this would be a night of blood sweat and rock (or should that be RAWK?). Kicking off with “Your Time Has Come” Audioslave rip through tracks from their last two albums with bounce and power, and Cornell's voice is indeed impressive at times at close quarters - the audience seems to be well into the sound they are making.
Audioslave have problems though: for me, musically, too much of their newer material much of it from recent album "Out of Exile" resembles the kind of Stadium rock bluster that resonated throughout much of the 90's. For example, mid paced rockers like “Like A Stone” wash over me, whilst limp new single “Be yourself” is reminiscent of U2 light and the poorer aspects of the Pearl Jam back catalogue.
Chris Cornell is a good watch though, years of touring have served him well he knows his stage craft, gesturing and engaging with the crowd throughout the night. At one point he tells everyone the tale of the time that A band he used to play with, Soundgarden (huge cheer) had played on the Lollapolooza bill with a band called Rage Against the Machine (deafening roar!) “We were on the same bill as a band called Rage Against The Machine. They played first, unfortunately. We got our asses kicked that time!” Chris then left the stage and the rest of Audioslave kicked into "Bulls on Parade". The crowd cheers. When Cornell returns another slew of mildly interesting rawk tracks follow then a “Goodnight!” from the band. Unlike the Audioslave throng, I'm kind of left rather bemused and under whelmed by much of the first half of this show.
Chris Cornell's solo acoustic encore section was warmly received, he played Soundgarden Classics like “Black Hole Sun” and "Call Me A Dog" from the "Temple of the Dog" Album and its a deep dark, passionate ballad (that he did as a tribute to Andy Wood of the long gone Seattle group Mother Love Bone). This was one of the best periods of the gig. Closely followed by the fantastic blast of power that is Killing in the Name of this is clearly the highlight of the night and the crowd really immerse themselves in the propulsive bass and stinging guitars and the anthem of “Fuck you! I won't do what you tell me!” reverberates around the venue. It's still a great song even after all these years, but I'm afraid the irony of watching it delivered by a Supergroup in a Stadium isn't lost on me - after all a song about anti conformity is hardly in its correct setting amongst heavy handed stewards, corporate labels like Coca Cola on sale at the bar, or the expensive t-shirts that are racked up as you enter the venue. Lastly comes a long souped up ten minute version of probably the best Audioslave song “Cochise” all driving rhythms and bass, twisting funky guitar lines are topped off by a cracking shouted lines of “Go and Save yourself/And take it out on me”.
With that they are gone. They might be able to produce an enjoyable enough show but do Audioslave have a future? I'm not sure. They don't blow me away, but they offer the diehards a taste of some of the best Melodic alternative rock from the 90's so they go away happy. Whether their new material will really last as the best moments of Soundgarden or Rage have, I somehow doubt.