The Warfield lived up to its name down in the GA area last night, as the ’90’s moshers, solo career supporters, and those dangling somewhere in between battled it out for the best view of Chris Cornell last night.
Let’s put aside all of the flack first: the murmurs of how quickly Audioslave fell apart once RATM reunited for a handful of shows, the lukewarm critical acclaim that both of Cornell’s solo efforts have mustered, and the recent interview
response that we all might be sitting in the handicapped section by the time we’ll get to see a Soundgarden reunion. We’re all in it for the voice- the voice that cuts through the loudest of metal guitars and straight into your musical soul.
Cornell has been a part of two major things in the past year that have marked him for success: he’s one of few to be picked to create an original song for the intro of a Bond film. And, he just came off a huge performance in Hamburg for Live Earth. It’s also worth mentioning that Audioslave was the first American rock band to play in Cuba.
Upon arrival, my camera was immediately confiscated. I was told, “it’s not us, blame Chris”. At least I didn’t get taken out mid show this time.
Taking our usual spot to the left of the stage, we waited while people continued to pack in between the set change. It looked sold out. As the crowd started to get tired of waiting, the band came on.
The show started with a bang, putting at bay my fears that this tour was going to be all about promoting this new album, Carry On. Wrong wrong wrong. From the moment Cornell walked on stage in his ‘Love Kills Boy’ t-shirt, he owned the stage. Here’s a rough setlist which I lifted from the Chris Cornell official website forum:
Let Me Drown/Soundgarden
Show Me How To Live/Audioslave
No Such Thing/Solo
Say Hello To Heaven/Temple of the Dog
What You Are/Audioslave
Safe And Sound/Solo
Billie Jean (acoustic)/Solo
Like A Stone (acoustic)/Audioslave
Doesn’t Remind Me (acoustic)/Audioslave
Can’t Change Me/Solo
She’ll Never Be Your Man/Solo
Jesus Christ Pose/Soundgarden
Burden In My Hand/Soundgarden
Black Hole Sun/Soundgarden
A few words about the band: they should feel really lucky that they are performing with someone of Cornell’s caliber. While I felt like they did a good job musically, they just felt unpolished, especially when the back up singing happened. Perhaps Cornell’s solo efforts would have more success if the band were a bit stronger. His voice, however, has never been better.
As soon as the set kicked off into Soungarden nostalgia, I made some interesting observations. First–the too tall guy sort of in front of me snapped and tried to start a mosh circle, which wasn’t down with the “I just sauntered over here from a day at the All Star Game” yuppies who pushed in front of me minutes before the start and lit up their special occasion weed. Surprisingly, the usually on it security guys let this go on for quite a long time- about 5 songs. Wanna know why? This is the first show I’ve been to in a long time where the security guys were actually turned around jamming out to the music. I could have taken a camera full of pictures while the guy who dragged me out last time stood there with his back to the crowd and jammed out with his lady.
And there were a surprising amount of Soundgarden era Cornell look-a-likes in the audience. Long-haired walking depictions of Jesus, all of them.
The crowd couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be rough or not- which was partially fueled by the variances in the set list. I believe it was during Rusty Cage where Cornell gave the signal, the stir up, that really got it going and some people got knocked down. And it was the ’90s for about 10 seconds all over again. Until the security guards went back to their jobs and took some people out. I went from barely could see, to almost full view thanks to the moshers scaring people off, to full view once the security took the rough guys out, and thanks to a guy with long, hippie fro’ed hair that was headbanging and simultaneously mopping up the space around him.
Cornell somehow really inspires people to throw things on stage: 2 joints, a lighter, several notes and signs pleading for certain songs. Someone even had his name programed into one of those things that you swing round and the name is spelled out in red LED letters. Clever.
Song highlights: starting out with Let Me Drown, instead of Spoonman like I was expecting (I peeked at other set lists), Say Hello to Heaven is always a tearjerker, Cornell misspoke when he accidentally skipped ahead in the setlist, singing Happy Birthday to one of their roadies, the Billie Jean acoustic version, which was much better than the album version, and Jesus Christ Pose.
It makes me really excited to go to a show that is full of so many varied people who are really passionate about the performer. I loved it when I saw, so many times, a song start and someone turn around to the person they were with and express their excitement. And, even better, the crowd goes crazy for not only an encore, but sticks around hoping for a second one.
Cheers to that.