Hard Rock Live, Orlando, Fl • November 4, 2007
First there was Soundgarden, briefly there was Temple of the Dog, then came a solo career and finally – thanks to the breakup of Rage Against the Machine – there was Audioslave.
These days Chris Cornell is on his own once again, and what better way to purge the demons of prior bands, with hit songs the crowds keep screaming for, than to go out on tour and play a little bit from all of those past projects?
The Chris Cornell ticket was a pretty lukewarm one, and upon entering the Hard Rock Live I was pretty taken aback at the sheer emptiness inside. Birds could be heard chirping in the corners… or they could have been heard had even they come out for the night. By the time openers Earl Greyhound went on, there were at least a couple hundred of us on the floor in front of the stage.
EG are a New York City threepiece that are straight up ’70s classic rock with a heavy helping of soul on the side. Co-vocalists Matt Whyte and Kamara Thomas couldn’t look or sound more opposite, and it’s exactly this dichotomy that sets this band apart from some of the other ’70s revivalists I’ve set out to see of late. Whyte sings in a Robert Plant/Jack White register, and lays heavy into his guitar work, while Thomas has got a cool and steady lowness to her voice that’s drips with depth as much as her bass parts do.
This band has got a big sound, big ideas, and a great hold on an image that immediately grabs, but they haven’t got the songs that instantly grab you. At least not from what I heard in their 25 minute set. I loved them, but I could hardly tell one song from the next. The mini guitar solos and drum cuts took the songs into areas that my headbanging couldn’t quite follow. I couldn’t always find the rhythm. It was like listening to a great collection of songs, but not hearing the single, the one song that would follow you home after.
With the room having tightened up substantially (though still far from sold-out), Cornell stepped out alongside his band and immediately plowed into a pair of Soundgarden songs: “Let Me Drown” and – my personal favorite – “Outshined.” The fact that I was never a Soundgarden fan and yet still found myself smiling from ear to ear at these tunes should be some indication of the performance power of Cornell and his grab-you and hold-you voice.
I was, however, a fan of Audioslave (though, admittedly, I leaned toward the Rage Against the Machine faction of the band) and so when the next song was “Show Me How To Live,” I was completely sold on a tour that I was afraid might come off as a bit too nostalgic. The following two and a half hours was anything but nostalgic, it was a celebration of 20 years worth of songwriting, and the audience was absolutely in love with it.
Halfway through the night, the band left and the man of the hour gave a solo acoustic set. Once that quiet was out of his system, the band returned and the climactic blowout was ON! They had saved a pack of the big songs for the latter half of the evening, “Hungerstrike” included.
I’m still not sold on his solo work, when compared to the songs his bands made famous, but I am sold on Cornell as an artist. He knows how to keep an audience captivated.
To see more photos of this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com