The Red Alert
The Red Alert

Chris Cornell

Avalon - May 2, 2007

Live Review by Adam McKibbin


Rage Against The Machine were the toast of the desert at this year’s Coachella, an event that saw ¾ of Audioslave reunite with Zach de la Rocha. But the leftover piece of the Audioslave puzzle didn’t sail softly into the night. Instead, Chris Cornell hit Hollywood a few nights later to showcase some new songs from his upcoming album Carry On, as well as - and here’s the “Holy shit” part - select songs from his back catalog with Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, and Audioslave.


Looking lean and not-so-mean (he seemed genuinely pleased to be on stage), Cornell ripped through Soundgarden hits like “Spoonman,” “Outshined” and “Black Hole Sun,” dusted off rarer nuggets like “Say Hello 2 Heaven” and his solo song “Seasons” (from the Singles soundtrack), and even took requests, such as the somewhat overlooked “Zero Chance” from Soundgarden’s Down on the Upside.


Many bands would dream of packing a room like the Avalon, but it’s a modest size for someone used to arenas, and Cornell, correspondingly, seemed so relaxed on stage that it was almost like being in the studio with him, aside from a few requisite “everybody clap your hands” bits. Relaxation, however, does not equate to laziness, a feat all the more impressive considering how long some of these tunes have been kicking around. Cornell didn’t autopilot anything, though, not even his more recent radio hits with Audioslave; indeed, “Like a Stone” and “Cochise” came across (somewhat surprisingly) sounding downright vital, and provoked some of the biggest audience reaction of the evening.


One of the more enjoyable bonuses of the evening was watching some of the 30ish concertgoers maintaining a stationary pose throughout most of the evening and then surrendering to fist pumps and head bangs what that song hit, whether it was “Rusty Cage” or “Hunger Strike” or whichever song most reminded them of old flames or hard breakups or lost summers of beer parties. Little will change with that sort of personal connection, but what is becoming increasingly difficult to translate is that shared experience of everyone playing the absolute shit out of an album like Badmotorfinger because finding something better would have taken some serious research (not to mention cash). And the records would be played until every track - even the ones you didn’t like that much - were permanently seared into your subconscious, and most of your friends probably listened to the same thing. Maybe Win Butler will play a solo show in 2022 and there will be a similar sense of shared history. I somehow don’t think so.


But Cornell wasn’t just serving up nostalgia; his new songs tap into a more barroom rock sort of sound, a classic sort of twist with big hooks and, as the staple, some of the best vocals that the grunge generation produced. The guy can still wail - and he looks like he’s having fun doing it.



Audioslave - Out of Exile


More by this writer:

Neurosis - Given to the Rising

Dinosaur Jr - Beyond

!!! {Chk Chk Chk} - Myth Takes

Peace Takes Courage - Interview