Take one microphone-stand-waving frontman with a history of strange behavior and add three politically driven and extremely talented musicians and you get a band that produces up front and passionate hard rock music with enough punch and heart to blow the roof of sold out venues across the United States.
But who could have expected anything less when Chris Cornell – the heart and soul of Soundgarden – collaborates with the remaining members of Rage Against The Machine to form Audioslave?
Dubbed rock’s first super group of the new millennium, Audioslave sold out the Electric Factory in a record time of seven-minutes for their first Philadelphia stop on their debut tour.
Rather than load up the bill with three supporting bands, Audioslave tapped Burning Brides, as the only supporting band for the tour.
Known for their energetic garage rock sound with harsh and intense runge/Nirvana influences, the Philly-based Burning Brides lived up to the hype and played a potently strong 11-song set that pulled from their debut Fall of the Plastic Empire.
Songs like “Leave No Ashes,” “Arctic Snow” and “Heart Full of Black” warmed up the crowd for Audioslave, who took the stage around 10 p.m. and played for well over an hour.
The crowd itself was ready for a night of heavy music.
An interesting mix of newcomers, younger Rage fans, elder Soundgarden fans and old timers who call Audioslave a throwback to the days of Led Zeppelin.
Moments after taking the stage for their opening number, “Set It Off,” frontman, Chris Cornell broke his first microphone stand of the night.
By the end of the night he would have over 10 broken microphone stands piled up to the side of the stage.
The slow and funky, “Light My Way” was the second song pulled from the band’s debut; while the thumping and aggressive “Gasoline” led the way for their latest single, the passionate and rhythmic building “Like A Stone.”
During the middle of the set, the band showed their diversity of interests and styles by breaking away from their album material to cover Funkadelic’s “Super Stupid” and Rush’s “Working Man.”
The fast-paced dance track “Hypnotize” came across great live; while the transitional “What You Are” and vocally strong “The Last Remaining Light” showed just how musically capable all four members are as individuals and as a band.
Audioslave’s sound was solid.
Cornell showed just how intensely he could work a crowd. Bassist, Tim Commerford looked like a linebacker as he jumped around the stage thumping away on his bass.
And guitarist Tom Morello, showed how much of a methodical madman he is at manipulating the guitar to produce the crazy sounds that only he can.
The most pleasing event of the night came during the encore when Cornell returned to the stage by himself with an acoustic guitar to play “I Am The Highway,” a ballad reminiscent of “Stairway to Heaven.”
Cornell, who decided not to play the guitar with the band, started into the song acoustic and was joined by the rest of the band three minutes into the song.
The transition couldn’t have been any better as Cornell kept playing acoustic while the rest of the band jammed away at what was the band’s best tune of the night.
Audioslave will return to the area this summer on the Lollapalooza tour with Jane’s Addiction, Queens of the Stone Age and Incubus.
Chris Powell can be reached at TUJournalist@hotmail.com