Out Of Exile (warm up tour)
Interscope Records
Roseland Theater, Portland, OR
Friday, May 13, 2005

Reactions were mixed when the three remaining members of LA’s politically charged Rage Against The Machine joined Soundgarden crooner Chris Cornell in a throwback to ‘70s-style stadium rock. Both fan camps felt somewhat betrayed as they watched their heroes succumb to mainstream radio – albeit with remarkable success. With the release of their sophomore outing Out Of Exile only days away, Audioslave continue their flirtatious relationship with the airwaves as they string together a handful of heavily promoted radio shows from Seattle to San Diego. The last of which is for KROQ’s historic Weenie Roast.

Fitting comfortably into their legendary skin, Audioslave took to the stage at Portland, Oregon’s Roseland Ballroom in front of an eager crowd. Announcing they were warming up for several European festivals, it was obvious they were trying out some of the new material in a live setting. Packed to the rafters this night were long-time Cornell’s worshipers with the ladies out numbering the men. One must remember that during their infancy, Soundgarden went up and down I-5 building their grass roots following among the college set from Tacoma and Olympia, WA through Portland, Salem and Eugene OR. Tonight saw them come out in mass for a sold-out show.

As the stage lights went blue, Cornell burst onto the stage donned in his now standard snug white “wife-beater” muscle shirt and baggy army fatigues. Black-laced boots completed the ensemble and under the lights he stood as a stoic grunge god. Following in the shadow was acclaimed guitar-wiz Tom Morello, and tribal-tattooed bassist Tim Commerford. Drummer Brad Wilk, though seemingly dwarfed by this massive drum kit, wasted no time building the pace. “Set If Off” and “Exploder” absolutely erupted with audience and band in complete synch. “Your Time Has Come” the first of the new tracks from Out Of Exile introduced a refined blend of heavy metal riffs, thundering rhythms and Cornell’s Sammy Hagar-like scream.

The set list pulled heavily from the band’s 2002 Interscope debut. The stoned out “Gasoline” and the melodically entrancing “Shadow On The Sun” lost no luster in the past eight months while the band were holed up in the studio with producer Rick Rubin. Morello in particular looked like a beast uncaged bouncing in time with Commerford’s bass and often leaping into his trademark crouch. His effect pedals were relatively streamlined making it all the more mesmerizing to watch him create his bizarre guitar sounds. Cornell announced midset it was time to revisit some classics and with that stormed through Soundgarden’s “Spoonman” and a rough and ready “Outshined.”

The crowning moment was the inclusion of Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls On Parade” and it’s segue into “Sleep Now In The Fire” which saw a sea of Rasta curls bouncing in perfect unison. More of the new disc was explored in current single “Out of Exile” and ballad-esque “Be Yourself,” but it was the plodding “The Worm” that showcased a more earthy presence in the band. Characteristic of Rubin’s work with Johnny Cash, “The Worm” reeks of minimalistic charm.

The encore was more like an intermission with 30-minutes left before the wall of amps would stop humming. Acoustic guitar in hand, Cornell alone returned and stood under the center spot where he began strumming the chord sequence to “Black Hole Sun.” Barely had he reached the chorus when the audience filled in the rest. The same thing happened with “I Am A Highway” and “Like A Stone” which saw the band return in full force.

The monster riff in “Show Me How To Live” whipped up the froth again bringing the humidity level to an all time high. Morello’s funky metal kicked open “Killing In The Name” sending an already manic crowd into a carnal frenzy. A testament to how the song has aged was in the potent electricity within the hall. There were times the building felt it would literally give way under the musical weight. Audioslave’s first hit “Cochise” closed the show. The bonafide FM pile-driver a-la Zeppelin could barely be heard above the strained vocals of the house. When the lights went on, the true nature of the experience showed as drenched bodies collapsed to the floor.

Setlist (in approximate order)

Set It Off
Your Time Has Come (new)
Doesn’t Remind Me (new)
Spoonman (Soundgarden)
Shadow of the Sun
Outshined (Soundgarden)
The Worm (new)
Out of Exile (new)
Bulls On Parade/Sleep Now In The Fire (Rage Against The Machine)
Be Yourself (new)

Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden)
I Am The Highway
Like A Stone
Show Me How To Live
Killing In The Name (Rage Against The Machine)

Interscope Records, Audioslave