Sunday, April 19, 2009


There is something new in the world of rock and roll, created by an old favorite from the 90's. I'm talking about rocker Chris Cornell and his new album Scream, produced by hip hop master, Timberland.

It certainly is a departure from the sound of Cornell's bands, Soundgarden and Audioslave. Long time fans seem to have rather mixed reviews about the new album. Many seem to love the new sound, and others seem to think he "sold out", giving into the powers of the record label industry. I myself think the new album is rather brilliant. I bought a ticket months ago to Cornell's Cleveland House of Blues show. It was going to be my 3rd show (counting one Audioslave concert and one solo gig). From nearly 2 decades of his music, Audioslave produced several songs that will forever stand the test of time in my opinion. I really liked his last solo album, Carry On, but I never seemed to connect to it for some reason. My friend Jamie was truly the hard core Cornell fan, always anxious to catch a show. When the Scream tour was announced, I was certainly excited to go, but it wasn't reaching the top of my must see shows. I knew a new album was coming out, and truthfully that worried me. With only a month between the release and the show, I didn't think I would have enough time to ever get acquainted with the music, let alone have it resonate with me. But after getting a code for a free download of the entire album for purchasing a concert ticket, all of that changed.

I was a little confused when I first started playing the music. It wasn't anything even close to what I was expecting. The electronic sounds started pumping through my iMac speakers and until I heard the deep vocals of Chris Cornell, I wasn't sure what was playing. It was so different and I was instantly drawn to it. My first reaction was that it sounded more like Kanye West and reminiscent of Justin Timberlake. Quickly I started hearing the Timbaland influence and looked up the album to confirm the collaboration. I'm really not a huge fan of hip hop, but there are certainly many songs that are especially enjoyable for a night of dancing that rock and roll just can't offer. Scream just makes you want to get up and dance, have a great time, and step away from the darker and depressing sounds of rock and roll. I started listening to this album, over and over for days at work and in the car. Suddenly, the concert couldn't come soon enough.

Last Monday I left work early to make the 2 1/2 hour drive up to Cleveland in the pouring down rain. Our plan was to grab a quick dinner at the House of Blues and then be granted early entrance for the show. The bartender said the line had already formed so she boxed up our dinner to eat in line. By the time we got our food, there were already a few dozen fans waiting in the crusty back entrance. An hour later we entered the theater, and were able to find a place about 4 rows back from the stage. The crowd quickly filled in, making for a rather uncomfortable space, with people bumping, shoving and pushing, and it was still hours until Chris Cornell would even take the stage. Jamie and I started talking to several people around us, getting into long discussions about our favorite show, LOST, or having debates on who was the bigger Cornell, Pearl Jam, or Gavin Rossdale fan. Long live the 90's grunge bands. The Outernational opened the show. They were pretty good, and I need to remember to look them up on myspace. Then finally the erie electronic voice started to introduce Chris Cornell the way it does on Scream. I think a lot of people were afraid that the new sound would dominate the show. In a way I was hoping it would. I expected to hear several favorite Soundgarden and Audioslave songs as well. The night rocked on until the next day began. 31 songs graced the set list, giving a full range of music from the past and present. Classics such as Hunger Strike from Cornell & Eddie Vedder's Temple of the Dog, acoustic sets of Like a Stone, Fell on Black Days, and Doesn't Remind me. One of my favorite songs from Scream, Never Far Away, had me screaming at the top of my head. And the 90's anthem from my high school years, Black Hole Sun, closed out the show and ended with a bizarre elevator music style outro set to Black Hole Sun. The only song missing was my personal all time favorite song, Be Yourself, which is the song that wakes me up every single morning on my Blackberry.

The crowd was feeling every single song. Packed like sardines, we were a little weary of a few random drunk guys wanting to start a mosh pit. Fortunately most of the people surrounding us were cool enough to prevent the crazies from pushing everyone. We became protective of our space and nobody would allow newcomers to weasel their way in front. There was one obnoxious guy who kept pushing my foot around trying to find a pic thrown into the crowd. He's lucky I didn't break his finger with my heel which was in severe pain from the 6 hours spent standing. He found a pic only to somehow lose it a few minutes later and continue to bitch about it for an hour. Why he spent more time whining about the pic rather than watching the show, I do not understand. I already had a pic from the last show, so it seemed pointless to me to waste my time looking for one on the ground. A few rows up in front, 3 young boys around 10 years old caught Cornell's attention and one of them scored his black leather jacket which he tossed into the crowd. He was very interactive with the crowd, even accepting a request from a girl in front of us who wrote Loud Love on a piece of paper and passed it up on stage. And at some point he invited another girl up on stage to sing Happy Birthday to her friend. I managed to get a few decent pictures, but not too many since the lighting was low and the crowd was pushy. During the encore break, Jamie and I decided to leave our spots up front to make our way to the back. The feeling was completely different, and I'm glad we endured the noisy crowded group up front because it's not the same to rock out with the mellow fans in the back. And like Cornell mentioned during the show, you just have to stand up and kick it at a rock concert. Then just like Cinderella at the ball, the clock struck midnight and it was time for us to scurry back to our carriage which meant another hour standing and waiting for the Valet to retrieve the car.

SET LIST (Cleveland, OH 4.13.09):
Part of Me
No Such Thing
You Know My Name
Burden In My Hand
Pretty Noose
Hunger Strike
Preaching The End of the World
Loud Love (By Request)
Show Me How to Live
Ground Zero
Never Far Away
Billy Jean
What You Are
Rusty Cage
Heavens Dead

I Am the Highway
Can't Change Me
Seasons (with entire band)
Fell on Black Days
Like A Stone
Doesn't Remind Me

Cochise (with strobe lights)
Watch Out
Let Me Drown
Spoonman -Good Times Bad Times- Spoonman

The Day I Tried to Live
Black Hole Sun

With only 2 hours of sleep, a large Redbull, and my iPod playing Scream, I powered my way through another day designing accessories. It took several days to recover from the fatigue, but it was worth every minute. I hope everyone gets the chance to listen to this album. The last I checked, it was still available on iTune's for $7.99. The album is also designed to listen to as a whole. Each song has an intro and outro that flows into each other. Certain songs are a little choppy at the beginning or end if listening out of order. This is my only negative comment regarding the album because I often like to make playlists to mix it up.

Fans of Chris Cornell should also follow him on Twitter. He has been making dozens of tweets each day, reminding you that he is just a normal guy taking photos of himself in the mirror or stuck at the airport trying to find a cup of coffee.


My Concert Count: 151
Rating: 5 Stars


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