Rebound relationships are never easy, but Thursday night's dynamic sold-out show by Audioslave proved that with enough patience and work, they can ultimately be rewarding.
If the band, combining three-quarters of the departed Rage Against the Machine with former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, initially struggled to find common ground, its members managed to achieve it by taking a fond look back at their collective legacies.
With a new album, ''Out of Exile," set for release May 24 and a new willingness to explore their previous accomplishments, the musicians of Audioslave were in fine spirits as they launched into the set-opening ''Set It Off." A largely testosterone-fueled crowd found reason to rejoice when guitarist Tom Morello fired off the first notes of an evening's worth of innovative and energetic splaying.
Morello's guitar work is undoubtedly among the finest of the alt-rock generation, but of equal importance is the rhythmic bounce of bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk. This element was particularly evident on the band's version of Soundgarden's ''Spoonman," played with a swing that was more stomping than plodding.
Cornell continues to be among rock's most comfortably confident frontmen; while Morello spastically explodes from within on each note, the singer rarely strains when reaching for even the highest notes in his register. This was the case on ''Gasoline," from the first Audioslave release, which was a well-paced successor to ''Spoonman."
The pacing throughout the set worked to the band's advantage. After introducing the new album's first single, ''Be Yourself," a slow-building burner, it rewarded the crowd with the Rage classic ''Bulls on Parade." Rather than try to re-create Zack de la Rocha's vocals, Cornell let the former Rage mates play it instrumentally before sliding back in as they segued to ''Sleep Now in the Fire."
During the encore, this favor was returned when Cornell emerged alone for a powerful version of Soundgarden's ''Black Hole Sun" on acoustic guitar. He began the Audioslave tune ''I Am the Highway" in similar fashion, evoking a rootsy feel before his bandmates emerged to energize the song.