yesterday i did two things that i’ve not done in a long time. one was revisiting wolverhampton, a city in the northwest tip of birmingham. the civic hall was a medium-sized venue for many bands whenever they come to play the west midlands. another was to see a band made up of 75% of rage against the machine (whom i saw in newcastle way back in ’93) and the lead singer of the now defunct soundgarden (one of the two seattle bands i regretted not to watch in my student days – no prizes for guessing which other seattle band that is!).

i arrived a little late. managed to catch the last two songs of the opening band, …and you will know us by the trail of dead, which was absolutely shite. don’t get me wrong. i listen to heavy music a lot, and yesterday was absolutely rubbish. no apologies offered to any AYWKUBTTOD fans reading this. also, whilst waiting for the usual rigmarole that was stripping down the opening act’s equipment and the final soundcheck of the headliner, i just wonder if the front of house engineer of some gigs just love to take the piss. they had frickin’ bob marley on. i don’t mind the odd ragga, but for fcuk’s sake not before effin’ audioslave. jay-zuss (to paraphrase the neon)!! the last time i had the pleasure to see this kind of disparity was at a megadeth gig at the rock city in nottingham and at U2 where they had “milkshake” kelis as an opening act. please. not again.

lights down. crowd erupted. the opening scales to your time has come made the crowd go apeshit. this time, the familiar cochise-oid riff is forgiven. damn, man. chris cornell’s singing is simply sublime. he doesn’t scream. he sings high notes loud for the next one and a half hours. he does have a larynx of the gods. and if any of you starts going, “oh, but chester bennington can sing sooo much better”, you will be hearing from me.

tom morello had his soul power strat slung up high and was performing his fret and stompbox gymnastics, together with his leaps and occasionally stepping up on the monitors with his fist in the air. just superb.

no apologies offered again if i can’t remember the setlist in the exact sequence. i don’t carry notepads at gigs. hehe.

cornell was seen to be bonding pretty well with the crowd (apparently, he was more subdued in his soundgarden days).

“well, we’re gonna do a song that some of you may have heard of. most of you were probably belted up in the child seat at the back when this came out.”

and they played spoonman. geez! i could see people in the over-29 demographic going mental. i’ve not banged my head for donkey’s years. had to do the alternative shuffle (go watch the simpson’s episode where they had the smashing pumpkins as guests at homerpalooza, and you will understand) too. haha. morello had his les paul out for this one.

gasoline was another absolute bomb. that middle repetitive guitar lick, man. with brad wilk’s drumming in the back. “i have found another waaaAAAAAAAYYYYYYY….” . then heads bobbed/banged. that is the only way i can describe the exhilirating feeling i had. cornell then left the stage briefly.

wowwow. wakka wowwow. wakka wakka wakka.

the remaining three being the original RATM members did the middle bit of bulls on parade. zack, wherever you are, we had to sing your parts, man. why oh why did you leave the band, dagnammit. and morello was toggling the pickup switch whilst his left hand slided up and down the fretboard (lmsn, you bastard, how the hell you learnt that trick!!!). and yes, he played his ‘arm the homeless’ ibanez hybrid. the same guitar i saw 12 years ago.

Sleep now in the fire.

cornell then joined them back onstage and did an audioslave rendition of sleep now in the fire. timmy C’s basslines just made my shoulder do the judderman. it was strange to see cornell ‘rap’ (he kinda ‘talks’, if you know what i mean). he did well, if i should say so myself. my voice was hoarse after that number.

like a stone. the whammy pedal-ladened solo was played with just the fretting hand (lmsn, pegi prektis, kiasu man you). ’nuff said.

one of the evening’s highlight was in the second half of the performance. cornell came onstage with his acoustic guitar. i thought to myself, “thank god he’s not going to do a solo rendition of like a stone like the CD…”. yup, he didn’t. he played black hole sun. i could have just cried. trembling with joy. and if that wasn’t enough, he played call me a dog. before that he had to tune the guitar back to standard tuning. “sorry about this. it’s really difficult to get this tuned perfect. just pretend you’re watching the telly or somethin’”, he joked. to any of you budak-budak yang baru start dengar nirvana post-cobain’s death, this is a song from the temple of the dog (1991 pearl jam + cornell post-mother love bone outfit). cornell’s voice was so soulful. i was almost in tears when he got to the chorus where he sang:

“…but when it’s my time to throw the next stone
i’ll call you beautiful
if i call at all.”

i would gladly pee in my pants there and then. please note the operative word: would.

cornell then started off with i am the highway. the rest of the band joined in soon after, at the second chorus. timmy did the backing vocals on most of the tracks sung tonight. for the first time, i could make out the lower harmonies for highway, only to forget it like 1 hour later when i was in the car. dang. the stage was lit up like stars. beautiful. the second set had a few more songs from exile (which i hadn’t had a chance to really revise – sekali/dua kali harung on the motorway mana cukup, bro’).

further rocking ensued with show me how to live. more toggling on the soul power here, and not forgetting that ring modulation that followed soon after. i just love it when you get to see how they produce the seemingly impossible in front of your very eyes. and do you wanna know how cornell got to do that thing with his voice, at the coda of the song, live? he does mild karate chops to his throat for that desired effect. gila. #1 zero saw morello shredding on his soul power (he shredded in some of his RATM songs anyway). we were like, whoa. this man is no one-trick pony. and i think they played man or animal. i think. hehe.

cornell was thanking the audience for showing their support and paid respects to the fans that believed in their music. i do hope they will still go on. having a sophomore effort reaffirms the possibility that this amalgamation ain’t just for show to make a quick buck. here’s to hoping. cornell then made fun of the people seated at the balcony section. “stand the fuck UP!!!”. he didn’t just asked them to do that for no reason.

power chords, followed by that bassline. and the cowbells.

killing in the name was the pinnacle of the evening’s performance. even the old(er) fogeys rocked. cornell pulled it off quite well. the angst that was zack de la rocha wasn’t there (when i saw RATM, the people in the moshpit had bleeding noses), but we didn’t care a bit. morello abusing his maple-necked tele for the solo wasn’t a tiring sight to behold.

“fuck you! i won’t do what you tell me!”

and the crowd obliged with the “muthafucka!” reply with much aplomb. great or what.

the palm-muted helicopter riff followed suit. cochise was just ace. cornell wasn’t as garang as lmsn. great song but it didn’t match the intensity of killing. then again they need to finish with an audioslave song, i suppose. hahaha. they really know how to wrap a rocking show.

hands down, the best gig i’ve been to this year (sorry, clapton and friends).

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resolutions made, post-audioslave gig:

1. body macam cornell

2. increase lower limb strength to leap like morello

3. get a sunburst jazz bass with black pickguards (i heard they alter the tone. hahahaha) and a maple fingerboard

the first two is achievable, on top of the incentive of eyeing up the three new female personal trainers, at the gym. the third one? well. i need to learn the skills of bank robbery first.