And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead, in all their dual drum kit, post rock glory are much like a pile of bricks sat in an art gallery – crap. And the majority of a sweaty Brixton Academy realises this within the first of their seemingly never ending songs. It is therefore with a cheer of relief that the wistful melodies of Bob Marley drift across the auditorium during the set change, cooling the soaring temperature.
With music cut short, and without smoke or pyrotechnics, four heroes stroll out on stage, and without hesitation proceed to tear through two blinding tracks from their latest release Out Of Exile.
It’s with a sly grin that Chris Cornell utters his first words to the suitably agitated crowd as he attempts to fix his in-ear monitor: “Ah… Technology’s a wonderful thing… like air conditioning… have you guys heard of it? They have it in Italy!”
A murmur of laughter is soon drowned by the deafening applause of the more observant members of the audience who realise that guitar god Tom Morello has just begun playing the introduction to the Soundgarden classic Outshined. Gobsmacked, the punters soon realise this means one thing: if Audioslave are playing covers from their collective members’ glory days, we MUST be in for the treat of a Rage Against The Machine number.
Having waited till their second album to drop in the covers, Cornell and co are masters at building the anticipation, through Gasoline and new classic Your Time Has Come which sees Tim C getting all melodic on backing vocals.
Then the moment arrives. Cornell leaves the stage, and as Mr Morello begins to scratch his frets more furiously than a possessed turntablist, the brutal riff of Bulls On Parade kicks through the PA, clearly separating the middle-aged rock fans from the old school die-hard Rage faithful who’ve stuck with their heroes.
Bedlam ensues, even if the number is an instrumental, which Cornell quickly remedies with as a blistering rendition of Sleep Now In The Fire follows through.
The first encore set takes shape in the form of Cornell alone with an acoustic, with which he showcases a second Soundgarden cover in the form of Fall on Dark Days followed by a rusty rendition of Nick Lowe’s Peace Love and Honesty.
Next up is I Am The Highway. As the rest of the band join Cornell on stage to climax this epic number, Audioslave demonstrate how to age beautifully, with a sound and style influenced by the members’ previous outfits, but unique enough to stand tall and proud in their own right.
Latest single Be Yourself begins to fire things up just a touch before the inevitable, the highly anticipated, the so eagerly craved cover that has been swirling through every fan’s mind since the day three quarters of Rage Against The Machine hooked up with the Soundgarden frontman – the possibility of hearing the Rage’s biggest, most violently brutal tune in all its former glory.
No introduction for Killing In The Name Of would ever do it justice. With head bowed, throat burning with wrath and, most importantly, not trying to be Zack de La Rocha, Cornell guides the frenzied crowd through the very next best thing to having seen Rage in their heyday. Quickly slamming into their finale of Cochise, the quartet leave us breathless, dripping with sweat, and much anticipatation for just what they’ll do next.