Audioslave: Live In Cuba

Audioslave: Live In Cuba (2005)
Sony Music
Cast: The members of Audioslave including; Chris Cornell, Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk, Tom Morello
Extras: Documentary

Audioslave, the perfect melding of former Soundgarden front-man Chris Cornell with Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk and Tom Morello, or the former members of Rage Against The Machine–sans-Zach de la Rocha. Bringing together all of these individual musical talents into one band makes for one awesome and strikingly original sound, which is pretty hard to accomplish in a time when there are so many bands that just look and sound too much alike.

On May 6th, 2005, Audioslave became the first and only American rock band to ever play in Cuba, performing a live concert at the Anti-Imperialist Plaza in Havana. Insisting that their show would be of no-charge to anyone who wanted to see them perform live, brought out well over 60,000 adoring Cuban fans and the concert that would go on to become one truly special event with a monumental impact on the history of rock performances in Cuba.

With Audioslave omitting the strong political undertones that former lead singer Zack de la Rocha brought to the former Rage Against the Machine band, this concert DVD is a totally refreshing experience. True there will always be messages or stories delivered through lyrics of a song, either political or not, but previous concerts featuring de la Rocha became almost distractive as documentary-style footage of poverty stricken third world countries would be edited throughout the live concert footage. It's fine to present your fans with personal views, but for those of us that just enjoyed the raw musical performances, it always came off as a little excessive. I did however appreciate the talent that de la Rocha added to the often bizarre guitar squeals of Tom Morello and his unique sound was rather hard for Chris Cornell to replicate, which is evident during a performance of the classic tune "Sleep Now in the Fire". But then again, Audioslave is a completely new band with a solid sound that really can't be compared to the average rock band just swapping lead singers, their sound is truly unique and you really feel the personal bond they share that comes out through their powerful performance on-stage. I only wish that the full 2 ½ hour concert would have made its way onto this DVD, rather than the shorter 69 minute version.

Sony Music Video presents "Audioslave: Live in Cuba" in a fantastic anamorphic widescreen transfer that captures every detail of the production, thanks in part to rich deep black levels. Color saturation is truly spectacular, providing vivid reproductions of the blues, reds, greens and purples of stage lighting, while consistently maintaining naturally appearing flesh tones throughout.

The one unfortunate part of this concert presentation is the sound option being only available as a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. Don't get me wrong, the soundtrack is masterfully reproduced throughout and offers up a great balance and presentation overall. I just felt that the concert would have really shone on this DVD had a Dolby Digital or dts 5.1 mix been available. When you are used to hearing a concert presented in multi-channel audio, with vocals localized in the center channel, the main music flowing through the left and right and a good enveloping ambience from the crowd coming through the rear channels, it takes a bit of getting used to hearing all of those sounds served by just the left and right speakers. I still highly recommend this concert as it definitely delivers in the sound and visual department, I would only hope that Audioslave's next concert DVD outing sports a full 5.1 sound mix that will really allow their live performance to demonstrate its full potential.

"Audioslave: Live in Cuba" also contains a great documentary titled "Out of Exile" that features footage of the band members venturing in and around Havana, combined with personal interviews, offers fans a nice intimate look behind-the-scenes of a truly awesome band. There is also a special edition of this DVD available that comes packaged with a bonus CD.

Weather you are an admirer of the former Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden or just plain love a good live rock performance, be sure to check out "Audioslave: Live in Cuba" as this performance is sure to please a wide variety of rock and roll listeners, both young and old.