Ah…big city living. How I have missed you so. During my 14 months in Lansing, I only saw one concert (Annie Lennox), and I had to drive to Detroit to see that one. Now that I’ve been back less than 3 weeks, I’ve already got a show under my belt, with at least 2 more coming up in the next 2 weeks. If nothing else, this should give me something to write about.
Last night’s show was one that I wouldn’t have necessarily paid to see, but I’m glad it worked out to see it. Chris Cornell, formerly of Soundgarden and Audioslave, has a new CD coming out that was fully produced by Timbaland and J-Roc. Entitled “Scream”, the record’s release date is now up in the air, but looks like January. It’s being billed as something undefinable, but let’s be honest. It’s definitely Timbaland, whether there’s a screaming guitar or a lush line of synths involved. I kept an open mind, and went into the show with no preconceived notions of what to expect. Good thing I did…
The show started out late. Like almost 10 PM late. Now, it was originally scheduled to go on at 9, but still, this wasn’t at a club, this was at a formal concert theater, so I wasn’t prepared for the nightclub attitude. DJ Freestyle Steve, personal DJ for Timbaland, worked the crowd, and he was a great hype man. Everyone was caught up in the vibe, and I didn’t see anyone that wasn’t into it. Good way to start off the night.
From there, it gets a bit uneven. Tim’s band came out and got set up, and then Timbaland emerged. This setting really seemed to work well with him. The Ogden only holds a couple thousand folks, and the show was sold out, so it really had a high energy with a bit of an intimate vibe.
The set consisted of the expected tracks from “Shock Value”, along with tracks with other artists and a few album cuts I wouldn’t have expected. “Oh Timbaland”, “Promiscuous”, “Bounce”, “Apologize”, “Release”, “Throw It On Me”, “Sexyback”, “The Way I Are”…he covered all of the expected bases, but it was a bit awkward at times. Since he utilizes other artists for all of the singing (and a good chunk of the rapping), there were times that he was standing there, grooving while the backing track with the vocals was playing. However, when he was engaged, he was REALLY engaged. The way he took “Release”, and broke it down instrument by instrument was really cool, and showed a bit of his production skill. That helped make up for his excessive talking in between tracks, which got a bit annoying after a while.
In a little bit of a Timbaland exclusive, he announced “Shock Value, Vol. 2” will release on February 14th. As a sampler, they played “Talk That Sh*t”, which the Interwebs say T-Pain is on, but man, it sure sounded like Lil Wayne on that track.
So we’re pushing up on 11, and the set ends, and the crew takes a half hour to change things over, so it’s LATE. Maybe I’m old, but my back was killing me from standing for almost 3 hours at that point. There was no way I was leaving my first concert back in Denver early, so I just hung in there, and Chris finally made it out around 11:20. Had I done research, I would have known that he was going to play the album from start to finish, but I didn’t, which I’m glad for. Sonically, this is definitely a project to hear live. I’ve gone and listened to some of the tracks that have been released as singles on iTunes, and they pale a bit to the live experience.
As a whole, I enjoyed it. There were a few things that bothered me a bit, but I don’t think they are major. Chris appears to have picked up Tim’s habit of grunting and saying “yeah” at the beginning of tracks. He did that on at least three tracks that I remember. Since I haven’t heard the CD with a track listing in front of me, and the track listing hasn’t been released yet, I can’t fully ID all of the songs, but I will say that some of this DOES sound a bit innovative, but much of it sounds like “Shock Value”. “Scream” might as well be the sequel to “Apologize”, but something like “Part of Me” has potential. Chris seemed to get lost in the mix at times last night, but when he was at full energy, he was awesome. “Watch Out” live had a futuristic Offspring sound to it, while the closing “Two Drink Minimum” even got a bit bluesy and sultry.
All in all, a fun show, even with the little nuisances included. Impressively, the crowd was very much into both sets, which helped. I feared that they would lose some enthusiasm after Timbaland finished, but that didn’t happen. If nothing else, I will be checking out the final version of “Scream” when it is finally released.