Metallica, Foo Fighters, Miley Cyrus and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine headlined an all-star lineup honoring the late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell at a mammoth five-hour tribute concert in Los Angeles Wednesday.
Mixing rock n’ roll with elements of pop, punk and stripped-down acoustics, the sold-out event was a journey through Cornell’s decades-long career and a showcase for bands, friends and even family members of the grunge legend, who died in 2016.
Seattle area trailblazers Melvins kicked off the night with a blistering four-song set that included sludgy covers of Soundgarden’s “Spoonman,” Green River’s “Leech” and Malfunkshun’s “With Yo’ Heart, Not Yo’ Hands.”
Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters also paid homage to Soundgarden, bringing the Forum crowd to its feet with a rowdy rendition of “No Attention,” which was later followed by Grohl’s solo, somber version of Foo’s “Everlong.”
Grohl, one of the many Seattle mainstays to perform, later returned with lead vocals on Audioslave’s “Show Me How to Live.” Cornell’s former Audioslave bandmate Tom Morello was also joined by vocalists Perry Farrell (“Cochise”) and Juliette Lewis (“Be Yourself”), as well as Brandi Carlile, who got one of the night’s loudest ovations for “Like a Stone.”
Miley Cyrus performed two songs: Cornell’s “As Hope and Promise Fade” and Temple of the Dog favorite “Say Hello 2 Heaven.” Adam Levine, meanwhile, wowed the crowd with a haunting version of “Seasons” from the soundtrack to Cameron Crowe’s 1992 film “Singles.”
Miguel (“Reach Down”) and Chris Stapleton (“The Keeper,” “Hunger Strike”) also held their own with the grunge catalogue, while Ryan Adams shifted gears in one of the night’s most memorable performances: Strumming his trademark Harmony Buck Owens acoustic, he brought Cornell’s “Dead Wishes” and Soundgarden’s “Fell on Black Days” to hair-raising new heights with a backup string quartet.
Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme soloed Johnny Cash’s arrangement of “Rusty Cage,” as well as Black Sabbath’s “Hand of Doom.” Earlier in the evening, Rita Wilson, one of the committee hosts (along with husband Tom Hanks), delivered an emotional version of Cornell’s Grammy-nominated “The Promise,” from the 2016 Christian Bale-Oscar Isaac drama.
Metallica, after being introduced by the wildly bearded Jack Black, took the reins midway through the night with a few of the metal quartet’s staples, like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Master of Puppets.”
“The first couple albums were extra good,” frontman James Hetfield said of Soundgarden’s brasher earlier recordings like “Ultramega OK” and “Louder Than Love.” Metallica’s four-song set was bookended by takes on “All Your Lies” and “Head Injury” from the former.
Brad Pitt, taking the stage to a sea of “Brad Pitt!” gasps, introduced Cornell’s daughter Toni, who sang a heartbreaking rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” along with Marley’s son, Ziggy, who provided the acoustics. Other celebrities on hand included Rosanna Arquette, Josh Brolin, Courteney Cox and Kaley Cuoco.
Host Jimmy Kimmel also provided laughs (and yes, Matt Damon quips) throughout the evening as he begged forgiveness of the crowd for the epic bill’s speedbumps. The timing of a lineup such as this, with numerous stage turnovers and 42 songs to blast through, was never going to be perfect.
The event also featured several music video interludes and outtakes with Cornell, as well as a star-studded video package championing the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation, which helps vulnerable children. The Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation was also a focus as the tribute doubled as a benefit.
The proceedings came to a long but memorable conclusion as the remaining members of Soundgarden — Kim Thayil, Ben Shepherd and Matt Cameron — reunited to perform some of their classics. It was the first time they had performed together since Cornell passed. Around 12:30am, Peter Frampton and Brandi Carlile finally sent the crowd home with Soundgarden’s biggest hit, “Black Hole Sun.”
Other performers included Fiona Apple, Nikka Costa, Marcus Durant and Taylor Momsen, as well as Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard and Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell.
“With Your Heart Not Your Hands”
“Heart of Honey”
Nikka Costa and Alain Johannes
“Earache My Eye”
“Girl You Want”
Adam Levine, Jesse Carmichael, and Stone Gossard
“Two Drink Minimum”
Audioslave (Tom Morello and Brad Wilk)
“Cochise” (with Geezer Butler and Perry Farrell)
“Be Yourself” (with Geezer Butler and Juliette Lewis)
“Set It Off” (with Chris Chaney, Sam Harris and Tim Mcllrath)
“Like A Stone” (with Chris Chaney and Brandi Carlile)
“Show Me How To Live”(with Robert Trujillo and Dave Grohl)
Toni Cornell and Ziggy Marley
“All Your Lies”
“For Whom The Bell Tolls”
“Master of Puppets”
“Fell On Black Days”
Temple Of The Dog
“Preaching The End Of The World” (Nikka Costa, Alain Johannes, Stone Gossard, Brendan O’Brien, and Josh Taylor)
“Can’t Change Me” (Nikka Costa, Alain Johannes, Stone Gossard, Eric Avery, and Josh Freese)
“Hunted Down” (William DuVall, Jerry Cantrell, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Josh Freese)
“All Night Thing” (Fiona Apple, Brendan O’Brien, David Garza, Jeff Ament, and Matt Chamberlain)
“Reach Down” (Miguel, Nikka Costa, Stone Gossard, Brendan O’Brien, Jeff Ament, and Matt Cameron)
“Say Hello 2 Heaven” (Miley Cyrus, Brendan O’Brien, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Josh Freese)
“Hunger Strike” (Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Stone Gossard, Brendan O’Brien, Jeff Ament, and Matt Cameron)
Soundgarden (Kim Thayil, Ben Shepherd, and Matt Cameron)
“Rusty Cage” (with Taylor Momsen)
“Flower” (with Marcus Durant)
“Outshined” (with Marcus Durant and Stone Gossard)
“Drawing Flies” (with Taylor Momsen, Buzz Osbourne, Matt Demeritt, and Tracy Wanamae)
“Loud Love” (with Taylor Momsen, Tom Morello, and Wayne Kramer)
“I Awake” (with Taylor Hawkins and Buzz Osbourne)
“The Day I Tried To Live” (with Taylor Hawkins and Buzz Osbourne)
“Black Hole Sun” (with Brandi Carlile, Peter Frampton, Tim Hanseroth, and Phil Hanseroth)