LOWELL -- When Audioslave made its Boston debut at Avalon in 2003, the band played a tentative set that left one hungering for more. This was a supergroup composed of former Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell and three ex-members of Rage Against the Machine, yet it seemed as if they'd just met before the gig.
This week's Halloween show at the Tsongas Arena was another matter entirely. Audioslave has jelled, and the sold-out crowd of 7,000 gave the band so many ovations that you finally felt that a true supergroup was in the house.
A compromise has been reached among band members. At Avalon, the band members snubbed the repertoires of their previous groups. Now they've seen the light and are not just doing Audioslave songs, but also tunes from Soundgarden and Rage, making for a better-rounded, more engaging show. Cornell reprised Soundgarden hits ''Spoonman" and ''Black Hole Sun" (the latter gleamed as a solo acoustic encore), while the Rage faction (guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk) exploded through ''Bulls on Parade" (which started as an instrumental before Cornell joined them), ''Sleep Now in the Fire," and the angry protest number ''Killing in the Name."
Cornell initially didn't want to do protest material, but he has come around. In fact, the show opened with a recent Audioslave tune, ''Your Time Has Come," which bemoans the 50,000-plus Americans who died in Vietnam. Musically he was more comfortable as well, singing booming refrains that sent the crowd into manic mosh mode, especially on ''Set It Off" and ''Doesn't Remind Me." Those also prompted Morello to fire off squealing electronics as only he can.
South Africa's Seether scored with well-played neo-grunge reminiscent of Staind. Opener 30 Seconds to Mars added a decent, screamo-laced set.