When the lights went down at the Rose Bowl before U2’s performance Saturday night, it wasn’t for the band: It was so the speakers could blast Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” in tribute to Chris Cornell — and tens of thousands of U2 fans could sing along.
Later in the show, Bono called the late singer of Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and Audioslave a “lion,” and “beautiful, sweet soul.” He extended U2’s love to his “lioness” — Cornell’s widow Vicky — and their children. And then the band went into “Running to Stand Still,” their delicate, crushing ballad about the torrents of addiction.
It was one of the most devastating moments of a very emotional show. Fans held up their cell phones — in the old days of U2 they still used lighters — and sang along quietly with the lines: “You got to cry without weeping / Talk without speaking…”
And then, as if everyone remembered Cornell the lion’s roar at the same time, the crowd’s volume rose with the next line: “Scream without raising your voice…”
Cornell hanged himself in a Detroit hotel room after a Soundgarden concert. He was a recovering addict, and his family questioned whether his use of Ativan, a prescription anxiety drug sometimes employed to fight addiction, might have contributed to his death.
U2’s new tour marks the 30th anniversary of the band’s album “The Joshua Tree.” The tour began May 12 in Vancouver and continued to Cornell’s hometown, Seattle, where on May 14 U2 were joined onstage by Eddie Vedder, the Pearl Jam singer and Cornell’s bandmate in Temple of the Dog.
That band was formed to honor Cornell’s former roommate, Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood, who died of a heroin overdose on in 1990.
Cornell died on May 18.