all words: Katie Glanz
all photos: Kevin Carroll
Chris Cornell, former front-man of Soundgarden and Audioslave, is hands down, one of rock’s greatest vocalists. It is common knowledge among rock fans and critics alike, that Soundgarden was the most talented and complicated band to emerge on the Seattle grunge-rock scene in the early 90’s. The emotion and musicianship apparent in Cornell’s work remains impressive to this day, far outlasting the appeal of short-lived trends of the 90’s grunge scene.
Cornell’s range is ridiculous, his voice haunting, and his skills as a lyricist unrivaled. He is the kind of musician who is perfectly equipped to give an unforgettable un-plugged performance, and unsurprisingly, his talents were showcased beautifully in Sunday night’s one-man acoustic set.
Cornell’s set included a very satisfying and lengthy assortment of songs from his extensive career as a vocalist and songwriter for Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog, as well as songs and covers from his solo work.
The night felt intimate, and had an air of mutual respect which typifies concerts given by singer-songwriters with far-reaching successful careers and extremely devoted fan-bases. Several times throughout the show Cornell remarked that he was pleased to hear surprising requests from the audience, for lesser-known songs like “Seasons,” “Get Away Car,” and “Sunshower.”
While he did play a number of B-side tracks and songs from his less-than-well-received solo album Scream, Cornell didn’t disappoint the traditionalists. I personally, was thrilled to hear the opening chords of “Fell on Black Days,” and “Like a Stone,” Cornell’s iconic and darkly sensual voice belting out both melodies in a bone-chilling display of artistry and passion.
Cornell played to an entranced audience, and made the evening all his own in a (self-admitted) display of justifiable self-indulgent virtuosity. Even the cover songs he included in his set (“Thank You,” “Ticket to Ride,” “Billie Jean,” and “Imagine”) sounded as if they had been effortlessly bent to his brooding creative will. Cornell’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper” was epic, and it included a mesmerizing Hendrix-style feedback tangent.
It was hard to single out just one moment as a highlight from this unforgettable concert, but I would definitely choose Cornell’s version of “Black Hole Sun.”
I will admit that I have been wanting to hear “Black Hole Sun” performed live since the minute I heard it on the radio as a teenager… so I might be a bit biased, but Cornell crooned this cathartic anthem viscerally and remarkably, in a manner perfectly fitting the song that gave voice to so many unsatisfied and empty suburban kids in the early 90’s. He started “Black Hole Sun,” just two songs into his encore, and I really wish he had ended with it.
Personally, I think this Soundgarden track is the most characteristic and appropriate display of Cornell’s talents as a lyricist, vocalist, and grunge-rock front-man, and I intend to remember this song as the final song of the night. I was impressed with the diversity of song selections, and I won’t soon forget any part of Cornell’s performance. The entire evening was a completely impressive showcase of Chris Cornell’s successful and distinctive career.
“Scar on the Sky”-Carry On
“Ground Zero” –Scream
“Can’t Change Me” – Euphoria Morning
“Two Drink Minimum” – Scream
“Call me a Dog” – Carry On
“Sunshower” – Great Expectations Soundtrack
“Fell on Black Days”- Superunknown (Soundgarden)
“Burden in my Hand” – Down on the Upside (Soundgarden)
“I Am the Highway” –Audioslave (Audioslave)
“State Trooper” (Bruce Springsteen Cover)
“When I’m Down” –Euphoria Morning
“Preaching the End of the World” –Euphoria Morning
“Seasons” -Singles Soundtrack
“Get Away Car”- Audioslave (Audioslave)
“Thank You” (Led Zeppelin Cover) –Carry On
“No Such Thing” -Carry On
“Say Hello 2 Heaven”-Temple of the Dog (Temple of the Dog)
“Like Suicide” –Superunknown (Soundgarden)
“Like a Stone” – Audioslave (Audioslave)
“Doesn’t Remind Me”- Out of Exile (Audioslave)
“Ticket to Ride” (Beatles Cover)
“Wide Awake” – Revelations (Audioslave)
“Billie Jean” – (Michael Jackson Cover) Carry On
“Hunger Strike” – Temple of the Dog (Temple of the Dog)
“Black Hole Sun” – Superunknown (Soundgarden)
“Imagine” – (John Lennon Cover)