18 June 2012 (gig)
19 June 2012
You'd think that after Chris Cornell headlined Download festival with Soundarden in front of thousands of people alongside Black Sabbath this summer, that a solo acoustic tour might be something of an after thought. Something to do whilst he's in the country because he can sell tickets. Cynical, I know, but this is the music business after all; you need to make your money whilst you can. Well if you thought that, then let me correct you.
It was obvious from the moment he stepped onto the stage that Cornell has a passionate and loyal fan following as the place erupts before he's even picked up his guitar. The smile on his face and the opening bit of banter and interaction with the crowd shows you he's happy to be here and he is humbled to have so much support.
The man who fronted 90s grunge pioneers Soundgarden and later rock super group Audioslave showed where he really shines and where he really belongs. One man, one guitar and one voice. One hell of a voice at that! I would have to say his voice live, in that setting, sounded better than any time I've seen him live before, any videos of live performances on YouTube or dare I say on any of the records he has released over the years. The soul and power of his voice reverberates throughout the grand London Palladium as he hits his trademark high notes on songs such as 'Hunger Strike' and 'Burden In My Hand'.
Not only was the voice there, but so was the performance. He really seemed comfortable with the spotlight on him and interacted with the crowd to make us feel part of the show. It wasn't rock star Chris Cornell gracing us with his presence, it was Chris Cornell performing to his fans and even taking requests as he went along.
The set list took us all the way from Soundgarden, to Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, even to The Beatles and of course his solo material (yes even tracks from the Timbaland produced album Scream!). Some songs were obviously suited to this environment as the songs were originally written or performed on an acoustic guitar. Some songs at first seemed like they shouldn't work, such as 'Outshined' but to my surprise it just showcased how much of a bluesy track it is without the wall of sound that usually accompanies the vocals. Stand out track for me was 'Blow Up The Outside World' which built to a massive crescendo of looped guitar and wailing vocals that got everyone out of their seat to a standing ovation until he returned for an encore.
There was a lot of fans here tonight full of expectation, but even I didn't expect him to be that good. I was blown away and I highly recommend getting The Songbook album to get a taste of what it was like, as its unlikely he will do a tour like this again for a while.