Chris Cornell’s solo acoustic trek across Australia is a musical biography of his entire career, with just a voice, an acoustic guitar (and occasional cello).
Chris Cornell is Ed Sheeran for grown-ups. While he may be twice Sheeran’s age, this show may just well be Ed’s teen fans will be witnessing 25 years from now.
Cornell was introduced to Australian fans as one of the father’s of grunge when the first of the Soundgarden releases surfaced around 1988. Seattle’s Soundgarden pre-dated Pearl Jam by a couple of years but the paths crossed in the 1990 side-project Temple of the Dog, featuring Cornell on vocals with Eddie Vedder and the members of Pearl Jam as the band. Australian’s should smoke out the album. It went unnoticed here. However, it is a big part of the Chris Cornell story and was represented with three tracks during the Melbourne show.
Soundgarden launched in a massive way via the grunge wave of the early 90s and were one of the world’s most powerful and aggressive bands. You need to see one of these acoustic Cornell shows to appreciate to beauty and complexity of the structure of a Soundgarden songs stripped back. ‘Black Hole Sun’, ‘Fell On Black Days’, ‘Blow Up The Outside World’ and ‘Rusty Cage’ become audio beauty.
The legendary Johnny Cash first performed ‘Rusty Cage’ in its raw stage. Cornell performed the Cash arrangement of his song stating that before Cash did it he didn’t even know how to do it in acoustic form.
Cornell is quite the storyteller. His words between songs are as captivating as his lyrics. He told a very funny story about playing a Blues Festival in Brazil that also featured blues legend John Mayall. Knowing of Mayall, but not knowing what he looked like, Chris said that he didn’t even recognise the icon when he came over to say hello. The story segued into a story about his acoustic covers on 2011’s songbook, something about “fucking up classics”, before he performed Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’.
Another story was about how he knows for sure that Queen Elizabeth II once heard one of his songs. Thank James Bond for that. Queen Lizzy of Buckinghuge Palace attended the premiere of ‘Casino Royale’. Cornell had performed the theme song for the movie ‘You Know My Name’. “I know the Queen has heard at least one of my songs,” he said part proudly, part tongue-in-cheek. Chris was amused that the Queen had to sit through one of the most violent ever Bond openings while his song was being played.
I should make special mention of Audioslave. In that time when Soundgarden had called it a day and before the reformation, Cornell fronted Rage Against The Machine’s Zack de la Rocha’s absent period under the guise of Audioslave. Audioslave released three albums in that time and Chris represented one from the self-title first, three from the second ‘Out of Exile’ and one from the final album ‘Revelations’.
Half a dozen songs from the new album ‘Higher Truth’ alerted fans to the fact he had new music. It was good to see Chris doing the PR job his record label did so badly for this release. Mind you, he is now 40+ which for a major label means he doesn’t really.
The Cornell covers were incredible. Led Zep’s ‘Thank You’ was in the set last time he played an acoustic show in Australia, he made Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ his own and The Beatles’ ‘A Day In The Life’, with cello once again from Bryan Gibson was worthy of an Opera House performance (and it will be next week in Sydney).
Chris Cornell, Melbourne, December 5, 2015
Before We Disappear (from Higher Truth, 2015)
Can’t Change Me (from Euphoria Mourning, 1999)
As Hope And Promise Fade (from Scream, 2009)
The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Bob Dylan cover)
Ground Zero (from Scream, 2009)
Nearly Forgot My Broken (from Higher Truth, 2015)
Fell Out Black Days (from Soundgarden, Superunknown, 1994)
Thank You (Led Zeppelin cover from Songbook, 2011)
Dandelion (from Audioslave, Out of Exile, 2005)
Doesn’t Remind Me (from Audioslave, Out of Exile, 2005)
Call Me A Dog (from Temple of the Dog, 1991)
Blow Up The Outside World (from Soundgarden, Down On The Upside, 1996)
Let Your Eyes Wander (from Higher Truth, 2015)
You Know My Name (from soundtrack, Casino Royale, 2006)
Nothing Compares 2 U (Prince cover)
Wide Awake (from Audioslave, Revelations, 2006)
Rusty Cage (from Soundgarden, Badmotorfinger, 1991)
Seasons (from soundtrack, Singles, 1992)
Misery Chain (from Higher Truth, 2015)
I Am The Highway (from Audioslave, Audioslave, 2002)
Hunger Strike (from Temple of the Dog, 1991)
Black Hole Sun (from Soundgarden, Superunknown, 1994)
Worried Moon (from Higher Truth, 2015)
Wooden Jesus (from Temple of the Dog, 1991)
A Day In The Life (The Beatles cover)
Scream (from Scream, 2009)
Josephine (from Higher Truth, 2015)
Be Yourself (from Audioslave, Out of Exile, 2005)
Higher Truth (from Higher Truth, 2015)
Chris Cornell is touring Australia for Live Nation.
Chris Cornell remaining dates
December 5, Melbourne, Palais Theatre
December 7, Adelaide, Adelaide Festival Centre
December 8 and 9, Perth. Concert Hall
December 11, 12 and 13, Sydney, Opera House
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