Last Wednesday, former Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell reconfirmed his rock god status, performing songs spanning his 20-year-long career in what was a hardcore fan’s dream concert. For two hours, the singer dug deep into his expansive song list, trotting out numbers from nearly all his recordings, such as “Like Suicide” off of Soundgarden’s Superunknown, “Set it Off” from Audioslave, “Wave Goodbye” and “You Know My Name” from his solo albums Euphoria Morning and Carry On, respectively, and the rarely performed “Wooden Jesus,” from his Temple of the Dog days.
The lithe, fit Cornell, dressed simply in a fitted brown T-shirt and olive green pants, had the packed house mesmerized as he sauntered back and forth across the stage, belting out one great song after another, chatting with the audience, and at one point declaring he has “the best fans in the world.”
Halfway in, Cornell’s five-piece backing band exited the stage and made way for the singer to play stripped-down versions of “Black Hole Sun” (to which the delighted audience sang the chorus at Cornell’s beckoning), “Fell On Black Days,” and “Getaway Car.” Considering he has a new album, Scream (produced by recording industry phenom Timbaland), in post-production, it was surprising that Cornell only included three new songs in his set list.
Although one could tell Cornell’s voice was in pristine form (his stellar vocal ability was all the more remarkable considering that just two nights prior he had cancelled his Arizona shows due to acute laryngitis) the muddy sound mix made it difficult to hear many of the nuances. Cornell is one of the best singers around, and it was disappointing not to be able to enjoy fully his voice as he hit higher register notes, then easily descended the scale only to go right back up into a melodic, gravely scream.
Despite the subpar acoustics, Cornell delivered an amazing evening of hard rockin’ tunes that left the audience stoked and thankful that this man is still in the game.