Saturday, April 21, 2007

Saturday Music Special: Chris Cornell Live

This past Thursday I had the good fortune of seeing one of my favorite singers live. Chris Cornell, who you either remember from Soundgarden or know from Audioslave, played at Avalon (a 1,000 person venue on Landsdowne Street in Boston), and he rocked the damn house.

Cornell came out swinging with "Spoonman", and continued to run through a veritable "best of" from Soundgarden's heyday. He mixed in an Audioslave track here and there, most people cheered like crazy. Even more did so when the unexpected Temple of The Dog guitar lines began to ring.

Cornell's voice, probably the best in recent rock history, is deceptive. He mis-stepped on "Hunger Strike", going flat on the raucous chorus' high note. His folly was redeemed when we all realized that he just hadn't warmed up before the show - and all of a sudden the clouds parted, the waves crashed in, and Cornell called out to "Say Hello To Heaven". On pitch. On his game. He still has it, folks.

About midway through the show, the band (whose talents, while great, can't compare to Kim Thayil's guitar, or even Tom Morello's) left the stage. Cornell, bathed by a single spotlight, picked up an acoustic guitar and told us that "this is where the trouble usually starts". He played through a number of songs off his first solo record, "Euphoria Morning" - all the while reminding us that his first show as just "Chris Cornell" was here in Boston, and that he loved these small shows, because these were for the "real fuckin' fans". The crowd cheered.

As Cornell broke into another Audioslave number, the band filed back in and proceeded to rock. I think Cornell told us that one of the guitar players (the one on his right) was named "Ducky". Ducky channeled the aforementioned Kim Thayil as best he could on "Pretty Noose", and drew praise from us in the crowd.

As he closed out his second and final encore, Cornell roused us with "Slaves & Bulldozers", a track that enticed my companion and I to high-five and exclaim that this track was for the true fans - a statement that drew scowls from the Meat Loaf lookalike that had wedged his rotund self between us. He didn't know the words. As Cornell left the stage, fist pumped straight up at the sky, he cried out, "See you next time!".

"He played it all." The guy behind me exclaimed as we filed out at the end of the night. And right he was.

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