Errols Weekly Music Update.

April 15, 2011

Concert Review: Chris Cornell at the Town Hall Theater in New York City on Wed. April 13, 2011

“Cornell Outshines in NYC”

Chris Cornell settled in to New York City for the second night in a row on his current acoustic solo tour and by the time he finished I would bet that everyone who was lucky enough to attend either night had thoughts of putting in a leave of absence at their place of employment just to follow him across the United States to witness each breathtaking performance. I don’t want to put any hex on the Soundgarden fans out there (for which I am included) but he looked so comfortable doing this kind of show that I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled a reverse Dylan and played only acoustically until further notice.

Chris has done the “band” thing with more than a few (Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog) but I get the feeling that he likes to do things himself. He was so comfortable up on stage it was like he invited about 1,500 of his friends over to his house and set up a few guitars across the living room floor and reminded everyone just what a sensational vocalist he is. Make no mistake, he has been and still is one of the preeminent, if not the best, male singers’ for some time now. To make it more like a house party, he had his very young daughter join him to help him sing a few songs as she sat in one of those kindergarten chairs that are like one foot off the ground. Chris put on an unbelievable display of raw emotion and passion as he performed a vast assortment of songs from his illustrious career as well as a few covers from some of his favorite artists. The best thing about this tour is that he is changing the set list on a nightly basis which is why I mentioned that many of us at the show were thinking of dropping everything and just follow him everywhere. Folks, I implore you to not miss this most intimate of performances so please log on to his web site to see when he is coming to your town or city.

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to see Chris Cornell again in concert. It had been 15 years since I last saw him when he played with Soundgarden at Randall’s Island in the Bronx, N.Y. I was devastated when they split up but followed his solo career when he released “Euphoria Cornell” and really enjoyed this album. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Audioslave but have more than enough songs from their catalog. Anyway just like Chris, I went solo and entered the Town Hall and figured I would buy something to drink and go to the seat. But no, you can’t enter the theater with a beverage- you would think they would have a sign or tell you before you purchase, nice trick. The opening artist, William Elliot Whitmore, was surprisingly good and he “had no illusions” because he knew that everyone was there to see Chris but it was his job to “prove himself” to the audience. And prove he did, what a voice and you get a sense that he is “old school” type of person who seemed very genuine. He was also very appreciative as he constantly thanked the audience for coming early. I don’t know for sure but I think he was hanging out in the vestibule before the show with a couple of friends. I will be checking out his albums real soon.

The crew for Chris’s stage show came out and set up a very simple and intimate setting as they laid out three acoustic guitars to the right of Chris and two more guitars to the left. There was a tall stool for Chris to perch upon and off to his right was his family and friends watching with same enthusiasm as the rest of us. As the clock struck just a little pass 9:00 p.m., Chris entered the stage as someone helps strap on a guitar over his shoulders as walks to the front of the stage to a very warm reception from the audience. There he is, Chris Cornell, right in front of us-this huge star but yet so unassuming looking like the rock star he truly is and tells the audience that while growing up he always searched for “obscure” songs and artists. He informs the audience of Syd Barrett, who was one of the founders of Pink Floyd, and explains that he wrote some great tunes before drugs basically took him out of the spotlight. Chris starts off with “Dark Globe” and right off the bat I was looking for any “kinks in the armor” but I could immediately tell that he still has “it.” The setting is just like “Story Tellers” and before the third song of the night Chris informs us of a friendship that he developed with someone basically over the phone. They fast became close friends and it turns out that the guy’s 10-year old daughter had brain cancer, so he sent Chris a poem that he had written from the stand point of his daughter. Chris turned it into a song-“I Promise It’s Not Goodbye”- which utilized those lyrics. Sadly Chris also stated that the gentleman also contracted the same cancer and passed on. It was only due to the fact that I was surrounded by two “dudes” that I did not shed a tear while he was singing. On the third song, I was lifted off the ground and felt the pain but yet happiness in the unbelievable lyrics to this gut wrenching narrative. He followed with “Can’t Change Me” from “Euphoria” and it brought back so many memories when I knew this album inside out. “She’s going to change the world…but she can’t change me.” Surprisingly there was very little chit-chat amongst the audience members and everyone could hear Chris’s phenomenal vocals.

As the show progressed, you could hear cat calls for “Rusty Cage,” “Jesus Christ Pose” and the like but Chris had his plan all mapped out and he launched into “Wide Awake” from his days with Audioslave. The acoustic version is better than the original in my opinion and I hope Chris puts these shows out on CD and DVD because I will purchase it right away. The crowd lights up as he starts to sing-“Fell on Black Days”- from the unbelievable “Superunknown” album with Soundgarden, again the result was staggering. And he is probably the only person that could turn “Blow Up the Outside World” into a love fest as the audience were all drifting away to another stratosphere while swaying back and forth to the pleasant sounds. I could see boyfriends & girlfriends snuggling real close together singing “Blow up the Outside World,” kind of strange, right? But that is what he does to you, he can hypnotize an entire audience with his vocals and guitar playing ability.

At the half way point of the show, he slipped on a “vinyl” as people were cynically were asking “what is that?” He said that he couldn’t find anyone that could play the piano part so he put on the record and sang “When I’m Down.” Folks, I’m telling you that could have been the best song of the night and in all the concerts I have ever attended I have never seen that. He made it work with his ever-lasting passion, absolutely stunning. I was doing the “Wayne’s World We Are Not Worthy Bow.” As the show was in full force, the sweetest moment of the night was about to happen as his daughter came out on the stage to help her dad sing the songs “Say Hello to Heaven” and “Season’s.” The women behind me said something to the effect of “you just made my life” as they seem to all melt once he started singing “Seasons.”

After “Seasons” I could hear the distinctive notes to “Thank You” by the Mighty Led Zeppelin and there are not many artists that could pull this off but we are talking about Cornell. He completely nailed it and by this time I was high above the clouds never wanting to come down. I mentioned that he could get an audience to do anything and towards the end of the show he asked everyone to “stretch” and come forward to the stage. No one really moved so he said that it was an order and people were flying out of their seats to get closer to the stage. He closed the set with two Audioslave monster hits-“Be Yourself” and “Doesn’t Remind Me” as it then became a “sing-a-long” super fest.

Chris re-enters the stage for his encores and as the opening chords to “Black Hole Sun” begins I am beside myself (as was everyone else) and can’t wait to sing along to this phenomenal song. But most just listened, so I held back because I didn’t want my terrible voice to ruin the moment for those around me. You can tell that he put a lot of time and effort into this tour because he followed these songs to the very note even as the arrangements shifted. Chris is a huge Beatles fan and he performed “A Day in The Life” to absolute perfection. I was blown away that he even did the “woke up…got out of bed” part with such precision. Chris, please release this song immediately, even the most die-hard fan of the Beatles would have to agree that this is the closest to the Beatles (besides McCartney and Starr of course) we are ever going to get. He also covered Lennon’s “Imagine” with such beauty that it is hard to describe; you had to be there or go to one of his upcoming shows.

In my opinion, Chris Cornell has found his niche and I would attend every acoustic show he ever wanted to play in New York City. The man is a living legend and you’d be remiss if you miss this performance. Thank you Chris for an unbelievable night, I am still drifting.  

Set List

1.       Dark Globe (Syd Barrett)

2.       Ground Zero

3.       I Promise It’s Not Goodbye

4.       You Know My Name

5.       Can’t Change Me

6.       Wide Awake (Audioslave)

7.      Call Me A Dog (Temple Of The Dog)

8.       Sunshower

9.       Fell on Black Days (Soundgarden)

10.     Blow Up The Outside World (Soundgarden)

11.     I Am The Highway (Audioslave)

12.     When I’m Down

13.     Sweet Euphoria

14.     Heaven’s Dead (Audioslave)

15.     Say Hello 2 Heaven (Temple Of The Dog)

16.     Seasons

17.     Thank You (Mighty Led Zeppelin)

18.     Sad Sad City (Ghostland Observatory)

19.     Be Yourself (Audioslve)

20.     Doesn’t Remind Me (Audioslave)

Encore

21.     Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden)

22.     A Day In The Life (The Beatles)

23.      Imagine (Lennon)

24.     Like A Stone (Audioslave)

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2 Comments »

  1. A beautiful write up about a beautiful lady. I am so glad you have so many happy memories to hold on to. I love Patsy Cline – my favorites are “Crazy and Sweet Dreams” My thoughts and prayers are with you. Hope you are doing okay.

    R

    Comment by Rosanna — May 23, 2011 @ 9:29 am

  2. A lot of interpretations, very very good.

    Comment by Calogero — February 22, 2012 @ 7:06 pm


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