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Live Review: Chris Cornell – 11th December 2015 – Opera House, Sydney, Australia

5 min read

Surrounded by a beautiful collection of guitars, the occasional help of a friend on cello to provide a rich backing to several of his hits and a voice as distinctive as they come in rock music, as well as a hefty catalogue of records to form one hell of a set list, Soundgarden front-man and solo rock legend Chris Cornell has been making his way around Australia this month, bringing his hits to fans down under as part of the musicians latest acoustic tour.

Cornell is most widely known as the front man of outfit Soundgarden who pioneered, alongside acts like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, the early nineties grunge movement and became synonymous with the grunge genre thanks to hits like Black Hole Sun and Blow Up the Outside World. As part of the collective, Cornell and co have sold over 20 million records during their 30 years together and still periodically get together to tour and record. On one side of his work within Soundgarden, Cornell fronted rock supergroup Audioslave for several years alongside a handful of Rage Against The Machine band members as well as a stint in Temple of the Dog, and on the other side, the multi-talented vocalist and songsmith promotes an almost equally successful solo career which has seen him produce four studio albums to date.

The alt-rock icon is in Australia this month performing an acoustic tour in support of his latest Higher Truth release which was unveiled earlier this year and sees the showman delve deep into acoustic territory; displaying himself and a tender and sentimental songwriter outside of the usual heavy output that most music listeners are familiar with. This past few days has seen the musician set his sights on Sydney’s famous Opera House for the next performances of the Australian Higher Truth tour.

Laying down a large rug, a record player and a few homely props to set the mood, Cornell created an intimate feel for fans to sit back, relax and bask in the musicians many musical talents as the musician set out to deliver a stellar set of stripped back hits from his various career-spanning projects.

For any fan of Cornell’s career, the extensive set list would be enough to make the hardest of fans weak at the knees. His many songwriting accomplishments were given a fair share of the spotlight with intimately performed live renditions of formerly full-throttle and meaty classics like the Grammy Award winning Soundgarden number Black Hole Sun, and its fellow Superunknown single Fell on Black Days, as well as Down on the Upside hit Blow Up The Outside World delivering one the key and commercial segments of the show. Despite being seated within the extravagant and mature settings of the Opera House, fans proudly showed little self-restraint when it came to declaring their admiration for the musician’s performance.

Holding a lanky figure, almost eclipsed by his instrument, Chris held centre stage with a robust confidence throughout the hit-filled set; offering fans a selection of impeccably executed covers including a stunning, laid-back performance of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and Led Zepplins’ Thank You which complimented the musicians reputation of being a diverse stage entertainer. Among the set he also found time to offer up near flawless versions of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U which gave those in the crowd a new appreciated on the penning outside of the widely known Sinead O’Connor cover, and two Bob Dylan numbers; The Times They Are A-Changin’ and I Threw It All Away. While other performers tend to stay clear of covering tracks by the greats, Cornell challenged such an opportunity to perform tracks from some of the most acclaimed and successful artists in history within the gorgeously shaped walls of the Opera House which provided the superstar with an organic and raw setting to deliver his show. While holding his own throughout the most part of the show, the introduction of friend and arranger/composer and multi-instrumentalist Bryan Gibson on cello gave tracks like Nothing Compares 2 U, Fell On Black Days and You Know My Name – Cornell’s Casino Royale contribution – an orchestral dressing and lifted the stripped back performances to a whole new level within the acoustic set.

Time was certainly not a factor that was given much consideration by Cornell who also slipped in some tracks from another of his career side projects, Temple of the Dog, with Say Hello 2 Heaven and Wooden Jesus delighting some of the musicians more hardcore followers. Confessing to be a big U2 and Metallica fan, Chris combined a pair of well known hits from both bands with the melody of U2’s One providing the backdrop for the lyrics of Metallica’s One; getting the performer with one of many standing ovations as he slicked through the merged hit with a seemingly effortless execution.

The performance by one of musics finest rock songwriters and one of the worlds most skilled vocalists was one that every fan of any act could only dream of witnessing from their idols. Taking a meaty handful of songs – popular and obscure – across multiple projects from his 30 year career, Chris delivered a raw concert experience that showcased his many talents and put the icons showmanship under the spotlight for fans who were more than willing to give the performer a handful of standing ovations throughout the inspiring 2 hour and 27 song set.

Before We Disappear
Can’t Change Me
As Hope & Promise Fade
The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Bob Dylan cover) (rewritten version called “The… more )
Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart
Fell on Black Days (Soundgarden song)
Thank You (Led Zeppelin cover)
Doesn’t Remind Me (Audioslave song)
One (U2 cover) (w/ Metallica’s “One” lyrics)
Call Me a Dog (Temple of the Dog song)
Blow Up the Outside World (Soundgarden song)
Let Your Eyes Wander
You Know My Name
Nothing Compares 2 U (Prince cover)
Rusty Cage (Soundgarden song)
Misery Chain
I Am the Highway (Audioslave song)
Billie Jean (Michael Jackson cover)
Hunger Strike (Temple of the Dog song)
Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden song)
Worried Moon
Wooden Jesus (Temple of the Dog song)
A Day in the Life (The Beatles cover)
I Threw It All Away (Bob Dylan cover)
Higher Truth