As he walks to the stage, Seattle’s favourite son and long time grunge God Chris Cornell takes time to shake hands with people lined along the front row at QPACs sold out show.
He looks around the room ” So I got to come to Australia twice in on year which is a record for me, but its been really fucking amazing, so my life for me as I get older is really getting better” he opens with a new song from his new album ‘Before we disappear’.
Most of his music from his work with Soundgarden and Audio Slave translates quite well when played in a simple acoustic arrangement without much other accompaniment other than a cello at times, played by the mysterious and quiet Brian. Cornell invites Brian to say hello to the crowd, at then reflects that Brian could be sitting there thinking about all the ‘prostitutes he buried in shallow graves’ and probably prefers to remain mysterious.
‘Nearly forgot my broken heart’ the new single translates well as Chris jokes that he might just launch into ‘Love me tender’, instead launching into Soundgarden classic ‘ Fell on black days’ and slowed down version minus all the production of the original a somewhat impressive rendition.
As Chris sings each note it is apparent that he not only a great story teller with his emphatic lyrics but he sings from the very depths of his soul. He hits each note with precision, his voice carrying high enough to wake the Gods. Each time he lets go the audience rewards him with a round of applause. ‘ Black Hole Sun’ and ‘ Seasons’ clear crowd favourites.
He takes a moment to sing a cover of ‘Nothing Compares to You’ the Sinead O’Conner classic ( originally written by Prince) and the audience is momentarily silenced as the room fills with an air of melancholy.
He introduces hiss song ‘ You know my Name’ from the James Bond Movie Casino Royale song musing that he was the least pop star to ever do a song for a Bond movie. ” I think they didn’t know how Daniel Craig was gonna do, if people were gonna like him or he was gonna work out as a Bond as he should. So I met the Director I was on set.. and the first thing I said was ‘Oh so this is kind of a big deal for the UK, this is really big for you- you must be really nervous.’ And they both looked at me like I was the biggest fucking cunt they’d ever seen. If anything, there was a voice in the back of my head going ” You fucking idiot, you could have said almost anything else – you could have said ” Man, you’re sorta shorter than I expected” and that would not have been as cunty as what I did say but it would have been fine” and so then I felt like an idiot.” the audience is laughing as he launches into the song.
These kind of stories and anecdotes that Chris Cornell pauses to talk about make the show much more enjoyable, a way of entertaining rather that just treating it like a job to deliver music. Cornell is witty, comes across as a down to Earth kind of guy that dressed in the kind of clothes that were a part of the early Seattle scene all black with combat boots.
With Australian audiences lucky enough to have Cornell out here twice in one year is it is a treat to see the two sides of the talented musician. The more subdued acoustic set a contrast to the high octane Soundgarden shows it is clear, that no matter what that distinct voice is worth paying all of your attention to.