October 7th, 2007, Grand Sierra Ballroom Reno, NV
Most know him as the voice of Soundgarden and more recently Audioslave, two prominent bands in the alternative rock movement. Since entering the ring as a grunge singer in 1984 Cornell, and the band’s he sung for have sold in excess of thirty million albums. His vocal output is long and illustrious with MTV recently calling him one of the 12 greatest voices in rock music. 2006 was a surprise year for both Cornell and his fan base. After recording and releasing his third album with Audioslave (Revelations) he immersed himself in his second solo album Carry On rather than tour. While on hiatus, Cornell announced he was leaving Audioslave to focus on the growth of his personal career. Granted he was getting plenty of offers including landing the theme song for the new James Bond movie Casino Royale. That song “You Know My Name” is taken from the all-to-familiar Cornell “live” rap as he’d introduce the members of Audioslave. On the second leg of his solo tour, Cornell stopped in Reno to deliver a ‘best of” set and convert the enthusiastic crowd to his new found direction.
Opening this night was New York’s Earl Greyhound, a three piece that made a BIG noise in a Cream / Hendrix sort of way. Most of the set was blissful feedback and thumping rhythms with roots in Buddy Miles and Electric Mud. When Cornell’s band jumped on stage it was immediately obvious they were less Seattle and more LA. Guitarists Yogi Lonich (Wallflowers, Buckcherry) and Peter Thorn (Courtney Love, Jewel, Alicia Keys) collide like raging bulls in heat. Their guitars are metallic, yet alternative, bluesy yet grinding. Their pedal setup is extensive for the range of effects they need to pull off. The rhythm section is made up of drummer Jason Sutter and the entertaining Corey McCormick (Rafael Moreira, Roberta Robinson) on bass who, on several occasions, stole the show. Cornell, donned in denim and fit as ever, swaggered out to the familiar Soundgardern riff “Let Me Drown”. His voice breaks through the grinding guitars and instantly becomes hypnotic.
As a singer, Cornell is blessed with a staggering range. His high end is his trademark and can get taxing if over used however, the set list is arranged flawlessly to accentuate the singer’s repertoire. The cinematic ebb and flow maximizes his full range as a musician and performer. Crowd favorite “Outshined,” “Show Me How to Live” and Rusty Cage” are interspersed with newly penned “No Such Thing” and the above-mentioned “You Know My Name”. The band’s ability to pull them off seamlessly is a testament to how well they’ve jelled over the past few months. The Temple of the Dog classic “Hunger Strike” is bone chilling to perfection especial when recounting that Cornell was roommates with Andy Wood (Mother Love Bone) to whom the project and the songs pay homage. As in the last season of Audioslave, Cornell breaks the set in two with a solo acoustic spotlight. “I used to hate this song,” said Cornell as he plucked the opening chord of ‘Hotel California’, “now it is the story of my life.”
A fan of classic rock, Cornell could not have been more ingratiating Intertwining and drifting in and out of Led Zeppelin, Eagles and his own past including Audioslave hits “Like A Stone” and “I Am The Highway” he imprisoned his audience with just his voice and acoustic guitar. “Can’t Change Me” from his first solo album Euphoria Morning brought a tremendous response as did “Doesn’t Remind Me” which had the band back on stage to finish it off. “Cochise” stormed the stage amid flashing lights and metallic fury followed by the Temple of the Dog track “Pushing Forward Back”. Right on queue, “Arms around Your Love” possibly the strongest of the newer songs, fell right in line. Its TOTD vibe could have easily been written during those early days before the Seattle scene turned so dark. Ripping versions of “Black Hole Sun” and “Jesus Christ Pose” set up the encore of “Burden in My Hand”, the Singles hit “Seasons” amid a flurry of pick flinging (some inside band thing). “Slave and Bulldozers” jammed into Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll” leaving us all quite deaf for the evening.
Website: Chris Cornell