Live Review: Chris Cornell — Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles
Sun, 18 Dec 2011 17:51:11
For William Shakespeare, the apex of art was the convergence of comedy and tragedy. The same maxim holds true for Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. During the Los Angeles stop of his "Songbook" Tour at the Orpheum Theatre, Cornell dispensed enough humor and darkness to make for a transcendent and timeless show. As he sauntered onto the stage, he asked the packed crowd, "Is this going to be rowdy at all?"
They responded with overwhelming applause and cheers as he began "Scar Upon the Sky". Strumming his acoustic guitar, Cornell's voice reverberated with a divine prowess flawlessly filling the theater and beyond. He transfixed as he hypnotically wove lyrics and chords together.
Before beginning "As Hope and Promise Fade", he explained, "Originally, this song was called 'Two Drink Minimum'. I changed the title later. I'm eventually going to change the title of all of my songs because as we age words mean different things".
Regardless of the title, the song touted a smoky jazz elegance that was utterly entrancing. "Can't Change Me" showcased Cornell's knack for an immortal hook, which was preface by his realization he has "German" in his forearms. His scream proved gargantuan during the crescendo of Audioslave's hurricane remembrance, "Wide Awake".
The singer songwriter deftly examined tragedy during the unreleased Songbook gem, "Cleaning My Gun". He declared, "It's about somebody who's sitting at home thinking it's time to do away with their life. Everyone goes through this once in a while, probably...It's that moment when somebody's sizing it up and wondering if it's worth it."
Cornell would be the one to talk them off the ledge as the tune evoked a myriad of emotions wrapped up inside of a strangely welcoming refrain. Notched between a heavenly chorus and somber verse, Cornell struck a brilliant balance between good and evil with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and that voice. His lyrical genius shone through Soundgarden classic "Fell on Black Days" as every word painted a pastiche of darkness. "Seasons" remained a standout. He delivered it with a sense of dark folk poetry that carried into the elegaic desert anthem "Burden In My Hand".
With his cover of Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper," he picked up an electric guitar and built menacing live loops as he screamed The Boss's story of police pursuit on the Jersey Turnpike.
Before a gorgeous take on The Beatles's "Ticket to Ride", Cornell announced it as one of his favorite songs and that it "turns out it was one of my daughter's favorite songs. She had the immediate honest reaction only children have."
He still possesses that same fire and passion for music and that's why he's even more potent, powerful, and relevant than ever. "Black Hole Sun" bristled with a similar immortality as Cornell's voice highlighted this apocalyptic story beautifully.
Ultimately, Cornell is still one of the most important and incredible singers of all time. His voice bares an unmatched vibrancy and vitality that echoes through songbook and every show he plays. Shakespeare would be proud of Seattle's preeminent bard.
Were you there?