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ConcertsChris Cornell at Birmingham Symphony Hall, UK, 6/19/2012

Posted on Thursday, June 21 2012 @ 00:28:24 CDT by Dean Pedley
Concert Reviews

Chris Cornell's Songbook tour stopped off at Birmingham's Symphony Hall as the Soundgarden frontman revisited his past in a show punctuated by humor, personality and subtle (yet at times startling) power. SoT staff writer Dean Pedley reports from the sold out venue where Cornell offered Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Beatles and John Lennon covers alongside a contemplative career overview.

The ticket confirmation came late in the day for this one leaving me with a decision to make endure the return of Shrek as England took on the football giants of Ukraine or make the trip to Symphony Hall and witness Chris Cornell strip down his back catalogue anthems for voice and guitar across a set approaching two and a half hours. Tough choice; this was right up there with Peter Frampton as being one of the very best gigs I have seen at Birmingham's premier live music venue.

For the most part the audience, in keeping with the intimate atmosphere, sits in a reverent politeness and it is a long way removed from nine days previously when Cornell was on stage at the nearby Download festival with Soundgarden in front of a crowd in excess of 100,000. The songs span the length of Cornell's entire career, opening with the unreleased "Roads We Choose". Going all the way back to Mother Love Bone, Andrew Wood's "Man of Golden Words" segues into "Comfortably Numb" before a warm welcome greets some Temple of the Dog with "Wooden Jesus", "Call me a Dog" and a by-request, resolute, "Hunger Strike". The Audioslave years are well represented with "Dandelion", "I am the Highway" and "Wide Awake" amongst the highlights across a total song count that stretches to twenty-six.

Cornell's distinctive voice remains memorable and remarkable, no more in evidence than on the version of "When I'm Down" (from the 1999 solo album Euphoria Morning) when he sets down his guitar and sings to a vinyl recording of the late Natasha Shneider's piano. A pulsating version of "Blow up the Outside World" has the stage drenched in red lights as layered guitars loop around the echoed vocals and is the nearest the show comes to anything even remotely resembling Soundgarden. "Black Hole Sun" leads the encore which includes a stunning rendition of "A Day in the Life" complete with precision mid-section breakdown.

Poignantly ending the evening with his take on "Imagine" this was a spectacular performance from a very special artist.

Set List:-

1. Roads We Choose
2. Ground Zero
3. As Hope and Promise Fade
4. Dandelion
5. Wide Awake
6. Man of Golden Words
7. Comfortably Numb
8. Wooden Jesus
9. Call Me A Dog
10. Hunger Strike
11. Can't Change Me
12. Seasons
13. Sunshower
14. Scream
15. Be Yourself
16. Fell On Black Days
17. Burden In My Hand
18. Mind Riot
19. Doesn't Remind Me
20. Thank You
21. I Am The Highway
22. Blow Up The Outside World
1. Black Hole Sun
2. Like A Stone
3. A Day In The Life
4. Imagine

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