Live Review: Chris Cornell

9 December 2015 | 1:43 pm | Jonty Czuchwicki

"Chris Cornell is a '90s Robert Plant. Whether this is old news or hotly debatable to you is irrelevant."

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Chris Cornell is a '90s Robert Plant. Whether this is old news or hotly debatable to you is irrelevant. The man can sing, duh, yet he also evokes a hot contention to the Led Zeppelin vocalist that no other rock'n'roll singer has ever come close to. This certainly becomes ingrained in your mind after watching and listening to the Soundgarden and Audioslave front man for the near two and a half hour duration of his solo performance. In fact, Chris Cornell performs for so long that he not only tests how true a fan you really are, but has probably only been rivalled by Damon Albarn's Danish Festival escapades alongside African band Jupiter in terms of performance length.

While Cornell takes the audience on a journey through his solo material, some Audioslave tracks, songs he has composed for feature films such as Casino Royale and cover songs primarily from Bob Dylan, the true charm of the show comes from the intimate atmosphere and the vulnerability it creates for Cornell. Without a band behind him there is no possibility of distilling an awkward quip with a random drum fill in between songs and it was evident that Cornell's dialogue between songs was ad-libbed, rather than the careful and calculated segues of an artist such as Nick Cave. This really added to the authenticity of the experience.

In songs such as Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart, this vulnerability is starkly characterised. The lack of a full band allows the listener to concentrate on the meaning of the words without being distracted by pounding drums or high gain guitar rhythms. Cornell's voice can soar, croon and dominate the mid range, with the 51-year-old singer barely effected by age induced wear and tear.

Bryan Gibson joined Cornell onstage to add the presence of cello to a great number of songs. A remarkable talent, Gibson's emotionally charged playing was not only complimentary but somewhat quintessential to the Chris Cornell solo experience. From manic vibrato to long deep notes and intermittent plucking, there's no intensive thought needed to deduce just why Cornell has invited Gibson on tour with him. The show ends climactically with both musicians emitting notes of frantic discord over layers of looping notes. The atmosphere is intense and the show concludes on its highest note. By the end of the show you feel like you know Chris Cornell on a first name basis.

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