PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Reviews

Chris Cornell: 22 April 2011 - Chicago

Selena Fragassi
Photo Credit: Dana Loftus

Chris Cornell delves deep into the Superunknown on his solo acoustic tour.

Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell

City: Chicago
Venue: Vic Theater
Date: 2011-04-22

At the end of the night, it was just a man and his guitar. And much like Picasso’s famed painting, seeing Chris Cornell alone on the Vic Theatre stage bathed in a wash of warm filtered spotlights was a beautiful sight; albeit much less mournful than the artwork hanging on the Art Institute walls just a few miles away. Rather, this performance, one of the dates on a national sold-out acoustic tour, was a regal celebration of the singer’s glossy career catalogue with a few marbles thrown in for good measure (most notably covers of John Lennon, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd).

While many in the attendance could claim to be unilateral fans of Soundgarden or Audioslave or Temple of the Dog, on this night the front was united in its admiration solely of Cornell who, song after song, proved he still holds the court as one of rock music’s best singers in a sometimes sea of jesters. As tonight showed, years of practice have almost exclusively worked in his favor; an anomaly in the sour notes trumpeted by many frontmen who find themselves back on the bus for novelty tours. But let’s get one thing straight – Cornell’s show was no over-priced gift shop souvenir; it was a perfectly guided tour of the nuanced poetry of songwriting led by a cordial host who gripped the focus of his audience.

In a scene straight out of a Singles coffeehouse, Cornell braved the stage battling a cannon of fragrant incense and wearing a vintage ensemble of white T-shirt and cargo pants with his nostalgically coiffed shoulder-length hair looking very “Jesus Christ Pose”, apropos for the Good Friday holiday.

“This is the first time on the tour I’ve seen song requests,” he laughed, gazing at the poster board militia who had scribed their favorite tracks like temporary tattoos in notes that drifted off in a sea of screaming. Cornell pleased the crowd with performances they had expected: “Black Hole Sun”, “Fell on Black Days”, “Like a Stone”, “Say Hello 2 Heaven”, but he also surprised with a few abstracts that exposed deep inner dialogues. First there was “Ground Zero”, an ode to the world after 9/11 and then “When I’m Done”, which Cornell sang over an instrumental recording played on the turntable onstage. The latter was a moment of near sky-breaking gospel and further explored the intimacy of an artist not afraid to break away from the familiarity of a structured band.

Songs like “I Am the Highway” and “Burden in My Hands”, while masterful as Audioslave and Soundgarden recordings respectively, were even more poignant stripped away from the fire and fury of a quickly categorized grunge band. What was years ago a radio hit was tonight scientifically dissected for the beauty of its parts.

As conductor, Cornell made it known early on that this was personal. While reflecting on stories of Tom Morello and late roommate (and Temple of the Dog muse Andrew Wood), he came off the pages of the newsstand covers that dotted his past and made himself wholly accessible. Although it was never really clear what the rotary dial phone on the stage was for, perhaps it was symbolic of Cornell’s longing for communication. For this is the “Man of Golden Words” who declares, “Words and music are my only tools”, the man with his guitar who returned to the coffeehouse open mics of Seattle from whence he began. As Cornell would say, “You can’t change me.” Nor would we ever want to.



Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.