Vine Street was abuzz as Chris Cornell brought his club tour to the Avalon Hollywood. There were as many people looking for a ticket as had one since it’s not often a performer of Cornell’s stature plays such a small venue. Avalon holds roughly 1,500. In Los Angeles, he easily could have filled a much larger facility.
Understandably some artists want to make a break from their past, so they can establish their new work and identity. Cornell’s new album will be hitting stores on June 5th, so it wouldn’t have been surprising if he used the opportunity to showcase his upcoming material. Just being so close to him would surely be enough for any fan. Right from the get-go, he revealed his intentions. His touring band, comprised of guitarist Yogi Lonich (Wallflowers and Buckcherry), guitarist Peter Thorn (Courtney Love), drummer Jason Sutter, and bassist Corey McCormick, launched into Soundgarden’s “Spoon Man,” and the house went wild.
The first new song was the rockin’ “No Such Thing,” and the crowd enjoyed it. Then, Cornell had an audience member pass up some type of white rag to the stage. He flashed it to the crowd and the band launched into the song written on it: “Say Hello 2 Heaven.” The audience exploded with joy. While many fans most likely hoped and assumed we’d be getting Soundgarden songs, the majority had to be surprised upon hearing Temple of the Dog. Cornell continued with that band’s other big hit, “Hunger Strike.” It was amazing to hear him still hit the high notes on the chorus. He’s arguably got one of the best voices of a rock singer. He easily could have found himself performing opera had he traveled a different path in life.
Midway through the show, Cornell carried his son, about 18 months old, out to the center of the stage and asked the ladies in the house to say hello. He grabbed an acoustic guitar and dedicated “Seasons” from the movie Singles to the kid. The unplugged mini-set continued with the new “Scar on the Sky,” “Can't Change Me” from his first solo album Euphoria Morning and a pair of Audioslave tunes, “ I Am The Highway” and “Doesn't Remind Me” with the band returning to finish off the latter song.
Cornell delivered a fantastic, gut-wrenching version of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” It is admittedly hard not to initially scoff at the idea, but he really delivers on the song. The initial set ended after about 75 minutes with “Cochise.” Cornell pulled out a rarity for the first encore, “Sunshower” from Great Expectations. During the second encore, Cornell went to the audience again and pulled up a sign that requested “Zero Chance.” They closed with an extended "Slaves & Bulldozers," which included a drum solo.
If you are a fan of Cornell's work, I highly recommend you see him. In the month of June, Cornell will be heading to Europe, opening for Aerosmith. In July, he returns to the States to play larger venues. In August, he returns to Europe to play festivals. Tour information is available at his website.
Setlist: Spoonman – Outshined – Original Fire – No Such Thing – Say Hello 2 Heaven – Hunger Strike – What You Are – Rusty Cage – Seasons – Scar on the Sky – I am the Highway – Can't Change Me – Doesn't Remind Me – Your Soul Today – Billie Jean – Cochise – Like a Stone – Sunshower – Black Hole Sun – You Know My Name – Zero Chance – Slaves and Bulldozers
Video of "Doesn't Remind Me" from the show.
Video of "Black Hole Sun" from the show.