Chris Cornell simply walked on stage and made jokes about how much he loved Birmingham and Duran Duran which won the crowd of already hard core fans even more. His light hearted banter was a strong theme of the night from beginning to finish and added to his character allowing us to feel a different connection than the one created by his songs. He formed friendships with each and every one of us straight off the bat.
The night consisted of Cornell’s new tracks, old tracks and some covers which were welcomed with open arms such as, Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U in tribute to the late singer-songwriter Prince.
His first song, Before We Disappear proved me right: Cornell’s voice is undeniably special. His soulful delivery and catchy hooks had me singing along trying to mimic his riffs and runs. It’s one thing listening to this song through speakers but live is a fresh and breath-taking experience as the vocals are not just similar but better with their resemblances in place and small differences noticeable.
Cornell’s stripped back performance of only his guitar and the occasional assist by a cellist was expected as his vocals and lyrics stand alone. Using a loop pedal, Cornell intensified the subtle rock vibes by adding so many layers of guitar riffs and vocal runs that by the end of the song, the only song that could follow it was Casino Royale’s You Know My Name which Cornell wrote in 2006 for the James Bond film.
Cornell’s supporting act, Fantastic Negrito was the perfect warm up as his blues and punk fusion with soul and funk undertones had the entire crowd struggling to stay in their seats. His live rendition of his song Lost in a Crowd which he performed on US show Empire, resonated throughout the hall and was the song that made the audience remember his name as his audible raw emotion and passion made every word seem directed at us individually.
After a deserved standing ovation and the audience’s demand for an encore, Cornell returned to the stage and performed the last song of the night, the title track of his new album Higher Truth and was dedicated to those affected by the tragic events that happened in Brussels and Paris.
The power of Cornell’s words touched the audience emotionally both in and out of song.