Not long after kicking off his two-hour-ten minute ‘Songbook’ show at the Keswick Theater Sunday night, Chris Cornell expressed appreciation for the chance to play such nice little venues such as the Glenside theater.
Part of the appeal of catching the vocal giant at the Keswick is the relative intimacy of the venue. The last time I caught Cornell in such a small space was 20 years ago when his band Soundgarden played a record release party at a loft in lower Manhattan.
It’s hardly a surprise the Keswick show and Cornell’s entire six-week tour sold out in no time. Rock Gods, who are as remarkably consistent as Cornell seldom play small theaters.
What Cornell, who will perform Friday at the Borgata, didn’t play was almost as interesting as what he chose. After leaving the Keswick, you can’t help but think about the myriad of songs of his that didn’t make the set list. Cornell’s accomplishments whether as the leader of Soundgarden, the focal point of Audioslave, the booming voice behind Temple of The Dog or as an underheralded solo artist, are considerable.
Cornell was simply flanked by six guitars, four acoustic, two electric, while perched on a stool. Sure, Cornell was compelling delivering such Soundgarden staples such as ‘Fell On Black Days’ and ‘Like a Suicide’ and Audioslave’s ‘Be Yourself.’ His unparalleled vocal range was on display during Temple of the Dog’s ‘Say Hello to Heaven.’
But Cornell was at his best emoting while rendering covers. He offered a stirring version of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Thank You.’
Cornell capped the show with his smoldering, stripped-down version of Michael Jackson’s classic ‘Billie Jean.’
The bearded Cornell, who is once again sporting his long curly locks, which approximate his early to mid-90s look, will leave behind the revamped covers for Soundgarden. Cornell and his band are working on their first album in 15 years, which will be followed by a tour. Those shows will certainly be a far cry from Cornell’s solo experience.