Chris Cornell enthusiastically strummed and picked his way through a 23 song acoustic set at the Beacon Theater in New York City last night, blending a concentration of songs from his newly released Higher Truth album with solo originals and a colorful mixture of covers and classics from his days with Temple of the Dog, Soundgarden and Audioslave. Magnetic onstage and openly relaxed he faced a somewhat raucous but receptive audience who appeared to be drawn by his superstar grunge status but also somewhat confused by his acoustic approach. The constant shouts betrayed an appetite for Soundgarden metal which Cornell roundly denied, at one point commenting that the yelling out of songs sounded like a blur that might give him inspiration for new titles. He included an unexpected piece of Americana with Dylan’s “The Times They Are a Changin,” cleverly adding Back to the title. Notable were a seemingly effortless but deeply moving “Fell On Black Days,” an ethereal offering of “I Am The Highway” and a spirited version of “Hunger Strike” that featured his unparalleled soaring vocal range. His surprising cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” was graced with the elegance of his raspy delivery. The two song encore was comprised of “Josephine” and “Higher Truth,” the latter concluding with a surging wall of sound emanating from a loop Cornell created during which he pleadingly repeated the mantra “I’ll take a truth… A higher truth… A higher truth… I want the truth… The higher truth… A higher truth.”
Chris Cornell has firmly established himself as not only a rocker, but also an acoustic artist with a very unique presentation. It is a show any fan of his should not miss.