Saturday Night: Chris Cornell At The House Of Blues

Chris Cornell Warehouse Live April 2, 2011

Check out our slideshow of Chris Cornell performing solo at House of Blues.

We can only assume that this current cross-country solo acoustic jaunt by Chris Cornell is a warm-up for a full assault by his recently reunited Soundgarden in the coming months. Or so we dearly hope.

Either way, for two hours on Saturday at the House Of Blues, Cornell took us all up into his attic of musical memories, playing songs from every stop along the way of his career so far, including a few left-field covers, while acting as an all too gracious host, considering the talking inside HOB.

(At this point complaining about Houstonians talking at concerts is like dancing about architecture, writing about music, or washing your car in Houston.)

Opening with the charity single, "I Promise It's Not Goodbye", Cornell took us through a sort of This Is Your Life of his own design, satisfying everyone who has climbed aboard his art and the work of his grunge contemporaries the past 25 years. That means stuff from Temple Of The Dog, Soundgarden, the spotty solo stuff, and even short-lived super-group '00s Audioslave.

For as dark, brooding, and weird that Cornell's collective has been the past 27 years (yes 27 years) it's refreshing to find him to be goofy as a solo artist, surrounded by amps and guitars onstage, with nothing else between him and the crowd but his voice and a story to tell.

Last we saw him in Houston, he was touring behind 2009's Timbaland-produced Scream, which sounded exactly like a Chris Cornell album produced by Timbaland. He didn't seem comfortable with any of that material, but he sure as hell jumped out of his skin to play over 30 songs from his Soundgarden hitch and on.

Cornell at his base is a showman who knows what to give his public, and luckily he's been party to some of the best rock music the past few decades that he can deliver a decent show. The voice, that high hellish holler, is very much still intact. Some people pop their skulls out of place to reach the heights he does on a verse.

Two hours gave Cornell time to bat around with his canon, and dish out rarities that few know the background of. "Cleaning My Gun" was written for Johnny Cash but was discarded by the renegade legend because it was out of his register, but Cornell has resurrected it for himself. He did his own solo cut "When I'm Down" accompanied by the instrumental track spinning on a turntable three feet away from his stool.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty