“I love you Chris Cornell!” some random guy yelled out in a sudden and rare instance of crowd silence.
“Thank you buddy!” Cornell quickly replied while trying to eyeball his affectionate fan.
“So, what do you guys want to hear?” Cornell asked.
And somewhere muddled in the flurry of audience requests that ensued, I’m pretty sure Cornell developed most of his setlist at that given moment that he would perform over the next couple hours.
Cornell’s been sporting a Jesus Christ look lately with a fairly long dark beard and stringy shoulder-length dark hair. It’s kind of a different look for him. Regardless, the grammy award winning Soundgarden/Audioslave founder and frontman spent the next two and a half hours treating fans to his hit-filled “Songbook” collection from a wildly successful 25+ year career in music.
I can’t really decide which moment or what song stole the night or was liked by the audience the best. There was just to many solid performances given by Cornell, with each of them rivaling in showmanship and vocal vertex.
From the opening song, which I thought was some sort of tribute to Elvis Costello (but actually was a cover of Nick Lowe's Peace, Love & Understanding), to a flawless depiction of “Seasons,” or the heart-felt and smooth crooning of “Sunshower,” to when he hit his vocal pinnacle on “Fell On Black Days,” to the unyielding performance of “Hunger Strike” that evoked a standing ovation from the crowd, Cornell’s enthusiasm for playing never once faded.
Believe it or not, a fight that broke out by some good ole’ redneck boys (this is still Kentucky, you know) during a performance of “Like A Stone.” What a bad song to fight to I may add. Must have been over a girl I’m guessing. Even Cornell had to stop playing because of the audience’s noticeable distraction and the security waving flashlights.
“You’re interrupting my song, dudes. Just relax and sit down,” Cornell jokingly, yet seriously requested.
And right after the rest of the audience graciously applauded Cornell for calling out the feuding fans, he picked right back up where the fight stopped the song, and finished gracefully.
A dedication to a performance of “Wide Awake” was extended to Hurricane Katrina victims, which was pretty noble.
Not forgetting this night was the 31st anniversary of John Lennon’s murder - even to the hour - Cornell belted out his acclaimed version of “Imagine,” which evoked an eery silence during the song. I kind of wished he had someone on piano for that song. It was beautiful and well-timed nonetheless.
Cornell closed with a blistering take “Blow Up the Outside World,” (my personal favorite Soundgarden tune) leaving his guitar on the floor as he walked off stage waving. The guitar strings kept emitting a low and wavy hum from his last and final strum which left a sense of euphoria to his exit. Several people were still singing the song’s chorus, including myself, as we all began filing out to the street.
What a damn good show.
*Photos by Jason Ashcraft
**Jason Ashcraft is a freelance music writer who focuses on Kentucky's original music scene. Visit his blog at LouisvilleScuttlebutt.com or you scan this QR code on your smart phone to view the mobile site: