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An intimate evening with Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell
War Memorial
Nashville, TN
May 20, 2012
Chris Cornell Chris Cornell Chris Cornell

Story and photos by Kate Seesholtz

Having cancelled due to illness months ago, Nashville was anxious for Chris Cornell to take the stage at War Memorial Auditorium Sunday evening. Entering to standing applause, Cornell was quick to apologize for the former cancellation. He spent time chatting with the audience before launching into his two-hour set of mostly acoustic songs.

Chris Cornell made sure the audience felt a part of every aspect of the evening, even taking requests from the crowd. He played "Sweet Euphoria" for a woman as she shouted down from the balcony. The crowd took advantage of Cornell's good will, though. Shouting erupted the second Cornell ended a song, making it hard for the singer to communicate. At one point a man casually walked to the front of the stage and began to engage in conversation with the famed rocker. He was trying to convince Cornell to allow him to sing onstage with him. As security tried to pull him away, Chris Cornell obliged him and allowed him to duet for Temple of the Dogs' "Hunger Strike." Cornell warned/threatened him to not try and sound like Eddie Vedder, though that's exactly what he came off as. While the audience seemed to find the man's boldness exciting, and robustly cheered him on, the act came off as selfish and took away from the intimacy of the evening.

Chris Cornell took time to discuss his thoughts behind his famous songs. He remarked that he wrote "Can't Change Me" when he was sick of worrying about how others perceived him. "Dandelion," he explained, was written for "the unborn child in my wife's belly." A single spotlight often illuminated Cornell, giving these intense rock songs, such as ‘Fell on Black Days,' a new meaning. The legendary singer led the rapt audience through his entire career, from Audioslave's biggest hit "Like a Stone" to an innovative take on Soundgarden's "Blow Up the Outside" that incorporated looping guitars and vocals.

The encore treated the large audience to a hauntingly beautiful rendition of "Black Hole Sun," as well as a cover of The Beatle's "A Day in the Life." The most memorable moment came as Cornell ended the evening with his own take on John Lennon's "Imagine." The song felt even more powerful with the singer's signature growl behind it. It was the perfect way to end the intimate night.

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