Chris Cornell does the Overture Center in Madison solo acoustic - photo by Sal Serio
The show opened with a half hour acoustic performance by Fantastic Negrito, a single performer accompanied by a backup guitarist. Negrito had plenty of wit and humor while also addressing some very serious events in his personal life that included the shooting death of his brother at the age of fourteen, and a near fatal car accident in 2000 that put Negrito in a coma for four weeks. His music is very heartfelt and expressive, full of passion, a great intro to the headlining performance by Chris Cornell.
Chris Cornell also performed with one accompanist, Bryan Gibson. There were a minimum of five guitars on stage at all times that Chris alternated between using. Bryan played the mandolin but mostly the cello to accompany Chris on about half of the thirty or so songs that were played. They were on stage for a solid two hours, including a three song encore. Again there was humor and a lot of emotion from Chris as he transitioned from new releases to covers to classic songs from the bands Soundgarden and Audioslave. The latter selections were sung as they must have been in the days when they were first written, with a lot of emotion and expression. The crowd was very vocal in their approval of the music, especially the section right across from me. There were plenty of cheers, clapping and whistles from the audience who often sang quietly along to the more familiar tunes.
Dressed in regular blue jeans, a T-shirt and long sleeved shirt Chris seemed very comfortable on stage even though it was his first time playing this particular venue. The subtle lighting scheme was perfect as the stage presence of Chris alone held the nearly sold out auditorium captive. Familiar songs such as “Fell On Black Days” and “Black Hole Sun” from Soundgarden, and “Like A Stone” and “Be Yourself” from Audioslave were among my personal favorites.
The dynamic vocals of Chris Cornell combined with the subtle instrumental accompaniment from Bryan Gibson produced a very impressive, memorable musical experience that all in attendance appeared to enjoy. I know I certainly did.