In course of the Higher Truth Tour, Chris Cornell made a stop in Vienna’s legendary Konzerthaus on April 12th.
The support act, Fantastic Negrito, started his set right at 8pm. Fantastic Negrito is a blues musician from California who started his career on the streets, where he was „sitting (…) playing for change a year and a half ago“. No wonder he now enjoys big success, though: the outstanding vocal ability, paired with his guitar skills left me absolutely amazed within only a few minutes. His voice has a really special dual quality: it is full of pressure, while still keeping a very bright timbre; it is extremely melodical but yet very firm and steady. The singer was supported by a very talented piano player. And, as Chris Cornell pointed out later that evening, he admires the unique artist a great deal – very righteously so!
The main act commenced his set one hour later, at 9pm. In total, Chris Cornell played no less than 27 (!) songs that night, his voice accompanied only by his guitar and, for some songs, multi-instrumentalist Bryan Gibson on cello, banjo, or other.
The almost 3-hour gig started with Before We Disappear from the new Higher Truth album, which was released in September 2015 and is also name of the current tour.
It is thus quite strange that Chris Cornell only played four songs from his latest release (Before We Disappear, Higher Truth, Josephine, Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart). The evening mainly consisted of covers – which was something I had not expected. Of course, songs from his Soundgarden, Audioslave or Temple of the Dog times (such as Rusty Cage, Black Hole Sun, Doesn’t Remind Me, I Am the Highway, Wooden Jesus, Hunger Strike and others) are not strictly covers – but titles like Billie Jean (Michael Jackson), The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Bob Dylan), Don’t Let It Bring You Down (Neil Young), One (U2 / Metallica medley) or A Day In the Life (The Beatles) certainly are. Even though he performed each song in a very personal and catchy way, I think he went a bit too far with the quantity of the covers.
Also, the whole set was mostly held in the same style: ballads, ballads and more ballads! He seemed as if he could not get enough of the slow, emotional songs – and he did – without a doubt – sing and play them perfectly, but after two hours I was truly hungry for change.
But I guess this is the style Chris Cornell has found for himself and the path he will continue to perceive. And there is nothing wrong with that, which becomes more than clear when he sings his lyrics and the whole concert hall gets filled up with his voice which completely enfolds you and lets time stop for a moment. He is definitely a great vocalist, and one with the widest vocal range amongst the modern popular artists. But I did miss the harder and louder Soundgarden stuff – I probably had the wrong expectations.
One of the last songs in the encore was a cover of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U, who recently died on April 21st. As if Chris Cornell anticipated the artist’s near death, he paid moving tribute to what was one of the most intriguing musicians since the 1980s.
I want to use this moment to commemorate all the fantastic musicians who have left (and will leave) us, not only in 2016 like David Bowie, Lemmy, Prince and more, but any time. May all of them rest in peace and proudly look back on millions of fans whose lives they have enriched with their music.