A couple of nights ago I heard that according to the BBC, we’re basically not having any summer in London this year. How fuckin’ miserable is that? I knew nothing good was going to come out of that light winter we had, it has totally backfired now. The other day I had to get my coat to go out on Summer Solstice and in that moment, I sort of understood why people living in other places find it so easy to bitch about London… lame weather, crappy food, high prices, bad teeth, women who can’t walk in high heels… you know, there are hundreds of reasons to give this city a hard time but when you find yourself seated in an Edwardian theater like the London Palladium (the largest of some 60 major halls that sprang up in those years), in front of Chris Cornell, his 7 guitars and a record player, all of a sudden every single day of rain and bad food is absolutely worth it.
Last monday, Christopher put up one of the greatest shows I’ve seen in a long time… and I almost missed it. I had read that all +2,200 seats were sold out and I couldn’t find any tickets on Gumtree, so by monday at midday, the gig was a no-go for me. Then I just decided to ask at the venue if there were any places left and surprisingly, there were a few. One card swipe later, I was in.
I purposely skipped the opening act and arrived just 15 minutes before the main set. Thousands of Soundgarden fans were already in their seats by the time I got in and the moment I stepped into that theater, I knew something special was about to take place. At 8:45pm, the lights went off and the man himself walked calmly onto the stage, his presence inmediately sparking a loud ovation. A friendly Cornell greeted the audience and started the show with “Scar On The Sky”, one of my all-time favourites. From that point on, things just got better and better.
The setlist was impressive, there was everything you could ever ask for… Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog, Mother Love Bone, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, and of course, loads of tracks from his solo albums. It was flawless. At some point, Cornell said he was a bit tired of playing guitar and was going to take a break by singing over a piano track he had pressed on a vinyl record. He walked to the turntable that was sitting on one side of the stage, placed the needle on the black spinning circle he was talking about and proceeded to deliver the most beautiful version of “When I’m Down”, one of the songs from Euphoria Morning. It almost brought me to tears.
Then, just before the encore, he played a wicked version of “Blow Up The Upside World” that left everyone on their feet, drowned in utter joy. It was fantastic and unfortunately for you this video doesn’t make it any justice…
Setlist aside, there were 2 things that really impressed me about Cornell: a) the quality of his voice (I always thought he was very very good on records but I used to believe he didn’t really deliver live – I was so fuckin’ wrong) and b) his sense of humour. The guy is actually very funny and I think he could easily have a parallel career as a stand-up comedian, in a Henry Rollins kind of way. One bit I found highly amusing arrived when he said “people call me Sir sometimes too, and I didn’t pay shit”, referring to Paul McCartney being knighted Sir by the Queen of England because he paid loads of taxes. If you were there, you know what I’m talking about and you know it was very funny. For the rest of you who didn’t even smile when reading what I just said, forget about it and move on, you’ll never understand.
Actually, you know what? Let’s leave it like that for now. A massive, shiny, warm, yellow thingy has suddenly appeared in the sky and although I’m not very sure what it is, it certainly makes London look beautiful from my window.
I’m gonna have a look, I’ll be right back.