at Newcastle City Hall, U.K., June 20, 2012

CHRIS CORNELL (Live at Newcastle City Hall, U.K., June 20, 2012)
Photo: Mick Burgess

A couple of weeks ago Chris Cornell was on stage in front of 100,000 rabid Rock fans at the legendary Download Festival fronting his band, Soundgarden at their first show on UK soil in 15 years. In mid-July they return to headline the prestigious Hard Rock Calling festival in Hyde Park, London. In between these two gargantuan Rockfests, Cornell laid on half a dozen special one man acoustic shows in celebration of his critically acclaimed Songbook album with Newcastle being one of the lucky beneficiaries.

As it nears its centenary, The City Hall is the perfect place for a show like this. The legacy of the historical performances that have encapsulated audiences over the decades is imbued into the fabric of its ornate structure. With its elaborate interior and atmospheric setting and acoustics that many new venues can only dream about, this was destined to be a special night.

Stripped of any Rock baggage, Cornell was left with just his acoustic guitar and his voice and what a voice it was, so soulful, rich and emotive. Cornell is one of the finest singers of his generation and he just gets better with age.

Across the two and a quarter hour show Cornell dipped into his extensive catalogue delivering skeletal versions from Soundgarden (“Black Hole Sun”), the classic “Hunger Strike” from Temple of the Dog to” Wide Awake”, a startling observation about the impact of Hurricane Katrina by Audioslave, the super group collaboration he undertook with Rage Against The Machine.

Cornell’s own solo material shimmered with passion with “Can’t Change Me”, showcasing a delectable melody and haunting vocal. A couple of well-chosen covers from Led Zeppelin (“Thank You”) and The Beatles (“A Day in the Life”) slipped in seamlessly alongside his own songs.

Acoustic shows often have a nasty habit of running out of steam and can be a touch one dimensional in the wrong hands. Cornell, however avoided the trap with ease delivering a classy and inspiring set showcasing a different side of his talent to that shown in his day job. His amiable rapport and jocular banter was returned tenfold by the crowd, culminating with Ben from Newcastle joining him onstage for an unplanned “Outshined” and no-one, least of all Cornell was expecting such an accomplished duet with the Geordie fan. The rapturous reception he received at the City Hall will undoubtedly encourage a swift return to the region and with any luck, fronting Soundgarden.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.