Opener: Craig Wedren
Old National Center—Egyptian Room
Opening for Chris Cornell is like trying to introduce someone who needs no introduction; and, well, the audience wasn’t so into Craig Wedren last night in the Egyptian Room. There was a lot of polite applause. He did use a dual mic/mixer to record and continuously play back certain beats while he sang and that was cool. But, most were eager to see Cornell.
The set change was fairly fast—Cornell took the stage and it was clear that the evening was going to be relaxed and easy to be a part of. He jumped around all night between his new solo album Songbook, Soundgarden songs, Audioslave songs and covers that he’s made famous in his own right. He opened with Nick Lowe’s “Peace, Love, and Understanding,” and followed it by his own, “As Hope and Promise Fade.” He talked a lot between songs, but in a way that seemed like he was chatting with a few friends. He mentioned that he lives in California now and is happy to be touring where it’s cold so that he has some idea what season it actually is. You believe this guy. Even when he’s joking about the weather, it’s like the most genuine small talk you’ve ever heard. He reinforced his character when a fan shouted a request to play “Sunshower” with him. Cornell took Eddie from Chicago up on the offer. It clearly wasn’t planned. And Eddie played the hell out of that song. In fact, it was an impressive rendition. As he took his seat, Cornell said, “Eddie’s got some huge balls.”
The crowd was less than rowdy, but clearly in love with Cornell. They were stoked to hear “Wide Awake” (Audioslave) and “Thank You” (Led Zeppelin). He seemed to be enjoying the crowd as much as they were enjoying him. When another person attempted to yell out a request, his mind went blank, and Cornell wrote and performed an improvised song about the mind going blank. This was one of those rare instances when the live performance far outshadowed any album. The mix was spot-on, mainly because Cornell’s career has been so impressive, and so varied.
No one wanted to see him walk away, but when he came back, his encore blew the night away: “Black Hole Sun” (Soundgarden), “Billie Jean” (Michael Jackson), “Photograph” (Ringo Starr). He rocked them all, and the audience adored him for it.