Chris Cornell live review – London Royal Albert Hall

Chris Cornell's ‘unplugged’ night hits the right notes.

Chris Cornell, live at the Royal Albert Hall
(Image: © Alison Clarke)

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Having dreamt throughout his Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple Of The Dog days of playing the Albert Hall, Chris Cornell’s entire Acoustic Higher Truth tour was arranged around tonight; a gnarly grunge hero playing a venerated concert hall virtually solo, covering Prince, Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, U2 and The Beatles’ most respected tunes – and tinkering with Dylan lyrics. The boy got balls.

Alone (bar the occasional cellist or keyboard player) before a rank of acoustic guitars, his covers are often staggering. Nothing Compares 2 U induces shivers, and the audacity of playing a funereal Billie Jean and U2’s One with the lyrics from Metallica’s identically titled tune about a suicidal land-mine amputee plants Cornell’s black tongue knowingly in his cheek. His rewrite of The Times They Are A-Changin’ worthily addresses days even darker than Dylan imagined, and Jimmy Page, sat in a low-tier box, is cajoled from his seat to share the applause for an impressive Thank You.

But when folking up his own material, Cornell seems born for the softer arts, whether sweetly rendering Josephine, his proposal song to his wife, turning Black Hole Sun into a Cote D’Azur girl-watching frippery or starkly tackling modern slavery (Misery Chain), and the Paris and Brussels attacks (Higher Truth).

He ends on his knees, hammering pedals to create a skyfall of psychedelic looped vocals, giving in to the noise in his soul.

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle.