Chris Cornell at the Beacon Theater, NY, NY
We were lucky to get tickets to an awesome show at New York’s classic Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side last night to see one of the icons of the grunge music scene, Chris Cornell. Of course, Chris was the front man for Soundgarden and then later Audioslave as well as, originally, Temple of the Dog in the early days of the Seattle music scene. He has done a lot of fantastic solo work as well and the concert was basically just him and a bunch of amped up acoustic guitars playing random stuff from throughout his career.
The Beacon is one of those old style theaters. It is beautiful and ornate with a sort of Roman theme. Lots of gold painted plaster work. Lots of red velvet drapery. The seats are kind of narrow – probably from a time when people were not super-sizing it as much. But the venue is small enough that basically any seat in the house is a good one with great acoustics. We had tickets in the back of the orchestra section which is under the overhang from the mezzanine above. Our seats were not bad and we got lucky that a few seats in front of us remained empty.
The theater was full of somewhat cleaned up and respectable loyal grunge scene gen x’ers – all grown up, chubbier and with less hair. There was drinking going on and some marijuana could be smelled in the bathroom, but overall, the crowd was extremely well behaved. There was no mosh style body slamming going on – sorry to disappoint! But it was interesting to look around and take stock in who the genre apparently catered to. A bit weird that it was largely a room full of white males some with their accompanying female dates. I’m not sure that I spotted a single brown or black person in the audience, but maybe I was just being sensitive. I’m not sure what that all means or how it reflects on me. But I really do genuinely enjoy the music…
After the warm up act Bhi Bhiman, Chris rolled onto the stage on a red bicycle that some kid from Canada had designed for him with decals of all his bands. He was quite proud of the bike. The stage was set up with several different guitars each with different tunings at the ready. There was also this random wooden coat tree on the stage –I’m really not sure why!
Chris literally sang for two and a half hours or so with no appreciable break. It was certainly a treat as he sang tune after great tune. His voice sounds perfect. At one point he sang Black Hole Sun and it could have been the studio version.
For added entertainment, we had a couple of drunk guys behind us that would randomly shout out “CC!!” or “Cornell!!!” or “Chris!!!” at the top of their lungs which would always make me chuckle. At one point Chris was talking about the ashes of Napoleon in Paris and the drunk guys start shouting “Napoleon!!!” and “Bonaparte!!!”. There was also this fan about 15 rows in front of us that kept standing up with his arms outstretched to the heavens and in a bit of a trance. Very funny.
So glad we were able to see it!
Some highlights of the setlist included:
Black Hole Sun
Fell on Black Days
Misery Chain from 12 years a slave
Sweet Sunshower from Great Expectations
Blow up the Outside World
Like a Stone