Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell is wrapping up his fall acoustic tour this weekend with a pair of shows in Atlantic City.
Cornell, who will perform on Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 30, at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, is earning strong notices for these solo “Songbook” performances.
The Boston Globe praised a recent show for being “a master class in the fine art of solo performance,” while the New York Daily News called a Town Hall concert “a drop dead great show” that revealed “both the full force, and the utter control, of (Cornell’s) singing.”
Although it’s become almost a cliche to say a singer is going unplugged, Cornell was inspired by the ‘90s TV series that helped coin the term — “MTV Unplugged.”
“‘Unplugged’ was almost always electric bands picking up acoustic instruments and plugging into something,” Cornell tells The Washington Post. “There were very few bands that were legit unplugged. One of the ones that stood out for me was Elton John’s. His ‘Unplugged,’ he came out, his hair was kind of silvery, he had a baseball hat on, he didn’t look like he was in a very good mood, and he played a ton of amazing songs.
“There’s something to that, to someone who can walk out and entertain a bunch of people whenever he feels like.”
Cornell is trying to evoke a similar free-form approach to his shows by working without a set list, while offering up more than dozen tracks from his work with Soundgarden and Audioslave, as well as solo output.
“It’s my opportunity to approach singing (my songs) differently and performing them differently,” he tells The Post. “There’s also a kind of about-face to what the performance is like compared to Soundgarden. It’s the opposite, it’s super-intimate and it’s quiet, and I can verbally communicate with literally a single audience member.”
Besides getting to show his musical range, Cornell also is revealing more of his personality, according to music critic Chuck Yarborough of The Plain Dealer.
“Along the way, we learned that in addition to being a more than adequate acoustic guitar player, Cornell is smart, funny and engaging,” Yarborough writes of a performance earlier this month in Lakewood, Ohio.
Without having the band on stage for inspiration, Cornell sees the audience as his live sounding board.
“(T)here are different disadvantages to doing a one-man show, the main one being you’re alone and you’re not collaborating with anyone,” he tells The Post. “So, it’s good to concentrate on the upsides, and one of them is audience communication and being able to play any song I want as soon as it occurs to me, or as soon as someone shouts it out.”