Friday night at the 9:30 club, Chris Cornell proved that good things do indeed come to those who wait. After spending two hours waiting to get inside and two more hours waiting for his act, his fans may have been skeptical that their hero would deliver the same sort of piercing performance he routinely gave as Soundgarden's lead singer. But an hour and 15 minutes later, little doubt remained that Cornell's solo career would be a promising one. The timbre of his music may be different, but the energy level was not.
This was the third show in his solo tour after performances in Boston and New York. Few people in the audience had heard his new material aside from the current single, "Can't Change Me," a defiantly cheerful angst-anthem with an infectious guitar riff. Cornell played it after his soundtrack effort "Sun Shower," defusing expectations that the performance would be a retrospective.
Cornell's new material is reminiscent of Soundgarden only in one respect: His voice leads the way. Like Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Cornell has a range that is nearly unfathomable, and it makes his work instantly recognizable. But a change in attitude is apparent: If his Soundgarden songs were bleak, dark and brooding, now they are bleak, dark and brooding with a crafty smile.
Still, for all the hubbub surrounding his forthcoming album, Cornell's finest moment was a retrospective one--his song "Seasons." In what was a past prophecy and a current reality, Cornell crooned, "I'm left behind, as the seasons roll on by." An old song about change left the crowd in a familiar kind of awe.