A rare and moving experience
Chris Cornell - Live At Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Clash felt extremely upper class walking through the double doors to take our seats for this performance. It wasn’t the place where you’d expect to find one of grunge’s biggest rock legends taking to the stage. The staff seemed to agree with this notion and as the room began to fill, it was debatable whether they expected this amount of “alternative” people. However, despite all these factors, Chris Cornell was playing at the Royal Symphony Hall and it was bound to be extremely memorable.

Paul Freeman was first to take to the stage. His music complimented Cornell’s perfectly as, like the main act, most of his performance focused around his acoustic guitar. The crowd cheered as Paul played an array of songs, including his new single ‘Go On’.

There was definitely a raw theme in the Royal Symphony Hall. Everything seemed stripped back, which may seem odd in such a grand venue, however this worked perfectly. It wasn’t about grand instruments or extravagant special effects, but pure, unadulterated talent on an extremely personal level.

As Paul left the stage it was time for the thirty minute interview before Cornell finally took his place. As many crowded around the bar outside, six different guitars were brought onto the stage, as well as a red telephone and vinyl player.

The crowd grew silent as the lights finally dimmed and no one other than Cornell took to the stage. It’s amazing how powerful one man and his guitar can be and even before Chris began playing, the audience were already going wild as he walked around the stage.

“Shit this place is big,” were the first words to come from the star’s mouth before he broke out into his first track of the evening: ‘Roads We Choose’.

You may not think that one man could play from quarter to nine, right up until eleven o’clock without needing a break or some kind of support, but this guy managed it and still kept in good humour.

Chris played an array of songs from many different stages in his career; from old hits like ‘Hunger Strike’ for fans of ‘Temple of the Dog’, to Soundgarden’s ‘Fell on Black Days’. Not to mention, solo tracks and Audioslave hits.

However, despite having a large back catalogue and successful career, Chris still seemed humble. His calm voice on stage settled many fans, silencing them between songs.

And it worked up towards the end of evening, as the beer flowed and fans began to get slightly louder and more excited, feeling comfortable enough shout requests. All of which he unquestioningly played.

The room definitely had a strange atmosphere; it was personal yet huge, calm yet rowdy. However you would describe it, those few hours were a rare and moving experience.

Chris Cornell is known by many different people at many different stages throughout his career and, in a way, tonight reflected all of these perfectly.

Words by Sophie Sparham

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