No, no, no: this is not a post about choosing my favorite concert of 2013 out of fifty concerts attended—for the simple reason that I’ve not attended a single rock concert this year. Not one. (However, I did attend an organ concert a couple of months ago, and it was stunning. But that’s another post.) The fact is, I am one of those pathetic souls (I’m only being half-self-deprecating) who owns some 60,000 songs and has been to very few concerts over the years. In fact, I’ve attended so few relative to my love for music that the one concert that really stands out to me is one I missed: Jeff Buckley in Portland, Oregon, on May 8, 1995. I thought of going, but it was on a Monday night, I had to work early the next morning, I was newly married (and my wife wasn’t a Buckley fan)—and then Buckley drowned two years later. Rock concerts that stand out for the right reason—that is, I actually attended them—include Seal (1994), Martin Sexton (three times), Brandi Carlile (three times), and Def Leppard (1988). I’ve never attended a true prog concert, which probably should get me kicked off of Progarchy.com.
However, I’ve had better luck with jazz—my favorite musical form, when push comes to shove—having seen Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Brad Mehldau (twice), Michael Brecker, Roy Hargrove, and Wayne Shorter in concert, all here in Eugene, Oregon, of all places. Eugene, the home of the University of Oregon (or Nike, if you will), does have some big names drop in on occasion—Elton John was here a couple of years ago, as was the Dali Lama, who did not sing—but not many. Portland is two hours away, but rarely has prog groups perform, as far as I know.
All of which to say that my concert of the year is going to be a solo Chris Cornell show in a couple of weeks at The Shedd, a wonderful and intimate venue (see here and here) all of five minutes from my house. And, yes, my wife is going with me, because she’s game for hearing Cornell with just an acoustic guitar; I doubt she’d go for a Soundgarden gig. This is Cornell’s second “Songbook” tour, and his performances on the first tour earned rave reviews, leading to the release of the “Songbook” album, which featured plenty of great Cornell tunes and some covers (“Imagine”, “Thank You”, and “Billie Jean” being favorites). Cornell is a triple threat: a great rock singer, a fabulous (if often under appreciated) songwriter, and a fine interpreter who likes to go into surprising territory at times, as his cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” demonstrates (he first played it about ten years ago in Sweden). Those who have read my, ahem, detailed review of Soundgarden’s “King Animal” know that I find Cornell’s lyrics to be particular fascinating. A good example of the lyrical prowess is evident in a little known but intriguing Cornell song, “Scar on the Sky” from his second solo album, “Carry On”. Meanwhile, I plan to write about the concert, which will likely be free of prog but still long on great music.
As I fall I leave this scar upon the sky
A simple note for you, I’ll wait for your reply
And in your answer I’ll regain my will to try
So hover in the diving light
We will rip the night
Out of the arms of the sun one more time
Close your eyes and we will fly
Above the clouded sky
And over the dumbstruck world we will run
In these hills they wash the golden grains away
To the valley under all of this I lay
And may you dig me out unearthed and saved