Chris Cornell @ O2 Academy, 15 June
“I’m only here for the Timbaland era,” barks a man in the Academy's gents room. A dozen patrons lining the urinal shoot the perpetrator a baffled look while a guy on the end chuckles away. Chris Cornell’s 2009 collaboration with the R&B über-producer was a bold evolution at best, but with the singer since taking his solo career back to basics while exhuming the incendiary band he made his name with, Scream has become a critically maligned moment he quickly walked away from.
Having already witnessed the enduring 90s rock god strip paint from the walls with Soundgarden twice in the week prior to this particular gig, tonight his acoustic performance is often heavy in itself. Wearing formative influences on his sleeve from the outset, a roaring turn at one of Syd Barrett's laments (Dark Globe) nestles alongside faithful odes to Led Zeppelin (Thank You), The Beatles (You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away) and a sedate trundle over Billie Jean.
Moments from his own catalogue emerge as dazzling highlights when the full extent of that voice is unleashed for a back-to-back trio of Wooden Jesus, Call Me A Dog and Hunger Strike – poignantly underlining the bottled lightning that was Temple of the Dog.
Elsewhere, stadium rock adventures from the Audioslave vault – like Be Yourself and Doesn't Remind Me – are balanced by the ever-gloomy Fell On Black Days and a heroic, unplugged stab at stoner anthem Outshined. When I'm Down becomes a tribute to the late Natasha Shneider as Cornell, accompanied by a crackling record which plays her waltzing piano part, comfortably delivers the song like a bluesy torch singer.
With the turntable still spinning, he even throws in the title track from the album those boys in the bogs can't abide. The versatility goes down well, but – as he follows up a raucous interpretation of A Day in the Life by signing off with Imagine – the bevy of covers becomes a slight detour from the nooks of his Songbook he could have explored further.