Chris Cornell Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON April 14

There’s a very good reason Chris Cornell is exalted in popular rock history as one of the greatest voices in music. The power, precision and passion with which he sang to the sold out crowd was an honest and profound testimony to his pre-eminence as a vocalist. In fact, he was so magnificent on this particular evening that even those questionable Audioslave songs sounded good. He started off on with a risky move, considering how vocally demanding the song can be, beginning his set with the Soundgarden classic "Spoonman.” Though initially shaky, he came out warmed up for nearly an hour and a half’s worth of material both new and old. Highlights of the night included surprises, namely "Seasons” from the Singles soundtrack, Temple of the Dog’s "Say Hello To Heaven,” and covers of Michael Jackson’s "Billie Jean” and Bob Marley’s "Redemption Song.” Surprisingly little attention was paid to other solo material, with only one song from Euphoria Morning and a couple from his upcoming album Carry On. He also performed the most popular Soundgarden singles like "Rusty Cage,” "Outshined,” "Fell on Black Days” and "Black Hole Sun.” Admittedly, it seemed almost sacrilegious to watch these songs without the musical stylings of his former band-mates. This was especially glaring during the solos where his current band’s guitarist exposed himself as being painfully inferior to Kim Thayil. Moreover, after a breathtaking two-and-a-half song acoustic interlude, one couldn’t help but wonder if this approach may be a more fitting course for his career. The simplicity of his unique and angelic voice alone with an acoustic guitar would be the perfect way to breathe new life into old songs and offset his shortcomings in manoeuvring the stage. Nitpicking aside, Cornell was at the top of his game for all those who longed to see him free of Tom Morello.