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Recap of Monday's neighboring concerts by Chris Cornell, Wolf Alice

Chris Cornell plugs in for Monday's unplugged set at the State Theatre.

Chris Cornell plugs in for Monday's unplugged set at the State Theatre.

Two noteworthy rock shows happened two blocks apart Monday night in Minneapolis, and one music critic did his best to assess them both. The timing worked out to catch the first 80 minutes of Chris Cornell’s solo acoustic gig and then only miss the first two songs of Wolf Alice’s hourlong set.


He started out talking about the weather – “I know you’ve got about four minutes of warm weather left,” he said – and would go on to discuss James Bond movies, record companies and his old lyric about “feeling Minnesota.” So the 51-year-old Seattle howler didn’t just peel off the thundering layers of his beloved band Soundgarden in Monday’s sold-out solo-acoustic performance, he also stripped away the rock-starry façade that often accompanies his gigs.

This was a folky, coffeehouse-ready singer/songwriter gig to the T, from his informal banter to his (wise) decision to throw in several covers, ranging from the so-obvious but so-perfect spin on Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You” to the surprise pick of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are-a-Changing,” which included new lyrics and even a little harmonica blowing. Cornell didn’t choose the latter tune just for Bob’s native state – he’s playing it every night on his tour – but he did throw in a discussion of Soundgarden’s “Outshined” lyrics to set it up (“I’m looking California, but feeling Minnesota”). The story was he wrote it one day while wearing shorts in Los Angeles -- “and I’m so skinny, I look ridiculous in shorts.”

“I thought it was one of the dumbest things I’d ever written, but I left it in,” he admitted. “And then it wound up being a movie title and everything.”

Minnesota was definitely feeling Cornell. Early in the show, one guy in the balcony let out a loud “[F---] yeah!” midway through his 2009 solo tune “As Hope & Promise Fade” after the singer launched into his first series of loud, bellowing high notes, and both Cornell and the rest of responded favorably to what was clearly “a moment.” There were plenty more of those during the first half of the set, also including the surprisingly tender “Let Your Eyes Wander” – one of several enhanced by cello from his lone onstage accomplice Brian Gibson – as well as the Bond movie theme “You Know My Name.” In the first half of the set, he only dropped in as many oldies as is seemingly required, but each also went over huge, including a cello-laden “Fell on Black Days” and looping-rigged “Blow Up the Outside World,” as well as an entirely solo rendition of Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike.”


I fully expected to come under frontwoman Ellie Roswell’s charms Monday night, what with her broad- ranging voice and ability to bounce from pretty to ugly at the drop of a fuzz pedal. The bigger, better surprise at her London-reared quartet’s second Twin Cities performance was just how tight and united the entire band is. It’s not just Roswell’s show.

Playing to about a three-quarters-full room, she and the rest of the band pulled off impressive musical change-ups and crescendoing moments throughout their hourlong set. They quickly bounced from the gorgeously burning single “Bros” to the sneering punk blast of “You’re a Germ” without any hitch, and then slowed things down without losing the crowd for the mellow mood-soaker “Soapy Water.” Best of all, their explosive guitar bursts and most manic parts hit like a Mack truck (or maybe a Mercedes truck, being British), particularly in “Lisbon” and the pre-encore finale “Giant Peach.”

Her bandmates look like a mish-mash of personalities as much as they sound like one: Bassist Theo Ellis looks and acts like he’s in some high-energy pop/punk band, drummer and co-vocalist Joel Amey has sort of a ‘70s Southern Californian look, and guitarist Jeff Oddie has more of an aloof concentration befitting a shoegazer band.

The encore itself hit home that the quartet is still relatively a baby band and doesn’t yet have enough strong material to fill out a headlining set, but they ended strong with “Moaning Lisa Smile.” A couple more albums and tours and this could be one of rock’s most exciting live bands.

Disney alum Selena Gomez announces Xcel concert

Selena Gomez performed at last year's American Music Awards. / Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Selena Gomez performed at last year's American Music Awards. / Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

As if the lineup announced yesterday for this year’s KDWB Jingle Ball didn’t promise enough Disney TV alumni singers at Xcel Energy Center in the coming months, St. Paul’s arena has now announced a new date with Selena Gomez for next summer, June 28.

Tickets go on sale next Saturday, Oct. 17, at 10 a.m. via Ticketmaster and the arena box office at prices to be announced (other comparable cities are selling in the $45-$99 range). The date comes a month and a half into her 2016 tour. Opening acts have not yet been announced.

Gomez is poised to shed her Disney-kid past for a bona-fide pop starlet future with Friday’s release of her new album, “Revival,” her first for industry big-wig Interscope Records after the end of her longtime deal with Disney’s Hollywood Records. Deluxe editions of the album will be on sale at Target stores, often a precursor to big sales.

Other newly announced concerts:

Harp-plucking singer/songwriter extraordinaire Joanna Newsom, whose first album in five years lands Oct. 23, will play a rare Twin Cities performance at the Fitzgerald Theater on Dec. 17. Tickets go on sale Friday at noon for $35-$50 via, the Fitzgerald Theater box office or by phone at 800-514-3849. The New York Times just ran a compelling profile of Newsom ahead of her long-awaited return.

Another acclaimed singer/songwriter we thankfully see a lot more often, Jason Isbell will come back around on Feb. 22 for his first local theater-sized headlining gig at Northrop Auditorium. This will be the former Drive-by Trucker’s local gig since the release of his new album “Something More Than Free,” though he played several of the tracks at the Basilica Block Party a week before the record’s release in July. Those tickets are all $40 and go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. via Northop’s in-house ticket system.

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