Monday 16 September 2013

Soundgarden Return As Kings

Singer Chris Cornell mentions Soundgarden didn't play here for a long time. Actually they played here last year at the Pinkpop festival. But he was right that their last headliner show was a while back, in 1996 to be exactly. You can't blame him for not remembering, at least I hope he doesn't, since that show was already showing the band was about to implode. Now they are back with a new album and already quite a few miles on the road.

Soundgarden at Heineken Music Hall Amsterdam, September 11 2013

Hopefully all those live shows have paid off. Not that they played a bad show at Pinkpop, not at all. But it was showing they had been a way for quite a while. The new song 'Been Away Too Long', tonight it is halfway the set, is quite appropriate. After Graveyard do a very good job warming up the crowd, right from the start it is clear the live shows have done them good. A thundering start with 'Searching With My Good Eye Closed', 'Jesus Christ Pose' and 'Spoonman', reveals the band is in great shape. Of course they have grown older. Guitarist Kim Thayil was never the most outgoing man on stage, he now seems to move even slower and his beard has turned grey. The heavy riffs and licks he's firing off from his guitar are as solid and powerful as ever.

Cornell may not be able to sing all those incredible high notes any more, but that man is in great shape and still one of the best rock singers around. He is looking more comfortable than I have seen him in a long time. Occasionally he puts his guitar down and moves around the stage from side to side. Forgotten and forgiven is the time I saw him play that horrible Scream record.

If I remember correctly drummer Matt Cameron was the one who persuaded the rest of the band to breath new live into Soundgarden. Pretty remarkable for someone who is also full-time in Pearl Jam. But seeing him play here, I can imagine why he wants this so badly. His grooves are so important to their music. The unusual time signatures, the slow and heavy grooves, the rolling fills. The songs are more complicated than in Pearl Jam and offer more of a challenge to a guy like Matt Cameron. As a rock drummer, Soundgarden must be heaven. Bass player Ben Shepherd hasn't changed much. He is walking around like a caged lion and is asking the most of his bass. At the end of the show the poor guitar draws the short straw when Shepherd smashes it to the ground and pours water on it.

In the set the focus is mainly on their most successful albums Badmotorfinger and Superunknown. Scattered in between are songs of the latest album King Animal. Familiar tracks like a smashing 'Outshined', a heavy grooving 'Fell On Black Days' and a tight 'My Wave' get the loudest response though. A big screen is showing visuals in the same style as the King Animal art work, which gives a nice and sometimes psychedelic effect.

After one and a half hour the band leaves the stage and is returning for a four song encore. They close up with a dizzying version of 'Rusty Cage' and a brutal 'Slaves & Bulldozers', that ends by the band members walking off stage one by one, leaving us with a deafening and screaming minute long wall of feedback. Even if this was a reunion tour to fatten their wallets, it looks like the band has found their old sparkle again in the process.

More Pictures

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01. Searching With My Good Eye Closed
02. Jesus Christ Pose
03. Spoonman
04. By Crooked Steps
05. Outshined
06. Loud Love
07. Non-State Actor
08. Superunknown
09. New Damage
10. Been Away Too Long
11. My Wave
12. Burden in My Hand
13. A Thousand Days Before
14. Fell on Black Days
15. Blow Up the Outside World
16. Never the Machine Forever
17. Mailman
18. Flower
19. Like Suicide
20. Rusty Cage
21. Slaves & Bulldozers

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