Soundgarden | 05.21.13

Everyone who had seen Cornell’s previous appearances recognized that this was an entirely different animal.

 

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It had been nearly 21 years since Soundgarden’s last St. Louis appearance at Lollapalooza 1992. They most likely could have sold out a much larger venue, given that their appearance at The Pageant were gone in under 10 minutes, but the reunited Soundgarden chose one of the best mid-sized clubs in America to finally reappear. They left no fan feeling left out, diving deep into their discography as well as covering a large portion of tracks off their 2012 release, King Animal.

Lead singer Chris Cornell has played The Pageant numerous times as a solo artist, perhaps leading to the band’s inclination to play the relatively small venue compared to larger theaters they have generally been selling out on this tour. Everyone who had seen Cornell’s previous appearances recognized that this was an entirely different animal.

From the opening track “Spoonman,” drummer Matt Cameron, guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Ben Shepherd surrounded Cornell with a sound that his talented solo backing band could not fully realize. Cameron is widely regarded as one of the top drummers in rock music, currently serving in that role for both Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. As soon as the band dove into Badmotorfinger track “Jesus Christ Pose,” Cameron’s presence was noted, and not forgotten the rest of the night.

The band would forego many new tracks for older rarities like “Blind Dogs,” which has been played a grand total of three times since its 1995 release on the soundtrack for The Basketball Diaries, a biography about author Jim Carroll. Cornell dove into memories of their days playing at Mississippi Nights before plunging into “Flower” and “Beyond the Wheel,” both of which they had delivered decades back at the now-defunct venue.

The band did not completely abandon the new album, however; in fact, it comprised roughly a fourth of the set, and tracks such as “Live to Rise” (off the Avengers soundtrack) and “Been Away Too Long” both proved to be crowd pleasers. “Taree” and “Blood on the Floor” fit in extremely well with the rest of the band’s largely grunge-metal set.

Notably missing from the list of singles played tonight was “Black Hole Sun”—though in the whirlwind of songs, no one honestly seemed to notice. All of the others were there, from “Burden in my Hand” to “Rusty Cage” and “Fell on Black Days.”

Soundgarden on this night leaned more toward metal than the oft-associated grunge label usually placed on the Seattle band whose sound was obviously affected by the ’90s. Still, the set list served to remind fans that Soundgarden’s ’90s output also included the hardcore punk stylings of “Ty Cobb.”

Altogether, the return of the band to St. Louis was incredibly warmly welcomed. Few comments were made by fans about Cornell’s sputtering solo career being the cause behind the reunion (and failed album with pop producer Timbaland), but three years in and one new album later seems to make this a genuine reunion the shine hasn’t quite worn off of just yet. | Bruce Matlock


Photos: Greg Artime

 


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