One of grunge’s most iconic bands are back. Soundgarden’s newest album King Animal sounds just like the Seattle rockers did twenty years ago, minus their decade long break. Their 2013 tour was sold out in most cities as people clamored to see the boys reunited on the stage once again after the release of the 2012 album.
Soundgarden burst onto the stage Friday night at Houston’s Bayou Music Center with no opening act, just a pulse-pounding jumpstart into one of their biggest hits, “Spoonman.” Led by one of rock music’s most impressive voices, Chris Cornell took a few songs to get warmed up but once he did, his vocals were as good as they ever were and enough to rattle this girl’s ears for half an hour after standing directly in front of a speaker for a few songs. Before the show even got started, a woman passed out in the audience and was helped over the barricade, which led one of the fans to quip, “Cornell must be in the audience!”
Cornell’s gravelly vocals throughout the show were electrifying and the way his iconic voice has held up through the years is truly impressive. His wail was at times relentless (“Jesus Christ Pose”), and at others haunting (“Taree”).
Iconic guitarist Kim Thayil was, as always, cool and unassuming, in his black t-shirt, long hair and beard, but in complete contrast to the overwhelming power and intensity of his fingers flying across the guitar. Bassist Ben Shepherd seemed to have an issue with his amp during “Jesus Christ Pose,” as he swung his guitar and then smacked a water bottle across the stage before getting right back into it.
The show pulled heavily from Soundgarden’s earlier works, especially the hugely popular Superunknown – the album that put the rockers on the map – and Down on the Upside, but their newest songs blended perfectly with the older hits. The highlights of the show were old favorites, “Black Hole Sun” and “Fell on Black Days,” as well as Cornell’s wail on “Jesus Christ Pose.” Off of King Animal, “Been Away Too Long” showcased Thayil’s incredible skill that’s so impressive to watch it is difficult to look away.
The show was generally dark and loud, as grunge has a tendency to be, and although the guys have gotten a little older and a little grayer, and so have the fans, they’re still more impressive than the up and coming rockers half their age. They’ve definitely “Been Away Too Long.” Let’s hope their back for the long haul.
Jesus Christ Pose
By Crooked Steps
Room a Thousand Years Wide
Been Away Too Long
The Day I Tried to Live
Fell on Black Days
Blow Up the Outside World
Burden in My Hand
Black Hole Sun
Non State Actor
Live to Rise