Live Review: Soundgarden — The Forum, Los Angeles
Tue, 26 Jul 2011 08:19:54
On a surprisingly brisk summer night at the Forum, a hallowed Los Angeles arena haunted by the ghosts of great Laker performances from the likes of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, another group of hall of famers came to resurrect ghosts of their own and exercise some demons as well.
Soundgarden, one of the greatest bands to ever push a distortion pedal, have returned after over a decade apart. The excitement and anticipation was palpable. Seemingly every fan burnished their best flannel in honor of the event, which appropriately (like the great attraction of the night) had come back in fashion.
Churning the crowd into a frenzy, Soundgarden turned their amps to eleven with their Superunknown (actually, it's quite well-known!) hit, "Spoonman." Following with "Jesus Christ Pose" kept the pandemonium intact. With the production and feel from the stage evoking their early work, the band lashed into album cuts that had everyone brandishing their bad moto-fingers into devil's horns, and raising them high.
As was clearly evident from the start, singer Chris Cornell proved his status as a freak of nature where his craft is concerned. After all these years, his voice sounded better than ever- and he wailed like it was 1994 all over again. He even looked like he stepped out of a time capsule, sinewy, tan with long brown locks and a face that time forgot. I think we can safely say that Cornell has made a deal with the devil: to sing beyond the realm of human possibility and to look good while doing it. No matter what the terms, I think the devil got a bad deal.
As the night progressed, the Sultans of Seattle brought out their classic tracks- "Blow Up the Outside World," "Pretty Noose," "Outshined," "Fell On Black Days," and of course, "Black Hole Sun." The band played with blinding precision, and exhibited a technicality and progressive element that should divorce them from ever have being called grunge. The band's musical performance wasn't the only entertainment; in between firing off some of the best hard rock songs ever written, Chris Cornell engaged the crowd with a dry wit you don't typically see from a rock legend.
After the band retired from the stage, the rabid South LA crowd wanted more from Chris Cornell and company- and the band gladly obliged. The encore featured some more mid-tempo cuts, and everyone walked away happy. Just for a night, Los Angeles could revel in the great things past, and experience them in the present. Now if we could just get to the future of Soundgarden, we'd be three for three.
Were you there?
See our recent review of Chris Cornell's solo tour here!