Review: Soundgarden at Red Rocks, 7/18/11
With turrets of light bathing the stage in purple, the opening strains of "Searching With My Good Eye Closed" set the stage perfectly for the entrance of Soundgarden. It certainly felt like these guys believed in their music again, and as one of the band's best (and signature) songs came to a close, bassist Ben Shepherd held his instrument aloft while still laying down the deep grooves that are an often-overlooked element of the band's music.
Aaron Thackeray Chris Cornell's "Jesus Christ Pose."
Chris Cornell regularly engaged the audience with gracious and intentionally silly banter, including one part of the show where he got the crowd to scream so that he could hear the sound amplifying off the walls to the stage, commenting that it was trippy. "Jesus Christ Pose" seemed even more harrowing and scary-sounding than the original -- which seemed almost like a noise rock track on Badmotorfinger.
Aaron Thackeray Kim Thayil of Soundgarden
Thayil's guitar throughout seemed to have the ability to sear through in the upper registers while simultaneously ripping through the low end. Pretty much every song most fans of Soundgarden ever wanted to hear found a place in the 23-song set. And as the show went on, it seemed as though the guys were feeding off the energy of a crowd, who was very much into the show and seemed to know the words to every song, so much so that Cornell often held his mike to the audience during choruses.
Before performing "Big Dumb Sex," Cornell said the band had written to song to "make fun of the some of the same people who ended up liking it." Hilarious and true. Cameron's drum intro on "Rusty Cage" was so ferocious and heavy, it was almost hard to believe we were getting to see something like that -- and even more so when the whole band joined in. "Nothing To Say" was as impressively heavy as ever, and Soundgarden didn't skimp on the early material as the main set ended with the noisy and distorted "Beyond the Wheel."
Kicking off its encore with "Hunted Down," another early track, the band seemed to be very in-the-moment through to the end of its closing number, a frenzied and warped rendition of "Slaves and Bulldozers," which made the studio version seem tame by comparison with Thayil and Shepherd making a razory cacophony and drone to end the show with an incandescent sonic glow. Hopefully these guys realize this show felt like something special.
Click through for review of the Mars Volta, setlist and Critic's Notebook.