ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN
Downtown Pasadena was alive with St. Patrick’s Day Festivities on this, the opening night of “One Night with Janis Joplin.” The Shamrock and Roll Event, in beautiful old town Pasadena, included a free concert with the Shillaly Brothers, Cerny Brother, Aquarius, and the delightfully whacky Dread Zepplin. If you’ve never seen D.Z. they’re a Led Zepplin cover band that does the songs in reggae style with an Elvis impersonator on vocals, hilarious. Street vendors, a beer garden, and an art showing of Janis’s memorabilia, including her psychedelically painted 1965 Porsche gave the occasion a nostalgic vibe.
Mary Bridget Davies was spot on in her portrayal of the iconic singer right down to her infectious chuckle, uncanny resemblance, and hippie garb. Everything about this tribute rang true and was obviously a labor of love. Janis’s sister, Laura was instrumental on the intimate details of their early upbringing. According to her their mom always told them to “…support your tones…”
The fist part of the sonic journey found Janis seated stage right, in her Port ArthurTexas living room reminiscing about her mom introducing her to the music of the blues pioneers that inspired her enormously; Etta James, Nina Simone, Bessie Smith, Odetta, and Aretha.
Sabrina Elayne Carten. In a well constructed balancing act Janis (Davies) weaves a tale of her how the aforementioned performers influenced her and then, stage left, Sabrina Elayne Carten aka “Blues Singer” eloquently brought them to life. And so it goes for the entire performance. Carten’s version of “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess” produced goose bumps, thrilling the crowd, a sublime highlight to the evening’s magic.
The eight piece band, Stephen Flakus (guitar), Patrick Harry (bass), Tyler Evans (keyboards), Mitch Wilson (drums), David Milne (saxophone), Lee Thomburg (trumpet,flugelhorn,trombone), Pete Disiena (trumpet) and Ross Seligmand (band leader, guitar) were incredibly tight and brought just the right amount of rock polish. The Joplinaires, (Tricia Kelly, Shay Saint-Victor and Kimberly Yarbough the trio of backup singers helped fill Janis’s vocal runs with style and grace.
The one line that perhaps summed up the real Janis’s long and documented bouts with longing and loneliness was delivered by Davies in the second half, “I never met a man who could ever make me feel as good as an audience did.” Thankfully this show omitted any reference to her drug and alcohol use that led to her early demise on Oct 4th 1970 at the age of 27 of an accidental heroine overdose.
During the course of the 2 hour plus show Davies’s Janis brought out all of her favorite hits including; “Ball and Chain”, “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Piece of My Heart”, “Mercedes Benz”, “Cry Baby” and for the finale we get to hear “I’m Gonna Rock My Way to Heaven.” That song, penned by Jerry Ragovoy who also wrote “Piece of My Heart” was to be the next recording before her untimely death. The standing ovation showed how much the audience enjoyed the amazing performances that ended on an emotional high.
One Night with Janis Joplin plays Tuesdays through Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 4:00 and 8:00pm and Sundays at 2:00 and 7:00pm through April 21st at the historic Pasadena Playhouse 39 South El Molino Ave. Pasadena.
Check www.pasadenaplayhouse.org or 626 356 7529 for tickets.
You can also see the Janis Joplin’s Porsche on display through May 17th at the GRAMMYMuseum (http://www.grammymuseum.org), 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite A245, Los Angeles, CA
Soul survivor, Greg Allman, a name synonymous with many styles of music; southern rock, boogie rock, jam, and blues. 40 plus years of writing and touring have earned him a musical resume that is both memorable and meaningful. After conquering some health issues last year that included a liver transplant and weathering well documented personal tragedy and band turmoil Allman seemed road ready and happy to be tickling the keys for an appreciative audience.
Tonight’s Royce Hall performance is part of a California/Nevada trek that will include San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Napa, and Lake Tahoe. He wasted no time getting the crowd’s attention opening with “I’m No Angel” from 1987.
It was obvious this scaled down affair was not an attempt at Allman Brothers Band intensity as he gave some of the older material new arrangements and a mellower tempo. I’m happy to report his crusty growl is firmly intact as he alternated from back and forth from guitar and his hammond B 3 organ. Arguably one of the best white blues vocalists still kickin, he was well respected and well received even getting a shout out from the back of the hall, “You sound sweet Greg.”
Allman offered up a mixed bag of material; about one third of the 19 song set was ABB material including “Statesboro Blues”, “Melissa”, and “Whipping Post.” The current band features Scott Sharrard on guitar, Bruce Katz on keys, Jay Collins on horns, Steve Potts on drums, Jerry Jemmott on bass and Floyd Miles on percussion and vocals, and the 2-hour set was a group effort from start to finish.
Floyd Miles, who Allman has “played with since he was 14” took the band through the blues flavors of Muddy Waters “I Can’t Be Satisfied” and two from his 1994 release, “Back to Daytona”. Allman’s daughter Layla held her own on a cover of Elmore James’ “The Sky is Crying” and Dad dug a little deeper swapping vocals with his daughter.
The cuts off his T-Bone Burnett produced “Low Country Blues” from 2012 “Tears.Tears.Tears”,”Can’t Be Satisfied”, and “Floating Bridge”, held up favorably with the other selections and showed some of Allman’s strongest song writing of his career. Surprise guest Tal Wilkenfeld joined Allman’s talented band on bass for one of the evening’s highpoints on “Just Before the Bullets Fly”. The 26 year old Australian prodigy has demonstrated her amazing talents with both Jeff Beck and Chick Corea.
Mr. Allman has also joined the ranks of fellow rockers like Keith Richards, Pete Townsend, Sammy Hagar, Neil Young, and other notables writing memoirs of his colorful life and times. “Not My Cross to Bear”, also released last year, finds the aging songster sharing internal reflections and creative insights behind the curtain of rock stardom. Hats off to Allman for bringing the blues to life as he has lived them giving the evening’s performance unparalleled credibility and poignance.
It’s not surprising that Universal Hollywood puts on the scariest, most bloodcurdling Halloween extravaganza of all the theme parks in so cal, after all they brought Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and Phantom of the Opera among other iconic monsters to the big screen, scaring the daylights out of generations for decades.
This year creative director, John Murdy, has raised the bar, unleashing a vast cast of “scareactors” on those thrill seekers who are looking to experience a frighteningly real world of zombies, killer clowns, crazy homicidal maniacs, and a host of freaks, beasts, and creatures of the night. Murdy explains; “We wanted to break new ground with the insanely immersive ‘Alice Cooper Goes to Hell 3D’ maze and elevate its journey into the abyss to a shocking new level.
The cutting-edge 3D technology we invented for this haunted attraction will add a palatable sense of realism to an already twisted environment that only music genius Alice Cooper could envision. Through innovative sets and LED technology, we’ve totally pushed the envelope to turn Alice’s maze into a mind-blowing 3D experience for his fans and Halloween Horror Nights guests.”
Upon entering the park we were greeted by a slew of chainsaw toting freak-a-zoids, threatening our lives as they appear out of the fog and scrape the ground kicking up sparks with their prop saws. This was opening night and the level of threatening interaction on the part of the “scareactors” was turned up to 11. You could not walk very far before you were accosted by yet another kind of demonic character mocking dreadful advances. There are 6 terror mazes offered at H.H.N.
Based on Alice Cooper’s concept album, “Alice Cooper Goes to Hell” this 3-D attraction was our first on our list due to the positive word of mouth and it did not disappoint. Alice obviously has quite the imagination, the 3-D effects of relentless torment were at times disturbingly gruesome with lot’s of human and inhuman entrails. “…into the abyss…” Indeed!
A few things I really liked about this maze was it’s attention to detail, the frightful reaction/screams with the other (non undead park attendees) inside, and how long it lasted. Had we not run out of time by the end of the evening we would have taken that trip to hell again, it’s that cool.
Next maze on the list was “The Walking Dead: Dead Inside” inspired by the critically acclaimed, Golden Globe nominated, Emmy Award winning AMC T.V. series, where hordes of predatory zombie “walkers” in a post-apocalyptic wasteland are seen relentlessly gnawing on any human beings unlucky enough to be within their grasp. Don’t get too close or you might be the ghoul’s next meal.
The zombie’s make up, showing various stages of decomposition and mortification of the flesh was remarkable. “Terror Tram: Invaded by the Walking Dead” on the backlot offered up swarms of flesh-eating, blood-drooling walkers lurking about, seeking human prey, exposing park guests to another level of the cataclysmic plague that caused the dead to reanimate.
The demented multiverse of the popular horror video game and motion picture franchise “Silent Hill” comes to life in the dark and twisted “Welcome to Silent Hill” maze, filled with horrifying creatures borne from an alternate dimension. The highly anticipated film sequel, “Silent Hill: Revalation 3-D” will open nationwide October 26th 2012.
“La Llorana: Cazadora de Ninos” or “Weeping Woman: The Child Hunter” the fearful story of melancholia and murder that has terrified Mexican and Latin American children for generations returns to H.H.N. recounting the tortured tale of a mother who drowns her children in a desperate attempt to win a lost love. This maze is a encore from last year’s successful run.
Most of us are familiar with the tragic and demented exploits of Leatherface and his deranged family of cannibals. This year “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Saw is the Law” maze, based on film maker Tobe Hooper’s notoriously unsettling horror classic from 1974 taunted patrons into a deadly trap. The slaughterhouse themed maze is filled with vivid telltale signs of imminent doom.
Stumbling upon the “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Stage Show” was just a case of dumb luck. It was an amazing amalgamation of pop culture satire that was edgy, funny, risque, and ultimately entertaining. Taking pot shots at everything from the current presidential race, bubble gum band One Direction, Jersey Shore, Hunger Games, Madonna, Magic Mike, Dark Knight and more the acrobatic dancing and schtick were top notch.
The last maze we visited was the “Universal Monsters Remix” which pays homage to the classic horror icons of yesteryear. Set within the twisted confines of the inner chambers of a gothic castle it incorporates thumping, modern electronica music for an unusual combination that blends the two favorably. The vintage horror movie theater posters near the entrance were a reminder of Universal Pictures rich history with the genre. The experience was impressive and we will look forward to next year’s frightful innovations.
WINTER N.AM.M. CONVENTION 2012
Once again the Anaheim Convention Center was the site of the National Association of Music Merchants; a showcase for manufacturers and retailers to check out the next wave of innovative products and technology, schmooze prospective customers, and party hardy. This industry only affair deals with every imaginable musical instrument, accessory, and service the vast trade has to offer from Aria Guitars to Zildjian cymbals and everything in between.
Founded in 1901 NAMM has been the driving force enabling business to maximize productivity and reduce costs. With over 5,000 members in the U.S. and over 50 different countries it is truly a global market place conducting research to make the world a more musical place.
In addition to products and services NAMM is an avenue for lengthy panel discussions, marketing strategies, and a wide variety of topics; including retail theft control, the burgeoning soft-ware market, and global trends for the 21st century.
A couple of the more interesting strategies explored were ways to monetize your Facebook page and “Surviving Tough Times” also offered valuable insight. A new app for smart phones/iPads allows convention attendees to find specific companies’ booths helping to navigate the enormous halls with ease. On the whimsical side of innovation a www.guitardoorbell has invented a device that mounts a guitar over any door way and strums it with every swing of the door, price $129.
This is all well and good but the real entertaining aspect of NAMM begins after sundown when the days business ends and transforms the 3 hotels and various venues in close proximity into mini-festivals and extended jam sessions.This year was no different offering a staggering amount of world class musicians performing in relatively small venues and a festive, relaxed atmosphere.
Thursday night Sharon Osbourne and Cory Taylor hosted the First Annual Rock and Roll Roast skewering Zakk Wylde for an evening of friendly jabbling and tasteless humor along with comics Brian Posehn, Jim Norton and musicians Scott Ian and Duff McKagan. This event was sponsored by Guitar World Magazine and they hope this will become an annual event.
Friday night the main lobby stage sported a lively All-Star Jam with Alan Fischer of Heart, Micky Dolenz of the Monkees. Chris Slade , AC/DC. Alan White, Yes, Robin McCauly MSG, Rudy Sarzo , Quiet Riot among many others, playing classic rock tunes from Ronnie James Dio, Ozzy and Black Sabbath.
Dean Guitars sponsored a show at the Grove with Wayne Static, Vinnie Moore, Jackyl, and Testament providing a evening of diverse, foot stomping fun to a very packed house of appreciative music fans. Yes, Jackyl busted out the chainsaw for their hit “The Lumberjack.”
On Saturday night the Ernie Ball 50th Anniversary bash was the place to be as Steve Vai, Steve Morse, Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big-Racer-X), American Idol’s Randy Jackson, and Bobby Larue treated hungry ears to a phenomenal medley of Led Zepplin’s “What is and What Should Never Be”, “Black Dog”, and “How Many More Times.” The Grove also hosted Schecter Guitar Research’s 10th Anniversary NAMM Party with nu-metal/alt acts Filter and seether.
One thing that was evident at each of the NAMM hoe-downs was the musicians sense of community and sheer joy of playing for their peers. It was this aspect that brought the musicianship up a notch and made the performances memorable.
As we traversed the sprawling convention center it’s not uncommon to brush elbows with rock royalty as they too are eager to see all the latest gear and meet and greet their fans. Some of the notables we ran across included Tre Coo, drummer for Green Day, Rob Halford, Vinnie Paul, Carmine and Vinnie Appice, George Lynch, Billy Sheehan, Rudy Sarzo, Jackson Brown, Lita Ford, Kenny Loggins, Eric Johnson, Sheila E, and we even caught a glimpse of Stevie Wonder.
This is truly Disneyland for music fans and it always delivers a informative, entertaining, and visionary experience. Special thanks to Jeanne at the Lippin Group for granting us media coverage to this truly amazingly colossal event. We are already looking forward to seeing the technological advancements sure to surface next year. Many of this years aforementioned performances are available for viewing on Youtube.
GUNS AND ROSES @ THE FABULOUS FORUM 12-21-11
Love em or hate em, Axl Rose, the perennially late, tantrum throwing front man for 80′s iconic rock juggernaut Guns and Roses brought his A-Game to the Forum on this leg of their Chinese Democracy Tour.
Having pounded shots of gold tequila on occasion with Axl, Slash, and the rest of the band at the legendary rock club, The Cat House on Highland in the months before “Appetite for Destruction” shook the world in 1985, I witnessed their trajectory skyrocket, soar, plateau, and ultimately implode along with rock fans everywhere. Since they were local boys I tried to see them as often possible.
Six times I caught the gunners in the mid to late 80′s and while sometimes they were an incredibly powerful specimen of metal fury they had a penchant for shooting themselves in the foot too. I love loud clean rock but one show, circa ’87 at Perkins Palace in Pasadena the sound was so distorted and the band so impaired I actually had to leave half way through (it was that bad.)
Then there was the Rip Magazine show at the Hollywood Palladium in ’88 where they didn’t hit the stage until 2am but showed why they became one of the biggest, baddest bands ever to plug in, treating die hards to a face melting set of molten metal histrionics that didn’t end until almost dawn.
Ok, that was then, this is now.
Honestly, I couldn’t get too excited about the release of Chinese Democracy back in ’09 after all the delays and bad word of mouth and thought Axl’s termination of Slash was an egomaniacal blunder. I still think firing Slash is the equivalent of Mick Jagger firing Keith Richards being the heart and soul of their respective bands. So, admittedly I attended this G n R show with a bit of a chip on my shoulder and was curious if the “New” G n R could bring the fire…
At first listen my intuition seemed right on. Opening up with “Chinese Democracy” it was obvious there were some audio problems with Axl’s vocals thru the p.a., very muddied and buried by the guitar mix. This sent Mr. Rose slipping back behind the Marshall stacks trying to fix the problem with the sound crew. The second song ‘Welcome to the Jungle” seemed rushed, muffled, and stiff. I was sitting there incredulous, how could this be? Sitting a rock show is a sure sign of a lack lustre performance.
As the show pressed on It became obvious Axl was getting frustrated and pissed off, repeatedly retreating back stage trying to resolve the sound debacle. After 6 or 7 songs I was so uninspired and disappointed I just sat back half expecting him to storm off in a rage. Sad to say it almost sounded like he was lip syncing. Unthinkable!
Thankfully, somebody somewhere flipped a switch or patched a cord and suddenly his signature vocals were cutting thru the environs of the Forum like a hawk swooping thru the night air seeking prey. It was time to get out of my seat, stand up and get involved on what was shaking/taking place on the stage. A now relaxed Axl focused in on what he does best, even taking time to thank the fans before sitting down at the grand piano for an unaccompanied, pristine “November Rain.”
Since I pretty much wrote off the “New” G n R for all the aforementioned reasons I wasn’t familiar with the various current members. As the night wore on it was evident there was a lot of extraordinary talent stalking the stage. With 3 lead guitarists one might think “too many chefs?” but D.J. Ashba, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, and ex-NIN guitarist Richard Fortus each brought different sonic spices to their moments in the spotlight.
Fortus demonstrated his refined axemanship covering the timeless James Bond theme with a metal edge. Bumblefoot treated the crowd to a heavy version of the Pink Panther theme with frenzied fretboard fireworks galore and Ashba checked the tatted, pretty boy guitar hero box aptly, constantly moving about the stage, flicking picks to the rabid fans. Each one of these hombres complemented each other, never stepping on one another’s solos, showcasing their own nimble style and technique.
Their stage show was typical arena rock excess, lots of sexy imagery on the jumbotron and plenty of pyrotechnics. What started out weak and lame was remarkably redeemed as the hits started flowing hot and heavy with scorching versions of “You Could Be Mine”, “Rocket Queen”, “Live and Let Die”, “Sweet Child of Mine”, “”. The band finally left the stage at 2am after 3 hours of non stop rockin’. Axl’s parting shot was; “I want to thank each and every one of you fuckers who came out tonight and don’t take any shit from anybody.”
The ensuing after party at the Forum Club was a lavish affair complete with buffet, open bar, pool table, d.j. (Scott Kirkland of the Crystal Method no less) spinning magic and a plethora of porn stars, strippers, scenesters, and most of the band. Mr. Rose, himself was a no show.
Say what you want about Axl and his new gang of droogs but his place in rock music history is indisputable. putting on an exceptionally incendiary performance, sending the fans homes thoroughly rocked, satisfied, and smiling. It should be interesting to see what happens later this year when GnR is inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.
Welcome to the Jungle
It’s So Easy
Richard Fortus Guitar Solo
(James Bond Theme)
Live and Let Die
(Paul McCartney & Wings cover)
This I Love
(Tommy Stinson song) (Tommy Stinson on lead vocals, with Band Introductions)
Dizzy Reed Piano Solo
Street of Dreams
You Could Be Mine
DJ Ashba Guitar Solo
(Ballad of Death)
Sweet Child O’ Mine
(Another Brick In The Wall: Part 2)
Axl Rose Piano Solo
(Gran Torino/Goodbye Yellow … more)
Bumblefoot Guitar Solo
(Pink Panther Theme)
Whole Lotta Rosie
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
(Bob Dylan cover)
(Axl wishes a merry christmas … more)
(Frank Sinatra song)
Fiercely hard-charging, Sensory Overdrive immediately detonates with track one “Trick of the Wrist” blasting a swath of sPunk infused rock a mile wide. Track two “78″ keeps the party rollin’ with an almost anthemic chorus of “Hey-Heys” that begs the listener to raise a clenched fist and join in.
The rollicking momentum doesn’t let up until track nine with “Gone Baby Gone” when guest vocalist Lucinda Williams slows things down lending her smoky harmonies to a decidedly pensive tune with a country twang. Standout tracks “Modern Day Miracle” for it’s hook heavy licks and “Bombs Away” for it’s wicked harmonica flourishes.
Mister Monroe’s illustrious rocker credentials as the multi-talented and influential front man for Hanoi Rocks have all led up to this record, a tour de force of guitar fury, whip smart lyrics, his legendary vocals and incomparable delivery.
Surrounded by equally seasoned players his all star band consists of Ginger ( The Wildhearts), ex-New York Dolls guitarist, Steve Conte, ex-Hanoi Rocks bassist, Sami Yaffa, and drummer Karl Rosqvist ( aka Rockfist). Motorhead’s own Lemmy contributes vocals on the appropriately titled “Debauchery as Fine Art.”
A running theme seems to yearn for daze gone by (“’78″ & “Supercharged Superfly”) and the sound embraces late ’70′s rock’s remarkably well. The result is a uber satisfying bit of sonic, hard rock ear candy guaranteed to gratify the most discerning. Winning! M.Monroe will be playing the Whiskey on Sunset Strip Thurs. Oct 20th. For more info check michaelmonroe.com
BY WILLIAM DERHAM
Riffmeister extraordinaire, Ronnie Montrose, touched down with his current national tour at the intimate, user friendly Canyon Club to melt faces and explode heads with his unique guitar pyrotechnics. In his long and illustrious career, Ronnie honed his skills playing with a diverse array of artists including Van Morrison, Gary Wright, and the Edgar Winter Group, just to name a few. In 1973 he formed his own self titled band creating a slew of all American hard rockin’ radio staples that have stood the test of time with their combination of lighting power chords and scorching vocals courtesy of a then unknown young vocalist named Sammy Hagar.
Obviously delighted to be back on stage, wielding his signature Les Paul guitar, after a 2 yr. battle with prostate cancer, he fed off the abundant energy emanating from the enthusiastic crowd. Opening the set with the incendiary “Rock the Nation” he tore through his back pages of visceral hits weaving a sonic tapestry of foot stomping, fist pumping fury.
Always pushing the creative envelope Montrose took a detour from rock in ’78 exploring a jazzier, instrumental approach with albums like “Open Fire” and “Territory”, thankfully he has chosen to return to his roots and give the fans the music they’ve been begging for . His influence in the annals of American rock are indelible and undeniable. The legendary guitarist continues to bring his unparalleled style across the country. He will be back to so. cal in Nov. playing in Corona. Check ronniemontrose.com for details. P.S. Thanks to Coach Bill for help with the set list and photo.
ROCK THE NATION
I GOT THE FIRE
ONE THING ON MY MIND
MAKE IT LAST
20 FLIGHT ROCK
I DON’T WANT IT
SPACE STATION #5
BAD MOTOR SCOOTER
GOOD ROCKIN’ TONIGHT
LYKKE LI @ THE GREEK THEATER 8-3-11 BY WILLIAM DERHAM
Sexy, sultry, and sad. Swedish chanteuse and current “It” girl, Lykke Li played pied piper to the restless “Twilight” generation of romantic idealists and the intense yearnings of young adulthood. Touring in support of her sophomore release, “Wounded Rhymes”, Li captivated the mostly female crowd, eager to share her delicious desperation. Taking the stage amid a barrage of staccato strobe lights and swirling clouds of dry ice fog, L.L., draped in layers of black garb cavorted about with reckless abandon, taking full advantage of the summer evening’s intoxicating allure.
L.A.’s Greek Theater is a crown jewel of music venues nestled in the canyons of Griffith Park and she stated; “Tonight is a special night… playing here for the first time.” Li and her five piece band hop scotched easily between songs from her poppier debut, “Youth Novels” and the more austere, tribal “Wounded Rhymes.” For many of the songs she picked up a pair of drumsticks, banging on various drums, cymbals, her microphone stand, and what ever came across her path to punctuate her emotional urgency. Commanding the stage and feeding off the energy of her adoring crowd of followers, Li proved to be a compelling performer, part star, part anti-star. Highlights of tonight’s show were “Please Stay” and the provocative “Get Some.” Proving risks sometimes pay off in a big way this 24 yr old who moved to NYC from Sweden when she was 19, not knowing a soul, with no money, hit the big time after playing SXSW in Austin.
In her interviews she states that she has used her “hustler” mentality to break the mold for success in the music industry and made up her own set of rules. The bewitching Lykke Li and her rapidly rising stardom will be an interesting trajectory to observe. Setlist: Jerome I’m Good, I’m Gone I Follow Rivers Silent My Song Dance Dance Dance Please Stay I Know Places Little Bit Love Out Of Lust Rich Kid Blues/Silent Shout (The Knife cover) Until We Bleed (Kleerup cover) Youth Knows No Pain Get Some Encore: Possibility Unrequited Love.
BY WILLIAM DERHAM
A welcome return to form for one of the 90′s grunge movement’s more memorable, hard charging outfits, as Soundgarden brought the thunder to El Lay’s Forum. Deftly blending heavy rock riffs with hardcore punk and indie rock undertones, tonight they proved themselves worthy. The capacity crowd of ardent fans were oozing with enthusiasm that filled the arena like reefer smoke in Willie Nelson’s tour bus. The last time they performed as Soundgarden was 1996. Since then the various members spent time in other bands; vocalist, Chris Cornell infused his signature wail with Audioslave for a stint that lasted six years and three respectable albums, “Audioslave” , “Out of Exile”, and “Revelation.” Powerhouse Matt Cameron moved into the drummer’s slot for fellow Seattle rockers Pearl Jam, and guitarist Kim Thayil’s collaboration with Boris and Sunn proved to be a metal head’s wet dream.
Fast forward to 2011 and their well timed reunion finds the newly recharged Soundgarden, with all members intact, still knowing how to stand and deliver their psychedelic tinged metal with vigor and precision like only seasoned pros can. Opening with a barrage of familiar, heavy classics: “Searching with My Good Eye Open”, “Spoonman”, “Gun”, and “Jesus Christ Pose”, the band summoned their collective might, dishing out crushing power chords, aggressive, depth charge bass riffs, and pummeling drum flourishes. The long awaited and highly anticipated reunion brought out a who’s who of rock’s heavy hitters including Marilyn Manson, Juliet Lewis, Heart’s Nancy Wilson, Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures), and Dominic Howard (Muse) to witness the staggering force this band emits.
Pulling material from their entire back catalogue of five stellar albums they treated the audience to both familiar radio hits and deep tracks for the real, die hard Soundgardeners like “Ugly Truth” and “Fourth of July. ” Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready came out to lend his guitar shredentials on “Superunknown” and brought the engaged crowd to an even higher level of frenzy. Since there are all too few new metal/rock bands capable of creating the energy and explosiveness of Soundgarden their return to claim past glories is all the more satisfying. Even more promising is the prospect of new music from Seattle’s finest, with rumors floating about them having plenty of new material to record in the near future. If tonight’s performance of the newly penned “Black Rain” from the S.G. compilation “Telephantasm” is any indication of what’s in store we can expect more inspired sonic swagger from these iconic veterans.
After the last song of the four song encore “Slaves & Bulldozers” we staggered to the after party at the Forum Club basking in the amplified afterglow of an exceptionally gratifying display of superb talent and raw power. Turns out it was lead screecher Chris Cornell’s 47th birthday and the V.I.P. area was transformed into an impromptu bash to celebrate with friends, family, and crew. That party proved to be quite the celeb fest as all current members of Alice in Chains and Foo Fighters joined by actor Josh Brolin held court with Cornell. They were eager to pay their respects to Soundgarden for reigniting metal music’s unforgettable fire, being viable and relevant nearly two decades later. Not bad for a band named after a noisy pipe sculpture in a Seattle park.
★ Setlist ★ Searching with My Good Eye Open Spoonman Gun Jesus Chris Pose Room a Thousand Years Wide Blow Up the Outside World Loud Love Big Dumb Sex Ugly Truth Fell on Black Days Flower Outshined Black Rain Rusty Cage The Day I Tried to Live My Wave Burden in My Hand Black Hole Sun Head Down Superunknown (with Mike McCready) 4th of July ★ Encore ★ Beyond the Wheel Hunted Down Mailman Slaves & Bulldozers