I know I have used this line before for another band but what the hell I am using it once again, “this is a hell of a week to be into the band Soundgarden”. Not only does the group have a new album called “King Animal” dropping tomorrow (or actually today since I am compiling thoughts about an event that happened only yesterday) but they are also doing a sold out show at Irving Plaza on Tuesday. Whew. If you are behind the times on this now legendary group, you best get those dollars out and start ordering up some music. Tonight I had the chance to enjoy a set of tunes by the band in the venerated Ed Sullivan Theatre where they would be doing a “Live On Letterman” concert. I’ve attended one of these webcasts for KISS and its amazing. Only a few hundred people get to be inside the live theater while the entire Internet gets to watch the webcast stream as it happens from their own home. Readers can click on the bands logo below to be taken to my full on concert report and the photo gallery but then come back here to leave us your thoughts on it if you watched and to enjoy some side images.
Venue: Ed Sullivan Theatre (New York, NY)
Label: Universal Republic
Written By: Ken Pierce (copyright 2012) for PiercingMetal.com
The first time that I experienced a “Live On Letterman” show was when the mighty KISS had come down to celebrate the 50th program of the series at the legendary Ed Sullivan Theatre and wow what a show that was. If you don’t yet know what “Live On Letterman” actually is, well, it’s a live webcast that takes the musical talent of today and lets a small audience of fan club winners enjoy the show while the rest of the world can watch along on their computer or mobile devices. It’s really a fantastic idea and I think that it makes great use of the Ed Sullivan Theatre based on the fashion that history really knew it for with those legendary shows from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors and many, many more.
With this awesome premise now heading straight to its next milestone it made sense to feature some true leaders of the “Seattle Sound” with Soundgarden. The band made a great impact with their “Badmotorfinger” album in 1991, but that was their third release and they had been around for a few years already by that time. Tonight the guys would be celebrating the upcoming release of “King Animal” which would hit the streets tomorrow and thanks to the powers of the Internet, millions of people would get to hear a sneak peak of the albums offerings. If you have never watched the “David Letterman Show” before, let me explain how its setup only holds about 600 people for shows like this so it was going to be very cool for those of us in the venue tonight. The stage setup is right in front of Dave’s desk and the band entered from the rear of the theatre to resounding applause. The interesting thing to observe was just how many cell phone displays went up as the band came in as opposed to the old days of just being hands or lighters. As Chris Cornell approached the microphone he said quick hellos and announced that “this first one is called Twist and Shout” in homage to The Beatles but of course the band would instead do their own song “Worse Dreams” from the new album. “By Crooked Steps” would follow and you could tell that Cornell didn’t lose an ounce of his vocal quality by the range and register that he was delivering tonight. Truly he has remained one of the best singers in the Hard Rock realm. My seat was over to his left so I had a great view of bassist Ben Sheperd and drummer Matt Cameron, but sadly Kim Thayil was way over to the opposite side. It made me feel good that I was not an attending guitar player who was looking to study any riffs this evening.
The bands third tune was “Incessant Mace” from their 1988 debut “Ultramega OK” and they would follow it with “Beyond The Wheel” making these two songs the oldest of the repertoire being delivered this evening. The tunes sounded great and have withstood the tests of time. Speaking personally, I got into the band during their “Louder Than Love” times and had hoped to hear just a little from that. Alas I would not, and nothing would come from their seminal “Badmotorfinger” either which was a bit of a shame. There was not a whole lot of talking going on during the show and I didn’t miss that since I would prefer the band kept on playing instead of jibber jabber and after these legacy classics had been done it was back to a delivery of four more tunes from the new release. Cornell made a quick joke about having new management and that David Letterman was now in charge of their activities. Onto the Garden next or something along those lines was chimed in by drummer Cameron. When the songs continued along I noticed how some of the folks around me were singing so I imagine that there had been some streams available to enjoy or maybe they were able to download the recording digitally when they purchased it.
Chris mentioned that he would be playing a little later on downtown for a benefit and how much the band loves NYC which was met with many applause and then it was on to “Fell On Black Daze” from their “Superunknown” album. This one surprised me when you consider how both “Spoonman” and “Black Hole Sun” come from this very same recording and are the obvious choices in terms of audience impact. Oh well. I am not going to argue. They would close out with another new tune in “Rowing” which is actually also the closing number on the new “King Animal” album. Sadly there would be no encore from the band and when it was done at the 55 minute mark it was done. As I just mentioned, from here, Cornell heads down to The Bowery Ballroom to do an acoustic set as a part of a Hurricane Sandy benefit and while the dude sitting next to me was convinced that it would be an acoustic Soundgarden set I had to disagree since I had not heard anything about it. I guess I will need to check Bravewords.com and Twitter at some point today to see if he was right and I was wrong. Clearly the show was geared at showcasing the new album and that is why we got seven songs from it out of the ten performed. The new stuff seems to continue along with the band’s sound and maybe there is a slight hint of Audioslave to it, but that makes sense since Chris had been working with that band until reuniting with Soundgarden. I think it is safe to say that the bands longtime fans and those new ones will be able to enjoy it equally. Tomorrow evening they play a full on set at Irving Plaza. That should be great and if I end up there to do my thing you can count on photos and a story right here. Let’s see what happens.
1. Worse Dreams
2. By Crooked Steps
3. Incessant Mace
4. Beyond The Wheel
6. A Thousand Days Before
7. Eyelid’s Mouth
8. Non-State Actor
9. Fell On Black Days
Here is the cool ticket that you get for this kind of event. At the end of the day it becomes something special to keep in your collection. I love having my ticket stubs and other things like this and think that its time to get that scrap book in order.
I couldn’t help but snap a shot of the screen above me as it showed an image of the theater from very long ago. Sadly I missed when it showed “Soundgarden” for a quick second. My readers know how much I love those marquee shots.
Here are some of the fan shots from around the theater.
Two of my illustrious supporters in The Metal Republic with Mr. Chris and Mr. Daniel. Thank you for the always positive interest in this site gentlemen. They were sitting right behind me which was pretty cool. There was also a girl with an awesome spiked up leather jacket but she vanished before I could snap a photo of that. Drats.
Be sure to check out the bands new album, the stuff sounds good and Cornell really puts it over the top. Sorry there are no other shots to share with you here but this is not your typical concert experience and doesn’t have those merchandise booth shots and other silly stuff we put here. Next time for sure as we hit a lot of shows for the site. Of course you know that already.
Soundgarden – www.soundgardenworld.com
CBS Live On Letterman – www.cbs.comliveonletterman