I was in KL for Hari Raya in 2010 when I picked this up at Kino:

Prior to that was the tweet from Chris Cornell regarding The Knights of the Soundtable being back after all these years. Many thought it was the band coming back together although the KotS was actually the fan club, and Cornell’s tweet merely alluded to the band making their online presence known so as to promote their back catalogue, with the help of the people behind Ten Club. But then that Showbox show happened in April 2010 (under the monicker Nudedragons) and that led to a flurry of dates including Lollapalooza (dang this sounds like I’m typing this in 1992) and ultimately a new record which came out early last month.

And then the band decided to play a few select dates at small venue in Europe and the ‘States, and of course this included London a few days before the official release of the new record. Buying a deluxe edition of the record on the Universal website allowed me to snag two tickets for Jimbo and myself at the pre-sale. And it was the fastest one ever (unlike getting them for this summer’s Pearl Jam shows) as it turned out it was only open for people with UK addresses. Bonus! Fans being fans, it wasn’t long before some industrious soul was emailing muat turun links to the new record (320 kbps oo) which helped me in some way to recognise the new tunes.

The Shepherd’s Bush Empire was the venue where Soundgarden played 16 years when it first re-opened. It is a music hall that was built in the early 1900’s and has a 2000-person capacity, talk about this being an intimate show. We arrived early and I got myself a tee (would’ve loved an Ames Bros-type design though) and two limited edition posters (one for Fake). The poster had limited run of 50 but, man, did it cost a bomb! There was no opening act and we were smack bang in the middle after meeting up with Unte and Adrianna, just 5 rows away from the stage. But not for long.

We were telling ourselves that fans of the grunge era are now mainly in their mid-40s, yours truly included (OK, I am early 40s but I digress). So, no way will we get a bunch of crowd surfers in their ankle-high Doc Marts and tie-dyed tees throughout this show. They got onstage in a very relaxed manner at like quarter to nine, and kicked off the set with the aptly titled Been Away Too Long, which was what I’d hoped (predictable, right). And within 5 minutes, it was mayhem. The same mid-40s crowd were twenty-somethings again. Fair enough to say that we were pretty much pushed and shoved to 10-15 rows from the stage by the time they played My Wave.

Spoonman was played early on and after a few familiar ones from Superunknown and Badmotorfinger, they got going with songs from their earlier material which included Flower (I had the single but couldn’t remember – I can hear Riki pulling out his ‘Bagak’ quote now) and Incessant Mace, which was played at the soundcheck of the previous show in Dortmund. I’ve been told of how drunk Cornell would be at their shows in the 90’s but he was still able to pull off the songs. I guess it didn’t matter if you’re not fussed about any coherent in-between song banter. Drunk or otherwise, the most important thing is that he is able to do the high notes at this age. Heh. Just look at him doing Outshined here:

The stage was kinda low and it was really difficult to see Kim Thayil playing his guitar, and tiptoeing all evening wasn’t my plan at all. But it wasn’t difficult to see how calm and collected he was, clad in his black Cthulhu tee and snowcap, playing the licks on his Guild SG’s on stage right. The towering Ben Shepherd looked menacingly quiet on stage left – pretty much buat hal sendiri. And Matt Cameron looked like he had just stepped off a Pearl Jam stage only to have his Yamaha kit’s bass drum skin changed to that of King Animal‘s.

Fell On Black Days was a welcome respite of sorts. Soon after, a series of slower King Animal tracks were played including Taree, although I’d love it if they had included A Thousand Days Before, a sitar-esque song that is so Soundgarden. The ever-so superb Rusty Cage without its standard guitar intro took me by surprise and the whole floor got moving in a Brownian motion again. They ended the main set with the bass-riffed Rowing.

For the encore, they started with Worse Dreams from the new record. I thought it was a pleasant surprise that they played Black Hole Sun. I’d have thought it’d be like Radiohead playing Creep live or sumthin’. As they always do, the show ended with Slaves & Bulldozers, prolonged with a 5-minute bass and guitar feedback outro.

And was it a great night? Of course it bloody was. And if I don’t get to see them ever again, it doesn’t matter especially after experiencing this much greatness up close and personal. And that’s another tick on my 1990’s throwback gig list!


You can watch the whole Shepherd’s Bush show here.

Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London set 9.11.12: Been Away Too Long / My Wave / Spoonman / Let Me Drown / Room a Thousand Years Wide / Flower / Hunted Down / Drawing Flies / Incessant Mace / Blow Up the Outside World / Fell on Black Days / Loud Love / Black Saturday / Eyelid’s Mouth / Taree / Rusty Cage / Outshined / Attrition / Rowing // Worse Dreams / The Day I Tried to Live / Black Hole Sun / Slaves & Bulldozers