Soundgarden - The Fonda Theatre - 11/27/12
Timothy Norris

Soundgarden - The Fonda Theatre - 11/27/12


The Fonda Theatre


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Better than...watching reruns of Headbanger's Ball

See also: Our Soundgarden slideshow of the concert

When Chris Cornell announced on New Year's Eve three years ago that school was back in session and Soundgarden was reforming, no one knew quite what to expect. Would the band simply hit the road for a one-off reunion tour and call it quits again? Did they have any game left in them after 14 years on the sidelines? The answers: No, and yes.

Bands rarely break up in their prime, but after a few years of internal squabbles, that's what Soundgarden did in 1997. Though they played The Forum in 2011 as part of a handful of reunion dates, who knew they could rekindle their old on-stage energy, and even write a compelling batch of fresh songs?

To support the release of the brand-new King Animal, their first since 1996, the grunge icons played three North American at smaller venues, in New York City, Toronto and at the Fonda last night.

Soundgarden - The Fonda Theatre - 11/27/12
Timothy Norris

Performing before a backdrop of their album cover, they took fans on a two and a half hour journey through their catalog, including songs from off their rarely unearthed Sub Pop releases.

Cornell's voice has not aged; he can still belt out his trademark high notes with ease, even on difficult songs like "Outshined" and "Spoonman." Combined with the excellent playing of guitarist Kim Thayil and drummer Matt Cameron, it's easy to see why Soundgarden was the Seattle band that appealed to hard rock fans more than some of their contemporaries.

"Some of you have folded arms like industry people," Cornell said at one point. "That industry is dead now and that's what the smell is from."

But mostly the focus was on the songs, like the brooding "Blow Up The Outside World," "Fell On Black Days" and their comeback single, "Been Away Too Long."

Reunion tours can be problematic, but Soundgarden didn't act like a band on the mend. Though the show had some sputters -- "Black Hole Sun" was a bit of a mess -- the crowd was appreciative almost all the way through; the headbangers and air guitar players in attendance certainly appeared to be enjoying themselves.

Critical Bias: My head hurts and my are ears throbbing, but after waiting 15 years to see Soundgarden, it was worth it.

The Crowd: Remember that Wayne's World scene where when Wayne and Garth are at the rock club? Add 20 years to that and you got your crowd.

Random Notebook Dump: A sign out front helpfully noted that long chains, spikes and poster tubes were not permitted in the venue.

Set list below

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Set list:

The set list
The set list
Daniel Kohn

See also: Our Soundgarden slideshow of the concert


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