This Isn't a Soundgarden Reunion, It's a Band In Its Prime (And Other Thoughts From Thursday's Show at the Paramount)

Dave Lake
Soundgarden played the first of a two-night, sold-out run at the Paramount on Thursday, Feb. 7.


Thursday, Feb. 7

The Paramount

This did not feel like a reunion show. This wasn't a reunion show. This was a healthy, well-rehearsed, inspired group of musicians doing what they do best -- not what they feel obligated to do.

See Also: Nostalgia is predictable, safe, and increasingly regressive. Soundgarden, thankfully, is not.

Yeah, it is possible for bands to get back together after 16 years and not look nostalgic. Last night's show didn't have any whiff of a cash-grab. It looked, felt, and sounded like a rock band in its prime.

I don't know that I've ever seen a band flex the way Soundgarden did last night. On "The Day I Tried to Live" and "Blow Up the Outside World," for example, the quartet leaned in and took the songs to places that bands discover when they have a mastery of their material, but have not grown weary of it. They demonstrated how you can build on your recordings by bettering understanding and perfecting it, not by re-imagining it (which isn't a bad thing).

"Spoonman" was the low point of the set, and the only performance that felt perfunctory. They seemed about as tired of hearing the song as the DJs at the End. It reminded me of Pearl Jam's disappointing run through "Daughter" at KeyArena. It is possible for a band to keep over-played hits fresh (Beck's slide guitar on "Loser" comes to mind), but they have to want to. PJ didn't want to play "Daughter," and I don't think Chris Cornell wants to feel the rhythm with your hands anymore. That's OK. Maybe he shouldn't.

There was no opener last night. Awesome. More bands should tour w/out openers. Sorry, openers. When an audience just wants to hear the headliner, that's what they should get.

I didn't realize until last night how much Ben Shepherd brings to the band - and the sound we associate with "grunge." When I think of grunge, I hear Soundgarden. And the sound's smirking growl gets its low end from Shepherd's bass.

Yes, I guess you could say Soundgarden creates its own wall of sound.

They didn't play "Black Hole Sun." That's OK. (See above.)

The band played 30 26 songs over more than 2 hours, and it never dragged. That said, the show could have ended after "Jesus Christ Pose," and I would have been satisfied. Don't new bands today realize what they could bring to their songs if they dedicated themselves to technical scholarship of their instruments?

Soundgarden Setlist Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA, USA 2013, King Animal Tour

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