LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 27: Vocalist Chris Cornell of Soundgarden performs on stage at The Fonda Theatre on November 27, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (© Paul A. Hebert / www.PaulHebertPhoto.com) *** Local Caption *** Chris Cornell

Continuing with the intimate club show tour that the band has been doing to promote their already successful comeback album King Animal, Soundgarden arrived at The Fonda with a victory in their hands. The show, already sold out weeks in advance and with tickets being sold outside the venue for hundreds of dollars (I was offered a ticket for $200), it was certainly, one of the biggest events in town this year.

The long line around the block of The Fonda was formed by a multi-aged crowd, from teenagers with their parents to 60-somethings. While waiting to enter the show, I was almost knocked down by a stampede of paparazzi that were trying to snap a picture of, surprise, Eddie Van Halen. But he wasn’t the only celebrity there, as Sean Kinney (Alice in Chains drummer) and Kenny Aronoff (Amazing L.A session drummer) were strangely waiting in line to get in. It seems like drummers don’t have VIP privileges.

A few minutes after 9.00, the band started their set with one of their most mesmerizing and twisted songs, “Jesus Christ Pose”, which sounded phenomenal. After that, the show became an assault of non-stop Soundgarden classics melted together with some new tracks from King Animal like “Bones of Birds”, “A Thousand Days Before” or the single “Been Away Too Long” between many others. These songs made absolute sense in the set-list and were performed with energy and emotion. “Attrition”, a song that to me has a Pearl Jam vibe, was one of the most energetic out of this list of new tracks. I was gladly surprised about the choosing of some of the songs, like “Spoonman”, “Get on the Snake”, the unreal “My Wave” and “Burden in my Hand”, which are two of my favorite from the band. I really missed some of the darker songs like “4th of July” or more numbers from the underrated Down on the Upside. Still, the set was well design with a good balance of the old and the new.

Soundgarden were never a band with a lot going on onstage, so tonight wasn’t any different. Matt Cameron kept pounding the drums with precision and originality. Ben Shepherd, who looked serious all night till a drunken guy took off his shirt and started doing some crazy moves, was the most mobile member of the band while punishing and lifting his bass with an impressive finger technique. Kim Thayil was just there, smiling, having a good time and delivering the unusual riffs of the band. Cornell on the other hand is just the star of the show. It’s impressive what this man can do with his voice while playing the odd riffs of songs like “Non-State Actor” or “Rusty Cage”.

The sound was good, but I felt like some of the songs sounded a bit “off” and unrehearsed, like during “Black Hole Sun”. I’m not sure if this was because of the sound of the venue, which wasn’t the best, or because of the band’s playing. While nobody can deny how talented and skilled the band is with their instruments, I couldn’t help to feel “lost” during the performance of some of the songs.

The encore was surprising as the band performed “Incessant Maze” from the album Ultramega OK which was really trippy, the classic that everybody was waiting for, “Black Hole Sun”, and another of their most twisted and aggressive songs, “Slaves & Bulldozers“.

The show, that lasted almost two hours and a half, I’m sure, didn’t leave anybody disappointed. To me, being able to see one of my all-time favorite bands in such a small venue was very special, and it seemed that for the rest of the audience that feeling was shared. Welcome back Soundgarden.

Setlist

Jesus Christ Pose/Flower/Outshined/Spoonman/Attrition/Gun/By Crooked Steps/Taree/Non-State Actor/Get on the Snake/Blow Up the Outside World/Eyelid’s Mouth/Ugly Truth/Fell On Black Days  (Happy Birthday to Matt)/Been Away Too Long/Worse Dreams/My Wave/Burden in My Hand/A Thousand Days Before/Rusty Cage/Bones of Birds/Rowing

Encore:

Incessant Mace/ Black Hole Sun/Slaves & Bulldozers

ALL PHOTOS by: Paul A. Hebert