Monday, January 28, 2013

Review- Soundgarden @ The Fillmore Detroit on January 27, 2013 in Detroit, MI

The events leading up to this show were emotionally charged for me. My wife's health has taken a turn for the worse in the past few weeks. She had emergency surgery on the 14th. That didn't work out and she was still having pain and, as it would turn out, internal bleeding. She passed out in the hallway in the middle of the night Thursday, resulting in an ambulance ride to the hospital and another surgery. I was thinking, well, scratch the show, I'll have to have my friend sell my ticket. I can't leave my wife a few days after her surgery. My wife knew how much I was looking forward to this show, and in a supreme act of coolness called her friend to sit with her since she cannot be left alone because she is on narcotic painkillers and is unable to drive while on the mend. I have a sense of gratitude for my wife and two beautiful, healthy children after all of these events. So yeah, a super heavy week where I almost lost my wife. This bring us to this:
 Soundgarden @ The Fillmore Detroit on January 27, 2013 in Detroit, MI
The snowstorm caused our drive to the venue to take twice as long, but when they announced that they were coming to our godforsaken city in the month of January I expected as much. I went with my friend who saw them with me the last time Soundgarden rolled through town. I love ye olde State Theatre. I love the ornate wall carvings and it has great acoustics. Live Nation bought the venue in 2007 and renamed it The Fillmore Detroit. Whatever, it will always be the State to me. Or Clubland, which is what it was called the first time I saw a concert there.

We arrived around 8, and the line for the sold out show had dissipated. We walked in, got a drink and the band came on around 8:15 with no opening act. Spoonman was the song that they kicked off with the last time that they rolled through town. The band sounds great and looked little worse for the wear all these years later.

Jesus Christ Pose was the final song that they played at that 1996 show. Chris Cornell's voice still sounds great and he can still hit the high notes. Gun sounded great, ditto Let Me Drown
By Crooked Steps is my favorite song off of the new album after dozens of spins, and it sounds incredible live. The stage set consisted of a rear viewscreen which had different video displays throughout the show. I guess the days of bands having a tarp for a backdrop are long gone.
Before Rhinosaur Chris Cornell told a story about the last time they were here and how he stepped out onto the crowd and they held him over their heads as he walked out, holding him solid. He said he thought that would be “his new thing” and tried it the next night in a city he wouldn't name and they couldn't hold him up. He praised Detroit for our iron strength. Rhinosaur is a jam live. 
Hands All Over is another oldie that I never got to see them do live. For whatever reason I always missed these guys live and only caught them the one time in 1996, and they didn't do anything earlier than Badmotorfinger on that tour. You know a band's new album measures up when they go from an old fan favorite to a brand new song like Taree and the crowd is equally enthusiastic afterward. Matt Cameron pounded the Hell out of his skins throughout the night and seemed to be having a blast during My Wave. He is a part of two of the most successful Rock bands of the '90s, having joined Pearl Jam after Soundgarden broke up. 
The Day I Tried To Live sounded good, and I was paying close attention to Cornell's vocals and pleased to hear him hit the highs. It is forgivable when musicians get older for them to not live up to their past, but Soundgarden was ever bit as vital tonight as they were in their prime. Been Away Too Long was the third new song of the night. I wouldn't have minded if they did the whole new album live. Instead we got Hunted Down off of the Screaming Life EP. I found the mix between old deep cuts, new songs, and singles to be perfect. 
The thing that first drew me to this band on Badmotorfinger was how they sounded like a freight train that could go off of the rails at any moment. Drawing Flies is one of those songs, and it was sped up a notch, adding to that effect. The fourth new song of the night was Non-State Actor. During Blow Up The Outside World my friend made a crack how the last time we saw them there was a sea of lighters in the crowd. Now we have a sea of cellphone lights. This got me thinking about a lot of things that have happened between then and now. I was 23 the last time I saw the band. I'm now 39. The biggest problem that this country faced the last time the band rolled through town was a President who smoked pot and got blowjobs. Now...heh. Fell On Black Days indeed. 
Ugly Truth was another oldie. The band played a song tonight that they stated they had never performed live before, and that we were going to get to see them butcher it. Tighter & Tighter was a treat. These guys change their setlist up every night, which makes watching their setlists online a lot of fun. Zero Chance is another great song off of that same album. Born without a friend and bound to die to alone. 1996 was a point in time where I felt that way. Flower was another obscure one from Ultramega OK
I chuckled during Outshined. Not because of the performance, but because of the crowd. Gen X-ers were a fairly pretentious lot, eschewing live concert traditions back in the day. The backwards baseball hat, flannel and shorts wearing crowd would have never sang along to the chorus like they did last night. The crowd was mostly us oldsters, still cynical after all of these years. 
Like I stated above, my wife has been in the hospital recently, and after spending 14 hours there I was kicked out when visiting hours were over. I have been playing the King Animal album a lot, and Bones of Birds was on when I got in the car after walking across the hospital campus in the snow. The backdrop screen had images of snow and wrecked building, and it could have very well been shot in Detroit.
The band did a lot of songs off of Down On The Upside tonight, such as Burden In My Hand and Pretty Noose. Five total by my count. Mailman is a personal favorite of mine. Rowing sounded a bit different live and rounded out the set proper. 

At some point during these songs some idiot climbed up onto the ledge where there are suits of knight armor on each side of the stage. These are old, ornamental touches that go back to the mid 1920s when the venue was built. This asshat almost fell and broke the axe off of the knight. Cornell got a hold of it and proceeded to use it as a stage prop. I laughed and thought of that ridiculous Robert Plant segment in The Song Remains The Same where he's riding a horse with a sword. 
The encore was the unstoppable Rusty Cage and Incessant Mace off of Ultramega OK. 28 songs, two and a half hours. I initially thought that the $75 main floor ticket price (including service rape fee) was a bit steep, but after the quality and length of the performance felt it was worth every penny. I hope that Soundgarden comes back to Detroit before 2029.
After the show the snow had turned into rain, resulting in a slushy mess. Sesame Street Live was at the Fox Theatre, which is right next to the State, just one block over on Woodward. In a moment of idiocy, I thought that it would be tits to have my picture taken with Big Bird. 


  1. best wishes for your wife's speedy recovery! - steve

  2. Great review!! Hope your wife gets well soon. I posted videos if you'd like to see them.