Reprinted without permission from KERRANG!, April 14, 1990

by Phil Wilding

Riverside, Newcastle Upon Tyne

"Everyone say 'Fish!' After three, 1-2-3, fish!!"

Soundgarden's Chris Cornell shrugs off the largely indifferent reaction and butts his way into Hands All Over. Snapped heads and sheets of hair struggle through the words of ecological salvation: Put your hands away/you're gonna kill your mother, kill your mother/And I love her.

Soundgarden are the thinking men of grunge. Scholarly hotheads not without a sense of humour. Their sound, through a remarkably poky PA, lets the distant swell of feedback and distortion rumble as a constant, steeling their musical edge into ragged peaks.

Loud Love is uglier than incest, more commanding than religion. Struck out in filthy hammer blows, the first stage-diver flops off awkwardly to it. Cornell takes his cue, standing momentarily on his monitor then toppling quickly into the crowd. He's instantly swamped, then dragged back to the stage, only to jump straight back off as soon as he reaches it. Oh, the place was simply jumping.

Spinal Tap's Big Bottom is played straight, no trace of irony or humour, though its sound is transformed to the heavy pulse of Soundgarden, full of punch and fluster, perfect in its execution.

Big Dumb Sex is all bare chest and giggles, pointing an accusatory finger at the spandex, love pump, big shove outfits peddling more entendres than Finbarr Saunders. 'I'm gonna f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k you/ F**k you I'm gonna'

Straightforward, louder than love, stronger than hate. Soundgarden are the full force f**king machine, and they're coming right at you.