SOUNDGARDEN
ARTICLES

Reprinted without permission from KERRANG!, September 28, 1996

SOUNDGARDEN/MOBY/ELEVEN

The Apollo,Manchester, Tuesday September 17 - review by Liam Sheils

Rating 3/5

Considering that cult LA outfit Eleven pass this way about as often as Halley's Comet, they hardly looked knocked out to be here. Even though the visual aspect of guitar, drum and keyboard three-piece is always going to be limited, the likes of I'll Be Your Friend and Why (a "A big hit in Bali", apparently) are songs to be reckoned with, and losing Jack Irons to Pearl Jam hasn't dented their sonic capabilities in the slightest. If only they'd put themselves out a bit more, that 'cult' appeal might start to be a lot less selective.

"Hi, my name is Moby, as in Dick, and this is a song called Heavy Flow. It's about menstruation..." The slight, radically barbered former denizen of the dancefloor surely believes in putting his cards squarely on the table. And if, as has been suggested, he is taking the piss out of rock music, it certainly doesn't show tonight. Paranoid is meted out with demented affection, and he even manages to make a cover of Joy Division's New Dawn Fades sound like an excerpt from Masters of Reality. In between, there's a smattering of breakneck punk rock from the shapeshifting Animal Rights album and a country-thrash rendition of the ravey dancefloor favourite Everytime You Touch Me. The first time you see the new Moby, it should be as a doubter. That way, the conversion will be all the sweeter.

It's been said many times before, but it's bloody true. Soundgarden, the band responsible for at least two of the last decade's most thrilling records, are grindingly average in concert. It's not like they're inept - Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron both play their rear ends off - but Chris Cornell struggles to convey enthusiasm, and bassman Ben Shepherd looks like he may nod off at any moment. You've seen pillarboxes with more articulation than this - there's just too much stage and not enough Soundgarden happening to fill it.

The songs are certainly all there: Pretty Noose, Burden in my Hand, Jesus Christ Pose, Let Me Drown - the only bona fide classic missing is Hands All Over. But opener Spoonman is flatter than a steam-ironed pancake, and Black Hole Sun, which should be nothing short of a thrilling climax, is wasted as Cornell plays it solo before driving a stake through his own heart with a pitiful "So I'm fucking Princess Di the other day..." joke.

What makes the whole tepid affair all the more frustrating is that every now and then - on Rusty Cage, Outshined and Ty Cobb - gears are noticably hitched upwards, energy is expended with vigour and the band are exhilarating. It's as though they're reminding us that they can do it if they want, but much of the time they're really not interested enough.

To repeat it again - it sounds awesome. But after the flesh and bone explosion that is Moby, Soundgarden are as exciting as drying paint. Game, set and match to the underdogs.

MOST ROCKING MOMENT: Either Outshined or Rusty Cage.

LEAST ROCKING MOMENT: Being charged #4.40 for a pint of Guinness was not in the least bit rocking.

BEST ONSTAGE QUOTE: "This is a song I wrote back when I was six years old, when I was a member of Black Sabbath!" - Moby introducing Paranoid.

VERDICT: Outshined by the support acts.