World Tour 1996-1997: The Fans' Report
Sydney, Australia, 30 Jan 1997
SOUNDGARDEN: Live at the Hordern Pavilion, Thursday 30/1/97 (supported by The Fauves and You Am I).

Searching With my Good Eye Closed
Let Me Drown
Pretty Noose
Burden in my Hand
My Wave
Ty Cobb
Black Hole Sun
Waiting for the Sun
Rusty Cage
Helter Sketer
Boot Camp
Blow Up the Outside World
No Attention
Slaves and Bulldozers
Jesus Christ Pose

The Hordern Pavilion was crammed to the max with fervent Soundgarden fans keen to get out of the half-arsed summer rain and into what was to be a memorable evening's entertainment. Australian acts, The Fauves and You Am I, were well-received and they set the scene with fiery, energetic and uncompromising sets for their enthusiastic "hometown" audiences. And then came Soundgarden.

Unlike the weather, the 'Garden were far from half-hearted. They belted a "Greatest Hits" setlist (containing nothing earlier than "Badmotorfinger") with the only surprises being a stripped-down acoustic version of "Black Hole Sun" by Cornell and a brooding and menacing interpretation of "Helter Skelter" which U2 could have learned a thing or two from... Sorry Bono, but Soundgarden have stolen it back.

Cornell's voice took a while to warm-up, hidden behind some incendiary playing by the band in the earlier numbers. A murky "Spoonman" and a disappointing "Pretty Noose" were a little unconvincing, Cornell straining and ducking from some of the higher notes which are easier to hit earlier during a world tour.

But this is inevitably sheer nit-picking. As Cornell (and the audience) got warmer and the band (and audience) tighter and tighter, these complaints became somewhat irrelevant in the high energy and drama of an engaging Soundgarden performance. Shepherd and Cameron's unfailing precision and innovation in the rhythm section (let's face it- there are some tough riffs in this repetoire) were played with unrelenting gusto and were the backbone of the performance.

The songs from "Badmotorfinger" stole the show. "Outshined", "Rusty Cage", "Slaves & Bulldozers" and the evening finale "Jesus Christ Pose" (with an epilogue of piercing feedback left as an epitaph) consistently put the crowd into a fist-yielding, chanting-frenzy which will find a lot of Sydney folk waking up the next day with stiff necks and ears still sweetly ringing.

The band was at its best when playing with atmospherics: "Boot Camp" was sinister, yet the passion in Cornell's singing and Thayil's assured solos suggested maybe there is some light somewhere 'far away from here'. The light and shade of "Blow Up the Outside World", a Pixies/Nirvana legacy, really enhanced the latent dissolution that is the song's underbelly. Thayil was again note-perfect. The boys gave everything they needed to- but not necessarily always with the amps turned right up to 11. Cornell's solo-acoustic version of "Black Hole Sun" lost none of its intensity for its stark, bare-boned (and chested) presentation.

Seeing audiences members of all shapes, ages and sizes giving their full attention and buckets of sweat to a band that commands it, will certainly do me- despite my quibbles. If no one rides for free, the price of admission was almost a bargain given the quality and length of the evening's entertainment.

George Huitker
Canberra 31/1/97

forgot it
it was awesome.better than i expected.shame they didn't play hands all over.