Soundgarden – Jim Marshall Stage (Main Stage) – Sunday 19:00 – 20:15
Having not played in the UK for about 15 years there is a certain amount of buzz for Soundgarden’s appearance at Download 2012 and my own excitement was building as their set drew ever closer, despite not being that bothered when they were initially announced. What a shame then, that when watching the band’s performance I was reminded of watching Incubus in Download 2008 and desperately started looking around for some drying paint to watch instead.
Opting for a set that not only didn’t include their newly released ‘Live to Rise’ track from the Avengers soundtrack, but also wasn’t simply playing “A-sides”, a previously released greatest hits set, the band opened strongly with ‘Spoonman,’ drummer Matt Cameron presumably on day release from Pearl Jam – is he both bands again? – the lack of passion on stage could be passed off as nerves or merely not being quite in the zone yet. However, when there is still a complete disinterest emanating from Chris Cornell during ‘Let Me Drown,’ ‘Gun’ and even ‘Outshined,’ you realise that noise you hear after every song ends is a cash register opening to line their pockets a little more and give the band the motivation to move on to the next song.
Many in the audience were probably unaware of songs like ‘Jesus Christ Pose,’ ‘Drawing Flies’ and ‘Ugly Truth’ and with such a lacklustre performance it’s hard to appreciate them now and you can’t help but wonder if a song like ‘Fell On Black Days’ isn’t just pushing the downbeat feel of the gig a little too far. It isn’t until a few songs later that you realise the vast majority of the audience are merely there to hear ‘Black Hole Sun’ and/or get their spot for Black Sabbath.
As Soundgarden finish ‘Beyond The Wheel’ by having their guitars feedback for literally three minutes, many breathe a collective sigh of relief it’s over and others wonder what the big deal was. Of course, maybe we just didn’t get it and that was Soundgarden at their best. I sure hope not…
Soundgarden Download 2012 setlist:
Let Me Drown
Jesus Christ Pose
Fell On Black Days
The Day I Tried To Live
Black Hole Sun
Beyond The Wheel
Photograph by Andrew Whitton Photography