Soundgarden / Hard Rock Calling
Matt Heeley went back to the old school to revisit some childhood heroes of his...
If, like me, you are someone who fell in love with a genre of music that had arguably hit its peak while you were still in primary school, then you will understand the excitement that comes from the opportunity to catch one of its seminal proponents live for the first time, all these years later.
Hard Rock Friday saw grunge behemoths Soundgarden take the rather large stage, for what was only their second UK gig since reforming in 2010. And they did not disappoint.
The band came on to rapturous welcome amidst the rousing intro to 'Searching With My Good Eye Closed', and almost instantly it felt like they had never been away. From thunderous renditions of early material like 'Gun', 'Beyond the Wheel', and 'Ugly Truth', to the epic tracks from their later years like 'Let Me Drown' and 'Pretty Noose', their presence filled the looming enormity of the main stage with ease.
Perhaps the biggest reaction of the evening came with the instantly-recognisable first few notes of 'Black Hole Sun' – appropriately timed as the rain began to fall. Chris Cornell and the rest of the band were clearly enjoying their time on stage, quipping that Hyde Park “looks much better in the rain”.
Like a statement of intent, ‘Jesus Christ Pose’ stood out as the most stunning performance of the show, being epically frantic, this song reminded everyone just how heavy and tight these guys are; Cornell's wailing voice sounding as good as ever over Kim Thayil's howling guitar work.
The band ended the main part of their set with the brooding and wholly unexpected “4th of July”, leaving the crowd reverent, and yet hungry for more. Keeping strictly to the diet of back catalogue, despite talk of working on new material and featuring on Avengers Assemble, two songs from Badmotorfinger formed the encore – classic opening track 'Rusty Cage' and 'Slaves and Bulldozers'. If they can keep on this form, it seems there’ll be exciting times ahead for fans old and new.