This is the first gig we have covered since Hurricane Sandy knocked New York City down to its knees two weeks ago. It is hard to imagine that two weeks have gone by and this city is still trying to get back on its feet. Yet, as things slowly begin to get back to normal for the tri-state area and we rebuild, it was nice to see a band that cared so much to help restore the area that for a special concert for Live on Letterman, Soundgarden took their corporate sponsorship money for the gig and gave it to The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, which benefits restoring New York City and aiding the victims of the devastating hurricane. With that in mind, it was time for New Yorkers to finally rejoice and release themselves after a tragic event.
Walking on stage to thunderous applause, the legendary Seattle grunge band whose new album in 16 years, the fantastic King Animal is out tomorrow, had a lot to celebrate. They looked like rock stars, they also looked like regular Joe's, it is an amazing juxtaposition for the guys in the band because they all seem so cool and laid back. Singer Chris Cornell jokingly took the mic and said, "Hi. We are going to do 'Twist and Shout,'" clearly referring to, like many bands doing this series, The Beatles appearance on the same stage. Opening with "Worse Dreams" from King Animal, the band showed what they were made of. Since reforming in 2010 the band have been doing various reunion tours and festival appearances without any new music, this was one of the first times any new songs were ever played in North America to a live audience, which made the already special occasion more meaningful. Guitarist Kim Thyail chomped away at his axe all night the way a Mustang's engine would after it hit full octane. The rhythm section of Matt Cameron on drums and Ben Shephard on bass was something to admire, but at the end of it all it is Cornell's vocal ability that will take your breath away. Easily the greatest vocalist in the history of American rock and roll, Cornell has not lost any touch from his tone after all these years. While a majority of the songs came off King Animal, the band made it a point to play very rare, obscure, deep cuts from their early years off albums like UltraMegaOK and Louder Than Love, songs like "Incessant Mace," and "Behind the Wheel," were featured. Cornell even joked, "If you know anything about this band, you will know this song, it is from a record called UltraMegaOK," before playing "Behind the Wheel." Yet, the shocking things from the bands near hour-long set was that it was nearly completely void of singles with the exception of "Fell on Black Days," not even the current single, "Been Away Too Long," was played. Yet, no one seemed to care because to see icons like this in a setting like this is one of kind.
While the fans enjoyed every second of the show and shouted various songs to the stage hoping their heroes would take requests, Soundgarden thanked everyone for coming out. Cornell said, "Thanks New York City for coming out after everything you went through recently with the hurricane." It was a touching moment and a moment no one will forget, immediately after the band walked off stage after playing King Animal's closing track, "Rowing," Cornell himself jetted down to Bowery Ballroom for a solo Sandy Benefit show. A class act fronting a world class band.