British summertime and it's that time of year when music lovers head off to London's Hyde Park to enjoy the sunshine and some good music. Well that's the plan. Only two days before here at Hyde Park, the Hit Factory gig, which was to feature some of MetalTalk chief Steve Goldby's favourite bands from the eighties including Bananarama, Rick Astley and Jason Donovan was cancelled due to the non stop heavy rains which turned the site into a quagmire and left too many broken hearts in the world broken in two.
However, organisers Live Nation got the woodchippers in to make the sodden ground stable and safe enough for the punters to see grunge icons Soundgarden play their first gig in the capital in some fifteen years. However the weather did dampen the ticket sales which resulted in this Hyde Park Calling gig being the least attended show I've ever seen, although this was good for the punter who could easily get down near the front.
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Fellow grungesters Pearl Jam packed the park out only two years before but Soundgarden are not quite on the same level to be honest but with the added attraction of Iggy Pop and his Stooges and the first showing from Aussie rockers Cold Chisel in almost 30 years, there was enough talent on the bill to get me out and put on the wellies and soak up the entertainment.
Upon arrival Kentucky clean living rockers Black Stone Cherry were almost winding up their set ploughing through 'Blame It On The Boom Boom' with a little dash of Amy Winehouse's 'Rehab' which was a little apt as my late arrival was down to the fact that I was finishing of a bottle of Pimms at home with my friends who were telling me to hurry up, only for me to reply "No, No, No".
You see, being a regular at Hyde Park Calling, I know that's it's wise to be Brahms N' Lizst before sobering up on the luke warm watered down sponsored lager that's on offer. (Can I say that?... Ho-Hum, I just did).
So far, so good, the rain was sprinkling a little here and there with many heading off to the massive marquee tent to see bands such as the Dirty Youth, Hawk Eyes, Red White & Blues, Skindred and the Mars Volta, but with running order clashes and feeling the need to talk bollocks with friends in between bands I opted just to watch the bands on the main stage.
For many novices here Jimmy Barnes is best remembered for his collaboration with INXS on the 91 smash hit 'Good Times' although his band Cold Chisel are a household name down under and have just made their first album in fourteen years with 'No Plans' and it is their first return to the UK in three decades, pleasing many Aussie expats here who are out in force and also many Pommie grey haired rockers who are seeing the band live for the first time.
Cold Chisel didn't disappoint, playing a barnstormer of a set mixing the old with the new with aplomb. Glasweigian born Barnes has the voice full of gravel you would expect from one with Scottish roots, similar to Dan McCafferty of Nazareth. The feel good music is full of boogie woogie and swing and had many singing along.
New material like 'HQ 454 Monroe' sat neatly amongst classics like 'Flame Trees' and the anti-war anthem 'Khe Sanh'. Cold Chisel would've given Bruce Springsteen a good run for his money if the Chisel were here a day later. An excellent show which made me wish I had made the trip to the Shepherds Bush Empire only a few days before. The band can't come back soon enough by my reckoning.
Iggy & The Stooges could've easily been headliners, opening to a more mainstream audience, however Iggy Pop was on fine form showing off his unique physique and using up all of the stage running around and jumping into the pit for 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' where at one stage he humorously asks security to carry him from one side to the other to save himself from getting muddy and is carried like a little child. Pop swings his mic lead and wraps it around his body, engaging with the crowd at every level.
Steve MacKay pumps the sax to the max and James Williamson provides the riffs from those early classic albums of 'Fun House' and 'Raw Power' and even numbers from 'Kill City'. The set flew by all too quickly. Iggy was fun, Iggy was the business.
Soundgarden are a lot more serious and the music has a lot more depth but with the beer still flowing the rain falls down heavily during 'Black Hole Sun' meaning I saw more of the umbrellas than what I did of the band.
In previous reports I heard the band were going through the motions but I felt Soundgarden were tight and clinical with just the right amount of elbow grease to keep this machine rolling. Chris Cornell has still got that axl grinding voice that can shudder Metal and Kim Thayil has some of the meatiest riffs borrowed from Black Sabbath.
This classic line up played virtually everything you wanted to hear from the 'Badmotorfinger' and 'Superunknown' albums and they must have been good for Led Zeppelin legend Jimmy Page to watch from the wings right until the very end. With Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley both brown bread along with many others from the grunge explosion, fans of this era should hold onto Soundgarden dearly.
Soundgarden set list
Searching With My Good Eye Closed
Jesus Christ Pose
Black Hole Sun
Blow Up The Outside World
Fell On Black Days
The Day I Tried To Live
Beyond The Wheel
Let Me Drown
4th Of July