Release Date: July 26, 2019
On February 13, 2013 Soundgarden wrapped up their winter tour in support of their first album in 16 years, King Animal with a taping of PBS’ Live From the Artist’s Den. Performing fan favorites along with rarities, it’s one of their most celebrated shows and it finally received an official release. The two-and-a-half-hour show features 21 songs never before released on a Soundgarden concert film with 17 appearing on a live album for the first time. It’s a monumental show that fans can now relive and serves as a celebration of the band in the wake of Chris Cornell’s death.
The 29-song setlist spans across the band’s career covering their early years with cuts like “Hunted Down” to their breakout albums Badmotorfinger and Superunknown along with nearly every song from their final album King Animal. Classics like Fell On Black Days,” “Black Hole Sun,” “Jesus Christ Pose,” and “Rusty Cage” are all featured, but the best moments come from the never before played “Bling Dogs” and the rarely played “New Damage.” The setlist is so extensive it’ll please everyone from casual listeners to die hard fans.
Listening to this monumental concert feels like a celebration of Soundgarden’s legacy. At this point, they’ve been together for 29 years and the setlist beautifully captures this. Though it’s always thrilling to hear their biggest singles, the deep cuts show the numerous hidden gems in their catalog. The album also shows what a force the band is live. For over two hours, they play with such fury and energy. Not once do they sound worn out or bored. Rather you can hear their passion pouring out of every ounce of their instruments.
Though they’re all stellar performers, Cornell steals the show. He delivers one of his best performances with his unique voice on full display. The way he howls on “By Crooked Steps” and his soulful croons on “Blow Up the Outside World” leaves you with chills. Even at this point in his career, his voice maintained the same power and soul that first captivated fans back in the early 90s. Listening to him rip through these songs reminds you of what an amazing singer he was.
While the Blu-ray counterpart is better at displaying the band’s energy and vibe with each other on stage, the album still provides an immersive experience. Aside from some audio clean up and tweaking the show is left intact. It even includes their stage banter, which is brief but sees Cornell sharing stories about certain songs. Hearing him joke about PBS standing for Public Bitch Session or talking about Basketball Diaries gets you closer to that live experience.
Soundgarden: Live From the Artists Den is a must have for all Soundgarden fans. It’s a nearly perfect evening with an impressive setlist that keeps fans on their toes. It also shows Soundgarden at the top of their game with Cornell’s powerful voice a highlight of the entire evening. In the wake of Cornell’s death, it would be easy to mourn his death. But this album lets us celebrate the prolific career of both Soundgarden and Cornell. He may no longer be with us, but at least we’ll always have the wonderful talent he shared with the world.