It's the reunion grunge fanatics said would never, ever happen. On Wednesday night in Seattle, the former members of [artist id="1019"]Soundgarden[/artist] reunited for a brief set at the Seattle stop of [artist id="1010"]Rage Against the Machine[/artist] guitarist Tom Morello's Justice Tour. Well, all the members except singer [artist id="100108"]Chris Cornell[/artist], who is busy promoting his Timbaland-helmed solo album.
The three other members of the group, reclusive guitar wizard Kim Thayil, current [artist id="1006"]Pearl Jam[/artist] drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd — who have not played together since the band split in 1997 — were supplemented by hefty grunge semi-celebrity [artist id="17345"]Tad Doyle[/artist] for the gig, which was greeted with ecstatic cheers by the lucky fans in attendance.
According to the Seattle Weekly, during the surprise set at the city's Crocodile club, Morello, who said he has rarely been as excited, played rhythm guitar as the razor-blades-and-gravel-voiced Doyle sang lead on "Spoonman," during what was described as "a rare moment for Seattle rock and everybody in the venue knows it. Just moments earlier, the floor of the Crocodile was nearly shaking from all of the screaming fans who were waiting all night for this type of surprise. But most people didn't know what the surprise was."
The night opened with Morello playing a set as the [artist id="1876741"]Nightwatchman[/artist], followed by some songs from Steve Earle, a few tunes from the new Morello/ Boots Riley (the Coup) band Street Sweeper, sets from [artist id="120"]Mudhoney[/artist] singer Mark Arm and former [artist id="12149"]MC5[/artist] guitarist Wayne Kramer.
"Right after that, Tadgarden hit the stage and the place went nuts," the Weekly reported, noting that the big question hanging over the reunion all night was whether Cornell would be behind the mic, a prospect most in the crowd knew was not likely given the band's acrimonious split. The newly dubbed supergroup started with "Nothing to Say," then hit "Spoonman" and ended with the leadoff track from the group's debut 1987 EP, Screaming Life, "Hunted Down." Just before he acid-gargled his way through "Spoonman," the beefy Doyle lifted up his shirt, jiggled his gut and joked, "That's half a Cornell right there."
After the show, when asked how he thought it went, Thayil reportedly said, "Not bad for an hour and a half of practice after not playing together for 12 years. ... It was a lot of fun. We played yesterday for a bit but we know all that stuff by heart so we didn't need to practice much."
The poorly kept secret was widely documented by a number of Seattle scenesters, showing up almost instantly in Flickr photostreams and a set of poor-quality MP3s and videos on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog site.