The Seattle music scene thrived in the ‘90s, and one of its greatest gifts was the collaboration between Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron of Soundgarden, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament of Mother Love Bone, and guitarist Mike McCreedy. The project – Temple of the Dog – served as a tribute to Mother Love Bone vocalist Andrew Wood who died of an overdose. Twenty five years later, the group hit the road for a their first tour, commencing within the intimate confines of the Tower Theater in Philadelphia last night.
Opening with the emotional ode to Wood, “Say Hello 2 Heaven,” the song remains as moving as it did when Cornell first penned the lyrics as a way to cope with the loss of his former roommate. Perhaps it was the overwhelming anticipation of the show, or more than two decades of personal chemistry and musical evolution that developed into the foundation of Pearl Jam, but the performance was a perfect balance of Cornell’s searing vocals with the psychedelic- and blues-infused riffs of Gossard and McCreedy.
A moment of disorientation struck when Cameron’s complex drum signatures introduced “Wooden Jesus,” suggesting the album was not being played in sequence. It would be the lone disappointment on the night. Rather, they continued with the lush “Call Me a Dog” and controversial “Your Savior,” complete with McCreedy’s blistering solo. From there they digressed into Mother Love Bone music—the random structure of the setlist added a surprise element to the show. A series of diverse and eclectic covers were also included that spanned David Bowie (“Quicksand”) to The Cure (“Fascination Street”) to Black Sabbath (“War Pigs”). Syd Barrett, Led Zeppelin, Free and Harry Nilsson also made the cut, resulting in a blistering show that approached two-and-a-half hours of music. Call it a reward to those who patiently endured the 25-year wait for this long overdue tour.
– Recap and Gallery by Daniel DeSlover