On Monday night I was faced with a dilemma. For one night only, there was a showing of a Soundgarden gig on the IMAX screen. Normally this wouldn’t lead to a dilemma, but there were a few things to consider; there wasn’t a screening near work or home and the nearest one was in Leeds (an 80 mile round trip), it would cut into my training time and I would be late to bed which would then affect the next day. Also, since Chris Cornell’s passing, I’ve found it difficult to listen to his voice despite the fact he has a unique voice and I’ve loved his music since I bought ‘Louder Than Love’. He has been the singer at some of the best gigs I’ve been to and have been lucky enough to see him perform in all but one of his guises (Temple of the Dog). The sadness in much of his music and the lyrical content of some of the songs have made them difficult to listen to as they have tended to make me feel sad and upset at the loss of such a wonderful talent. The combination of that and the fact that the last gig I went to with Dan was earlier in the King Animal tour made me question whether it would be a good idea as I thought it might stir up too much emotion.
In the end, I decided to make the trip as it would be the one and only chance to see the concert film on a big screen and it might be the only time I could see it. During the day I wondered if I had done the right thing as I had been up and down over the past couple of months but after work I set off in the direction of Leeds. When I arrived and took my seat, I didn’t really know what to expect as I hadn’t seen a film on the IMAX screen for many years and had never seen a concert on it. As the lights went down, the anticipation started to build.
The concert was filmed in 2013 following the tour to promote the ‘King Animal’ album. The band had reformed following their split in 1997 after 12 years and 5 album releases. They had originally formed in 1984 and as they hailed from Seattle were an integral part of the Grunge scene during the 90’s. They were always a bit different from the other bands of that era despite the labelling due to their unusual time signatures, Chris Cornell’s extreme range, Kim Thayil’s Sabbath-inspired riffs and sonic musings, Ben Shepherd’s rumbling bass lines and Matt Cameron’s power drumming. There was always a beautiful darkness about their songs, from Hunted Down through Drawing Flies, Burden in My Hand and Spoonman, to the more recent Been Away Too Long. My personal favourite has always been Fell On Black Days, something that hasn’t really changed since I first heard it. It’s one of those songs that I immediately seem to connect with, and it has moved me in many ways since. I’ve heard it played several different ways and all have had their own impact based on the circumstances at the time but it’s one that I can always come back to without fail.
After a short interview with Chris Cornell, it was time for the concert to begin as they opened with Incessant Mace. The setlist was a mix of old and new, from Ultramega Ok to King Animal with plenty from in between. As I watched the concert go on there were some moments of sadness. Sadness at the loss of Dan, as Soundgarden was the last gig we went to together; sadness at the loss of an amazing talent in Chris Cornell and sadness that there would be no more opportunities to see such one of my favourite bands live again. Two of those were heavily linked as both Dan and Chris Cornell had died before their time and left families behind. They had their own black days as many of us have but they couldn’t see a way out of the darkness.
There is much more being done, and mental health is talked about much more particularly by men than it ever has been, but it is still the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK. That said, there still needs to be more done as we all need to pull together and look after each other. We need to check in on each other more often and make sure that things really are ‘ok’. When you suffer from depression you get very good at glossing things over and convincing everyone except yourself that things are ok. There’s a high chance that you know someone who is struggling now but is hiding it from their friends and family and convincing them that everything is ‘ok’. Please look out for your friends as you never know what difference just one question or one hug could make to them. In an age when we are more connected than ever, many people are feeling lonelier than before.
A phone call, text or a chat can help more than you know and that has been the case for me in the past. There are some people who are unaware of how much they have helped me when I’ve been at low points and I can never repay them for that. I will always wish that I could have done more for Dan but there is no way of going back now and it’s something that I can never change and must live with. If you are struggling, please reach out to someone, a friend, a family member, your GP, to an online support group, to the Samaritans, please just reach out as there is help there. There are some links on the Resources page on our website or get in touch with us. We have lost too many unique people and we don’t want to lose any more. You are unique and that is an amazing thing.
Onwards and upwards