Temple of the Dog Make Incredible Live Debut

Seattle supergroup Temple of the Dog embark on their first tour after 25 years, stopping at Madison Square Garden to rock the house.

I’ve spoken about my love for the Seattle music scene and many of the amazing bands that came out of that city in the 90s. The history of some of those bands are deep, and one of those bands is Temple of the Dog. Temple of the Dog’s members include Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron from Soundgarden, as well as Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Mike McCready from Pearl Jam.

How they got together to record their one and only album 25 years ago is a story in itself. To get a full history, I urge you to check out an article I wrote last month about the re-release of Temple of the Dog’s very first album. After this loving tribute to their fallen friend Andy Wood, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden went on to achieve massive success and are still two bands loved by many.

In fact, when Pearl Jam performed two concerts for their twenty-year anniversary, they brought Cornell on stage to sing some Temple of the Dog much to the fan’s delight. Additionally, Matt Cameron has since gone on to become Pearl Jam’s drummer while still performing with Soundgarden as well. For the fans, most figured that would be the only time to see these songs performed live, as the guys never toured as Temple of the Dog. Well, that finally has changed!

Earlier this year in honor of the 25th anniversary of their one and only album release, the band announced they would play a handful of shows. One such show happened to be right in my backyard at Madison Square Garden in New York. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to get tickets before they instantly sold out.

After securing my tickets, I agonizingly waiting for 4 months for the fateful day to arrive. Once the day arrived, I knew I was in for a treat, as I was about to see one of the greatest supergroups ever assembled.

My friends and I were indescribably excited to be able to get a chance to see these songs performed live—after all, we thought we would never have the opportunity. 25 years in the making and the lights went down; the band opened the show with Cornell’s tribute to his friend Andy Wood, Say Hello to Heaven. Cornell has said the writing of that song helped him process the grief over losing his friend.

Right off the bat, the crowd was on their feet singing along to every word. It was surreal to see this actually happening… there Temple of the Dog stood, right before my very eyes! After playing Wooden Jesus, Call Me a Dog, and Your Saviour, Cornell spoke about Wood and their relationship as roommates and friends.

On a side note, the band only has ten songs on their original album. Because of this, we knew they would likely add some other songs to the set. However, the next treat occurred when the band actually tore into some of Andy Wood’s music from Mother Love Bone—the band that he had along with Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard.

This caused the crowd to roar in approval as Stardog Champion and Stargazer were played. Cornell did a fantastic job singing his old friend’s songs and the band was tight as could be. A full band version of Cornell’s solo song Seasons followed, and at this point I knew I was watching something truly special. The next question on everyone’s mind was if Eddie Vedder would show up to play with the band on the one song he had a vocal guest spot on, Hunger Strike.

Sadly, he did not. Instead, the band played the song and used the crowd for Eddie’s parts. I thought about it after the show and realized that it was better for Vedder to stay away as I think it would have taken away from the main theme of the night. Another amazing treat was a cover of Mad Season’s River of Deceit.

Mad Season was another Seattle supergroup with Mike McCready and Alice in Chains’ frontman Layne Staley at the forefront. In another tribute, Cornell sang a great version of the song as a tribute to another lost friend, Layne Staley. This had the entire crowd at Madison Square Garden singing along like they were all gathered around a campfire.

After another great Mother Love Bone song, Holy Roller, the main set came to a close with a killer version of Reach Down. Reach Down is an epic 11-minute song with an incredible 5-minute guitar solo by Mike McCready. When he recorded this song back in late 1990, McCready wasn’t known yet. Now, he is one of the greatest guitar players of his generation, and he seriously shredded it out there, bringing the crowd to their feet as they rocked out to his epic guitar solo.

The encore opened up with Mother Love Bones’ song Man of Golden Words, with lyrics including: “I want to show you something, like joy inside my heart, seems I been living in the Temple of the Dog.” Times of Trouble followed, and the coolest thing about this song is that the actual music on this song is also the same backing music to Footsteps by Pearl Jam, which was one of the songs sent to Eddie Vedder to write lyrics for when Ament and Gossard were looking to put a new band together in the ashes of Mother Love Bone.

The fact that these two songs are both incredible in their own right, each with different lyrics by two of Seattle’s best singers, is simply amazing. After that, we felt like the night was going to close out as there was only one more song from the Temple album to be played. But, Cornell got on the mic and said to the crowd that the next song was played at MSG a few times in the past and that it should be played here at least one more time. That announcement led to the band playing Achilles Last Stand by Led Zeppelin. Holy Cow!

I was so blown away by this cover and was in awe of just how great these guys are. Aside from Cornell’s vocals—which are second to none in any genre of music—Ament, Gossard, McCready, and Cameron are four of the best musicians out there. This band as Pearl Jam are remarkable, but tonight they proved that they can do just about anything together.

After it was over, Cornell remarked: “I can’t believe I just got to play Zeppelin’s Achilles Last Stand at The Garden.” A cover of the Cure’s Fascination Street followed and then an insane version of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs closed out the encore.

The band just killed it once again with War Pigs and they may have outdone Sabbath here. Just amazing. The band returned one last time to play the one song they hadn’t yet from their album, All Night Thing. This was a great way to close the show as the song talks about a memorable night with someone and this sure as hell was a memorable night.

After 25 years, to be able to go see Temple of the Dog perform and live out a dream I felt I would never see, was just pure heaven. The Seattle scene and the bands that came out of it made me who I am today in a sense, and I will never forget the music and all it did for me throughout my life (and still continues to do till this very day). I’m so glad I was able to have this experience; and

I’m so glad I was able to have this experience; and a special thanks to these 5 musicians who between them have been a part of Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden, Green River, Pearl Jam, Mad Season, and Temple of the Dog. That’s an impressive resume! Needless to say, the fans at Madison Square Garden witnessed history in the making, and will never forget the first time they saw Temple of the Dog… 25 years after they first debuted.

For more on the Seattle music scene, be sure to check out the anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind, and my trip to Boston for Pearl Jam’s legendary performances at Fenway Park.