Although no one in this crowd was going to risk breaking a bone and missing this performance, concertgoers were each handed a “no stage diving or body surfing” flyer.
This is what happens when a rock god with three successful bands and two solo CDs comes to town. Forget that half of the fans at this show were too heavy to lift, and that another half were buying drinks for two—the patrons wanted to protect their assets. Understandable.
With his signature bed-head hairstyle, the James Dean of grunge, Chris Cornell, took the stage. A sea of arms waved in the air all night. Chris and his four-piece band ripped through Soundgarden hits, “Spoonman,” “Jesus Christ Pose,” and “Outshined.” Somebody screamed “Rusty Cage,” and then it was played. Temple of the Dog songs, “Say Hello to Heaven” and “Hunger Strike” were pulverizing, except that one of the guitarist’s back-up vocals were off key in “Hunger Strike.” It was Chris’ voice we came for, however, and it was easy to hear why it’s considered one of the best in popular music. How many singers can scream a vibrato like Chris?
The four-piece band set the vibe for Chris to do his thing. Drummer Jason rocked the Pageant on its St. Louis foundations. The notes of Paul’s bass guitar were enough to shake the insides of audience members. The band roared through Audioslave hits also, entirely identifiable by the Tom Morello style solos that lead guitarist, Peter, played. The other guitarist, Yogi, showed his glee by poking the other musicians or playing in their face. Yogi played an electrifying solo on a Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” one of the few songs from Chris’s new solo CD, Carry On [Suretone/Interscope].
Most everybody recognized this soulful rock version of “Billie Jean” by the time Chris opened the second verse: “She said her name was Billie Jean/As she caused a scene.” Suddenly a middle-aged woman twisted her hand in the air above her head like Michael, and excited screams could be heard coming from men.
Chris and the band also played several other songs from Carry On, which were well received.
When the band took a break, Chris rocked acoustic versions of Audioslave’s “I Am the Highway,” and then the beautiful “Can’t Change Me” from his first solo CD, Euphoria Morning [Interscope]. His acoustic guitar sounded a bit scratchy plugged in, but again, the tone of Chris’ voice overshadowed any possibly unsavory sound.
Anyone could have known that an encore was eminent—“Black Hole Sun” hadn’t been played yet. Besides that, the crowd was not going anywhere. People when crazy for “Black Hole Sun” and Chris had no qualms about sharing the mic with the crowd, so he held it over them as they sang every word and tried to grab it. It is safe to say that regardless of the lack of stage diving and potential body and property damage that could have happened, Chris Cornell brought the house down several times with his voice alone.