By Chad Baalman
It has been less than three years since Chickenfoot emerged as a rock supergroup, yet in seeing the band on stage, one would think they have been together for three times that long.
Chickenfoot continued their 20-date North American “Different Devil” tour Wednesday with a stop at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis’ Grand Center district and brought the good times with them.
As usual, leading the way as the master of fun was lead singer Sammy Hagar, who at age 64, belies his years with a ‘party hard’ disposition, but does it without making appearances in the police blotter. “This here is a special band for me,” said Hagar, referring to guitarist Joe Satriani, bassist Michael Anthony and drummer Kenny Aronoff. The veteran Aronoff is touring with the band in place of Chad Smith, who is currently on the road with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Hagar deftly worked the stage as much as he did the crowd, one which was predominately made up of the 40 to 50-year-old male demographic.
The “Red Rocker,” who donned a red Cardinals jersey loaned to him by a fan with his name and the number 55 on the back, flirted with Satriani by putting a sticker on the guitarist’s bald dome and then teased him about finding alien life on earth. Maybe it was not so much as a nod to Satriani’s 1987 disc Surfing with the Alien as it was Hagar reminding fans of his alien abduction. Go ahead and search “Hagar Alien CNN” on YouTube.
Hagar certainly didn’t ignore his buddy Anthony, who he played in Van Halen with from 1985 to 1996 and again from 2003-05. On a couple of occasions Hagar asked “Mikey” what was in his cup. Anthony replied once with “tequila,” but added the caveat, “I like to switch it up. Tequila one night, then rum the next, tequila, rum and then….Jack (Daniel’s)!”
Of course the whiskey flows upstream with what Hagar drinks. He started the Cabo Wabo tequila brand and now pitches Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum. “You traitor!,” Hagar quipped. Surprisingly, Anthony didn’t get a plug-in for his own line of Mad Anthony’s hot sauce.
Chickenfoot is like a band of brothers, though it’s more of a brotherly love as opposed to fighting like brothers (hint, wink, nudge). Wednesday wasn’t just hugs and high-fives for Chickenfoot, who are touring in support of their album from last fall, Chickenfoot III.
The 100-minute, 14-song set was almost exclusively culled from Chickenfoot’s short catalog. No Sammy solo material here – there’s more than one way to rock – and certainly no Van Halen songs. Satriani started things off with the spotlight on him and stepped on the pedal with the stirring, Deep Purple and Jon Lord-inspired intro to “Lighten Up,” a perfect way to open to the show.
“Sexy Little Thing,” a taut, mindless and innuendo-filled rocker that highlights Anthony’s tremendous vocal range in support of Hagar, seemed to get the crowd’s juices flowing just past the quarter pole. Hagar and the guys turned pensive with “Something Gone Wrong,” if nothing to provide a change of pace before the 100 mph “Turning Left,” complete with NASCAR footage on the video screens.
In closing the main set with “Future in the Past,” the band celebrated its past with a video montage showing the guys in their early years.”When you come back around and things come full circle and you find out why you started it in the first place, that’s what makes it so (expletive) good,” said Hagar, before grabbing a cherry red Les Paul to show off his sometimes forgotten guitar exploits to help cap off the song.
The encore was highlighted by a five-star performance of the band’s latest single, “Different Devil.” Chickenfoot wrapped up the show a cover of “Rock Candy,” which Hagar dedicated to his late friend and bandmate Ronnie Montrose, who took his own life in March.
Black Stone Cherry, a four-man band from Kentucky, opened with 40 minutes of southern-flavored rock. The Fox crowd, evident they were there for Chickenfoot, rarely got out of their seats during the nine-song set, perhaps due to a less-than-engaging stage presence. Songs ranged from the sophomoric, yet catchy “Blame It on the Boom Boom” to the ballad “In My Blood” to the anthemic “Like I Roll.”
1. Lighten Up
2. Last Temptation
3. Big Foot
4. Sexy Little Thing
5. Soap on a Rope
6. Up Next
7. My Kinda Girl
8. Down the Drain
9. Something Gone Wrong
10. Turning Left
11. Future in the Past
12. Different Devil
13. Oh Yeah
14. Rock Candy (Montrose cover)
Black Stone Cherry setlist
1. Maybe Someday
2. Blind Man
3. Yeah Man
4. In My Blood
5. Like I Roll
6. White Trash Millionaire
7. Hoochie Coochie Man (Muddy Waters cover)
8. Rehab (Amy Winehouse cover)
9. Blame It on the Boom Boom