“My first impression was that Chris was more joyous than I’d ever seen him before,” Settle said. “He’d always been, back in the early days especially, kind of a brooding performer, more introspective, sometimes looking down at his guitar most of the time with his hair in his face. At this show, it was the opposite of that.”
The "Black Hole Sun" singer performed at Detroit's Fox Theatre on Wednesday and hung himself in his hotel room later that night. The photographer noticed that Cornell was in a different space emotionally by the second song of the concert as he was giving out high fives and fist bumps to fans.
“He was really interactive with the audience,” Settle said. “He said it very sincerely, that ‘I’ve been telling people how great Detroit rock audiences really are.’ He said it like he really meant it. But then he followed it by saying, ‘I feel really sorry for the next city.'”
“I took that to mean at the time, he said it that the next city won’t compare to the show they would put on in Detroit. In retrospect… it almost sounded like he wasn’t going to show up in the next town. That kind of gives me pause.”
Even though he was clearly dealing with emotional turmoil, Settle says that Cornell seemed to be in fine form during the more than two-hour show.
“His voice was great. He was hitting all of the high notes,” Settle said. “The artistry of the band. This was not a retread. There was still a creative force. They weren’t just putting it on cruise control. It was one powerful band. That spark, the energy and the artistry
Another moment that struck Settle as strange was when Chris Cornell connected with his bandmates on stage.
“He got right up to (lead guitarist) Kim Thayil, right in his face, while he was singing. It’s been like pulling teeth getting a shot of them in the same frame, but that was different, too. And to me, these all seemed like positive things.”
As for his final song, Cornell performed a Led Zeppelin song called "In My Time of Dying." The tune was an unusual choice for the band and seemed all too foreboding for Settle.
“It’s a very odd choice to weave that in and now it does make you wonder. There is so much that does point to a person who perhaps knew what was coming up, which is so sad. It makes me look at my pictures to search his eyes to see if there is a clue, something he’s saying that people were missing.”
“His voice was the voice of a whole movement, more so than any of the others of that era. It’s heartbreaking.”
Settle concluded by addressing how Cornell went from showing such joy on stage to committing suicide in his hotel room.0comments
“To go from the stage and that crowd to the despair that one would feel to take their life in such a way… It’s a profound way to hurt yourself. It had to be a very deep pain to get someone to step out of life, with their kids in their life, a pretty profound hurt. That is one of the tragedies of suicide and mental illness and depression.”