“Have you heard that song… mumble… I met a girl… mumble… mumble… apropos… sometimes you make crazy choices… mumble… I apologize for…”
So, I saw Stone Temple Pilots, finally, on Saturday night.
They performed as part of 92.3 K-ROCK’s Return of the Rock show. K-ROCK’s pics of the show can be seen here. Ashes Divide, which is Billy Howerdel of A Perfect Circle‘s new band, and Filter opened. Ashes Divide was ok. I didn’t have the overwhelming sense of awe I experienced when I saw A Perfect Circle open for Nine Inch Nails in 2000. Instead, they sounded like a sort of more emo A Perfect Circle and, honestly, rather generic. The lead guitarist and the bassist both had Pete Wentz’s haircut, which I guess made up for Billy Howerdel’s bald head and seeming lack of all facial hair, including eyebrows. They did a nearly unrecognizable, but totally rocking version of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.”
Filter had absolutely no energy and was very boring.
Then we waited for an hour and 45 minutes. Yep…it certainly seems that Scott Weiland might need to go back to rehab. [Maybe he should hook up with Amy Winehouse? Ha!] I can’t confirm that he was under the influence, but it sure seemed like it. Either way, despite his apparent drug-induced state, STP rocked. [So all of you NKOTB lovers who put down STP can get over it.] The NY Times was a bit less forgiving in its review of the show, than I will be. I agree much more with the write up at TheMusic.FM, which also features video footage of the concert. More reviews, good and bad, of the show can be found at Below Empty. Some of the Times article’s concerns are valid, however. I was quite surprised the show didn’t end the tour considering the rest of the band’s stance on Scott and his actions in the past, though guitarist Dean Deleo has recently indicated to Entertainment Weekly that they will stick it out, thick or thin:
There’s an acceptance that STP has always been an unmade bed, you know?…It’s messy at times. But at the end of the day, you always crawl back into it.
All that aside, the show itself was fantastic. The DeLeo’s are amazing musicians. Robert really held the show together, both with his bass line, and via “Weiland disaster control” when he cut Scott off as he rambled incoherently. And then there’s Dean. He’s easily one of the greatest living guitarists. I heartily disagree with the Times‘ assessment of their playing. Dean’s guitar work shone and his solos were stellar.
After a few songs, Scott seemed to get his act together and did his thing. Which is, if nothing else, being an enigmatic front man and rock star. Perhaps he did mess up some lyrics. Perhaps his voice wasn’t the greatest. However, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t have this presence that was absolutely undeniable. He’s this virtuoso combination of the best, and worst, of David Bowie, Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop. It’s unfortunate the hold drugs have on him, if, in fact, he was using at the time. It demonstrates the power of hard narcotics over their users, despite those users seeming best attempts at getting free. It also, puts a different connotation, one that is not so hopeful and instead quite sad, to his discussion of being rehabilitated and drug usage in the Entertainment Weekly article:
There are a lot of junkies that have died with that Keith Richards poster pinned inside their minds. Like, ‘He can do it, what can’t I?’ But no one is Keith. God doesn’t make many of them. There’s going to come a time when I’m not going to feel very comfortable on stage in skinny jeans and boots, doing this thing. I want to evolve more gracefully and realistically.
[Here’s to hoping you can figure things out and finally get yourself together, Scott!]
During the main part of the concert, drug dazed and addled or not, he seemed more focused and with it, but, unfortunately, the seemingly cut short encore showed that something went on during their short break offstage. The encore consisted of only a brief, but interesting, jam between Robert, Dean and drummer Eric Kretz, and then one song, “Dead and Bloated,” and featured Weiland returning to stage even more incoherent than when he started. Perhaps if the Stone Temple Pilots reunion fails, the instrumental section of STP should form a jam band rather than attempt something like another Army of Anyone, their “supergroup” with Filter‘s front man, Richard Patrick. Army of Anyone, unlike Weiland and the rest of Guns ‘n’ Roses‘ group Velvet Revolver or Chris Cornell and the rest of Rage Against the Machine‘s group Audioslave, was a complete disappointment.
The set list was excellent, although as expected, drew heavily from the first three albums, and the first two in particular. I would have liked to have seen at least one more song from their last album, Shangri-La Dee Da, even though it wasn’t as well received as earlier albums (the only song featured from the album was “Coma”). I thoroughly enjoy the album and see it as a natural progression of their musical evolution. It is a culmination of their more grunge-y early stuff as heard in Core…which then saw expansion into new areas in Purple (most notably Weiland’s vocals coming into their own rather than sounding like imitation of then popular vocalists, like Eddie Vedder)…the major departure into more alt-pop-rock of Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop (which I always felt had a sort of Beatles-esque quality to it)…and then the aptly titled No.4, which diffused a lot of the heavier sounds of Core through Tiny Music. Shangri-La Dee Da added a much more modern experimentalism, though not as oddly and jarringly experimental as Weiland’s solo album 12 Bar Blues (I can’t wait to hear what his rumored new solo album will sound like…), particularly in Dean DeLeo’s guitar work. At the show it could have been cool if they had played “Regeneration” or “Hollywood Bitch” from Shangri-La Dee Da (since Weiland’s voice probably couldn’t have handled some of the album’s excellent softer songs, such as “Black Again” or “Bi-Polar Bear”). All in all, though the set list was fantastic and they played both my favorite song, “Interstate Love Song” (with Dean’s awesome slide guitar) and my wife’s favorite, “Lady Picture Show,” so neither of us could be mad about that.
So, while it wasn’t the perfect show I could have hoped for, STP still rocked and put on a good concert. Let’s hope they can keep it going, and maybe release a new album, as well.