After being ousted from rehab/rock supergroup Velvet Revolver, troubled singer Scott Weiland fell back into the waiting arms of his former bandmates in 90's Grunge kings Stone Temple Pilots and the band hit the road.
As expected the reunion tour has been quite successful but also met with its share of bumps without including Weiland's November DUI arrest.
So far the tour has been met mostly with good reviews for the rest of the band, Robert and Dean DeLeo on bass, vocals and guitar respectively and drummer Eric Kretz. As usual Weiland has been the wildcard with both critics and fans noting nights when he mumbled incoherently and seemed disinterested and/or impaired and other nights when prowls the stage as the golden grunge god of yore.
Monday night at U of A's stately E.J. Thomas Hall, both the band and Weiland were in a happy place as they played a two hour set filled with the band's many 20th century hits.
The band played Cleveland a scant two months ago, so their quick return to Northeast Ohio is a bit of a surprise and surely had the folks at Live Nation quietly gnawing their collective fingernails wondering if they had saturated the local STP market. While their worst fears were allayed as the crowd was healthy, there were chunks of empty seats on all three levels of the venerable concert hall but the folks that showed up were definitely not feeling saturated.
Weiland sporting a burgundy fedora, jeans, two scarves, sport jacket, sunglasses and Rolling Stones T-shirt (most of which would eventually come off to reveal his still very thin, wiry frame) started the show of a bit slowly with a low energy take on the power ballad Big Empty which like much of the set became a group sing along.
Weiland whose early set banter suggested that he thought he was in Cleveland made several references to his childhood days spent in Chagrin Falls and even briefly wore a jersey from the Kentston school district he attended as a teen. Weiland whose banter, like his singing got better as the evening progressed also admitted he was a Notre Dame fan (drawing many boos from the crowd) and praised former Fighting Irish/Browns quarterback Brady Quinn(drawing a mixed reaction).
Local references always help warm up a room. But the crowd, a mixture of folks who were probably flying the flannel during the band's hey-day and younger fans who were likely dipping into their older siblings CD collections, didn't need much encouragement to sing/shout along to the string of hits that included Wicked Garden, the churning Big Bang Baby and the still taut single Vaseline.
During their commercial heights S.T.P. got a bad critical rap and was lumped in with the wave of grunge also-rans such as Candlebox (also reunited), Bush, Seven Mary Three and others that would pollute the airwaves for the next few years and make piles of money for their record companies. Truthfully, STP's massive selling debut Core still sounds too much like a Mainstream Grunge Blueprint when compared to the Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains records by which it was preceded (not to mention the Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Melvins, Tad and others that proceeded the Seattle stars).
That album also contains many of the band's most enduring hits and almost half of its contents made the set list.
But the band also dipped into personal favorites such as Lounge Fly and Lady Picture Show and Too Cool Queenie from the band's last and least popular album of new material Shangri-La Dee Da . There were also few apparently spontaneous and seemingly out-of-place funk jams between tunes, perhaps a preview of the band's possible recording future.
Playing in front of a huge video screen showing mostly abstract images save a car chase from Bullitt, the 40 year old Weiland's patented stiff, herky-jerky stage movements have gained a bit of extra stiffness but he was pretty energetic, using the entire space and even walking into the crowd during the metal-flavored Down. A few times his vocal fastball seemed to have lost a bit off its top end, but mostly his Vedder/Morrison-esque growls and wails were intact as was his trusty bullhorn and he seemed to empty his lungs on Plush despite having most of the audience singing the song just as loud as he.