Review: Stone Temple Pilots return to the stage in Tampa
There was only one question on everyone's mind Friday night, and that question was: Is Scott Weiland back?
Stone Temple Pilots' reunion tour had been derailed by Weiland's weird onstage behavior, forcing the band to cancel a dozen or so dates this month and last. Friday's gig at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa was their first show in three weeks, and thus was the world's first chance to see if Stone Temple Pilots could still string together 90 minutes' worth of coherent music.
All week, no one was sure if the Tampa show would really go down. Weiland had already flaked on Tampa once before. And the other day, he gave an incredibly awkward, pause-filled interview to 102.5 The Bone that Spin and TMZ called "bizarre." (Listen to it here.) Still, 7,365 fans turned out at the Forum, and wonder of wonders, Weiland showed up, too.
So now that Friday's concert is in the books ... how'd he do?
In a word: Fine. Scott Weiland was fine. He showed up on time, sounded great, didn't flake out or ramble, and clearly wasn't lip-synching, as some reports have suggested. On the other hand, he looked a little tired, he had to take multiple sips from an array of bottles and cups on the drum riser, and the set was cut short by a couple of songs.
But he wasn't a train wreck, not by any means. Stone Temple Pilots were fine. Weiland was fine. The '90s revival can keep on rolling.
Dressed like they just came from a fashion shoot, STP came out promptly at 9:30 p.m. following an intense set by the brooding Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and launched into one of the highlights of the night, the forgotten classic Crackerman. That was followed by three more songs from STP's heyday, Wicked Garden, Vaseline and Heaven and Hot Rods.
Talk about a fan-friendly setlist. If Stone Temple Pilots did just reunite for the nostalgia money, whoever's paying them is certainly getting their money's worth. The band played just four songs off their new self-titled album, compared to five from Purple (1994) and four from Core (1992). Most of the songs were high-energy rockers; singles that didn't make the cut included the lethargic Creep, the poppy Sour Girl and the ballad Lady Picture Show. For my money, the set was better off without them.
When they're on, no band has ever combined grunge and glam better than Stone Temple Pilots, much to fans' delight and critics' chagrin. Two of Core's unimpeachable smashes, Plush and Sex Type Thing, prompted huge chant-alongs from the audience. Even a new song, Between The Lines, got the pit singing.
The DeLeo brothers filled the arena with their own tight musicianship, and they were as fun to watch as ever. But of course, no one could take their eyes off Weiland.
Considering all he's been through, it's perhaps unfair to pick apart Weiland's performance with tweezers and a magnifying glass. Stone Temple Pilots fans -- and I am one -- had to come away from Friday's show feeling satisfied.
But Weiland brought this extra attention on himself by canceling all those concerts, right? So let's get a-nitpickin':
--- Let's all agree that from a physical standpoint, Scott Weiland has probably never been 100 percent at any point during his professional life. (Scott Weiland at 100 percent is a purely theoretical state, much like absolute zero.) But at almost 43, he moves like a 50-year-old. (Guitarist Dean DeLeo actually IS almost 50, and he moved around the stage just as well as, if not better than, Weiland.) Weiland is often compared to a snake behind the mic, but truth be told, he has one basic stage move -- swaying from foot to foot, swiveling his torso ever so slightly, a bit like the Carlton Dance -- and it's a move one might associate with a much older rocker. You know who else dances like that? Ringo Starr. And he's 70.
--- Before the tour break, STP had been adhering to a pretty standard setlist on this tour, and the setlist that was taped to the stage looked pretty similar -- 19 songs. On Friday, I counted 16 that actually got played. STP didn't play Pretty Penny or their cover of Led Zeppelin's Dancing Days, and they left Dead & Bloated out of their encore. Was time a factor? Not by my watch. The band started right on time, and actually ended before 11 p.m., for a set that fell short of 90 minutes. Maybe the audio problems that plagued Weiland's earphones all night cost the band a few minutes that they simply couldn't make up.
--- In the aforementioned radio interview, Weiland insisted he's clean. We have no proof that he's not. What we can tell you is that between songs Weiland took turns sipping from four or five bottles and cups on the drum riser. One looked like a water bottle. One was a cup marked "tea." One looked like a Gatorade bottle, stripped of its the label, containing a yellowish liquid. For the sake of the fans in the remaining cities on STP's tour, let's hope it was G2 Orange.
What Scott Weiland had to show the world Friday night is that he's not irredeemable as a rock star. He succeeded in that, I think, though he really ought to hire a trainer and get his ass in touring shape. But his voice and magnetism are still spot-on, and that's all anyone really cared about.
"He actually showed up!" a woman next to me in the pit shouted. "And he's freaking amazing!"
Actually, what's freaking amazing IS that he showed up. The concert itself was just a bonus.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*.
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS SETLIST
Heaven and Hot Rods
Between the Lines
Interstate Love Song
Sex Type Thing
Trippin' On a Hole In a Paper Heart