Live Review: Creed — The Wiltern, Los Angeles
Wed, 16 May 2012 08:19:38
"This is the heart of the Human Clay album," Creed singer Scott Stapp announced before launching into "Say I" at the Wiltern last night.
That song remained emblematic of the raw power inherent within Creed's sound. A towering riff from virtuoso Mark Tremonti built up the groove right before crashing down into scorching leads. Eric Friedman lit up the solo section with deft proficiency that seamlessly segued into Tremonti's dreamy and deadly shredding. Bassist Brian Marshall doubled-down the rhythm in tandem with Scott Phillips's artful pounding on the drums. Stapp launched into a haunting and gruff spoken word mid-song, and "Say I" rose from the ground just like Human Clay's cover subject.
That was just one of many magical moments during Creed's triumphant performance of Human Clay in Los Angeles this past eve. The group maintains some of the most impressive musical chops out there, and Stapp's voice sounded utterly pristine the entire show.
However, the run-through of the record began in epic form with Friedman bringing the intro of "Are You Ready?" to life with a mandolin. Every element of the band immediately shined—from Tremonti's magnificent mastery of the guitar to Stapp's divine wail. "What If" rode in on a wah-pedal warble that immediately transfixed the packed crowd, while Tremonti's staggering fretwork on "Beautiful" resounded intimately alongside Stapp's big baritone. The tense breakdowns on "Wrong Way" and "Faceless Man" illuminated just how tight the rhythm section of Marshall and Phillips unshakably remains. Meanwhile, Friedman's acoustic guitar on the latter simply shimmered. Stapp fell to his knees delivering a potent verse as Tremonti's playing practically lifted them both off the stage.
The light towers flashed forebodingly during "Never Die" while the finger-picked intro of "With Arms Wide Open" alone brought the crowd to its feet for a massive sing-a-long. As expected, "Higher" shook the foundation of the Wiltern. On the other end of the spectrum, "Wash Away the Years" proved elegantly dramatic and foreboding. The album segment closed out with a rapturous "Inside Us All" that saw Stapp practically explode with infectious emotion and energy. He's nothing short of invigorating on stage. Everything culminated with more impromptu shred from Tremonti.
Soon, the roller coaster to a speeding drop into the band's heaviest output, "Bullets". Friedman churned out strange transmissions from his axe as Tremonti ripped through a thrash-infused run as strobes flashed behind him. Stapp screamed like his life depended on it, and the song pummeled. Tremonti's lyrical phrasing kicked off "Torn" from My Own Prison and before the title track the vocalist announced, "This was our introduction to the world". He captivated with each word and hook from there out. "One" felt like an inspiring call-to-arms, while "One Last Breath" was utterly breathtaking.
Human Clay was a breakthrough for Creed, and it's a seminal modern rock album. Seeing it live only upheld that. Most importantly though, the men on stage deserve to be lauded unanimously. There are few bands that tight who still boast real showmanship and infectious songwriting. Given how powerful these shows are, their next record promises to be the biggest blockbuster of all. Hopefully, we'll be enjoying that from start-to-finish live as well.
Were you there?