Live Review: Stone Temple Pilots - Club Nokia, Los Angeles
Mon, 05 Jan 2009 15:21:55
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New Year's Eve is often anti-climactic. However, 2009 began with a "Big Bang Baby" for everyone at L.A. Live's Club Nokia. Stone Temple Pilots rang in the New Year with an explosive two-hour set comprised of classics. In many ways, it was the perfect rock show.
The past year marked Stone Temple Pilots' reunion and return to the road. Last night felt like another new beginning for rock n' roll though. Few rock bands can do what Stone Temple Pilots does. There's a certain chemistry and magic that these four individuals conjure, and it was present more than ever at Club Nokia. The festivities began with "Silvergun Superman." Dean DeLeo's guitar rumbled, practically shaking the building. Eric Kretz pounded his drum kit like every inch of his being depended on it, bashing out the big groove. Meanwhile, Robert DeLeo's bass lines teetered between hard rock grit and funk gusto. Then, Scott Weiland took to center stage. Clad in a classy black suit with sunglasses and a black hat, he defined dapper for the 21st century. His voice felt impenetrable during the song's poignant chorus, and Stone Temple Pilots instantly hypnotized the crowd. Weiland stood on the center stage monitor, moving his hands like an orchestra conductor at the end of the world. It was a classical scene worthy of a painting, and it was a rock show that no one will forget.
After the first big applause, Weiland spoke in between drags of a cigarette. "It's almost upon us. It's nice to be back in Los Angeles. So here we go." He guided the audience through an incendiary "Wicked Garden." Once again, that undeniable voice reverberated through the night, and the fans couldn't help but fall under its spell. "Big Bang Baby" and "Vasoline" highlighted the brotherly bombast between Robert and Dean. Robert grooved harder than hell on "Big Bang Baby," bolting down the beat with his bass. On "Vasoline," Dean ripped through a solo that seamlessly melded blues pain with a metallic prowess. Weiland even got to his knees, lurching in a bow towards Dean during the lead. Dean remains one of the most versatile and powerful guitarists to emerge from the early '90s, in addition to being a hell of a songwriter. The display between Dean and Scott had that classical frontman-axeman mystique that's been missing since Page and Plant.
Starting "The Big Empty," Weiland sparked up another cigarette in tandem with Dean's slide guitar solo. The somber classic opened the door into Weiland's psyche. It was slow, and every syllable resounded. He clung to the mic stand during the chorus, bellowing, "Conversations kill." He didn't need to say much in between songs that night because the music said everything. Weiland's gone from grunge-era prophet to bona fide rock god. He has a style and swagger that's more Frank Sinatra than Kurt Cobain. That duende makes Stone Temple Pilots the live juggernaut that they are. Forget the drugs and the legal drama. That's all irrelevant. Weiland's the best frontman to emerge from the storied early '90s scene, and he's still relevant.
A creepy "Lounge Fly" gave way to the dream pop of "Lady Picture Show," illustrating the band's diversity. "Sour Girl" simply soared, and "Creep" led into some seriously psychedelic jamming. "Interstate Love Song" and "Plush" proved their classic status. As it got closer to midnight, Weiland and Co. didn't bother with any cheesy countdown. Rather, 2009 just began naturally. It was as organic and real as the set had been up to that point.
Another highlight was the poppy diatribe, "Too Cool Queenie," which saw Weiland come to life more than ever before. After "Down," pink and white balloons dropped from the ceiling, and the audience roared. They were less interested in New Year's Eve festivities and more into the music.
After a fiery "Sin," the band left the stage. A calm swept over Club Nokia, but the silence was quickly smashed. Stone Temple Pilots ended the unforgettable show with "Dead and Bloated" and then "Trippin' On a Hole In a Paper Heart." Before "Trippin'," Weiland jested, "I think this would be the time when we'd all be trippin'." The songs' choruses penetrated the crowd's roars, and they made for the perfect encore.
Earlier in the set, Weiland made one statement that summed everything up though. He said, "Rock n' roll never dies." It never will, and neither will Stone Temple Pilots—one of the genre's most important bands ever, no matter the year.