Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stone Temple Pilots @ Festival Hall, Melbourne (19/03/2011)

 Stone Temple Pilots @ Festival Hall, Melbourne (19/03/2011) 

STP performing PLUSH in Melbourne, March 2011. 

19 years after the release of their debut album Core, Stone Temple Pilots finally set foot on Australian soil. Was it worth the wait? An unsurprisingly sold-out Festival Hall treated openers Grinspoon kindly, despite older tracks such as Champion having aged as terribly as some of the tired old rock-dogs who had dusted off their old Van Halen and Aerosmith t-shirts just for the occasion.
The sparsely decorated stage was treated only with flood lights and a large psychedelic banner, a 15-foot reminder of STP’s latest – and extremely underwhelming – self-titled release. Set opener Crackerman instantly animated the audience, who threw themselves about as energetically as the band did. They followed with Wicked Garden and Vasoline, which almost the entire audience followed with volume and fervour. For a band that’s almost 20-years old and well passed its prime, they looked and played as if they hadn’t aged a day.

Three songs in and Scott Weiland had the audience eating out of his hand. As one of the best front-men in the business, he knows how to work an audience as few others do. The floor followed his movements from one end of the stage to the other, as he threw himself around with a youthful agility that belied a past of well-document excess.

Heaven and Hot Rods followed the perfectly executed introduction preceding it. The band then diverged into Between the Lines and Hickory Dichotomy from their latest album, which was met by a reserved audience, many of whom seemed unfamiliar with the songs. It was a reminder that the Stone Temple Pilot’s of 2011 are definitely not the Stone Temple Pilot’s of 1994, although this fact was pleasantly ignored each time they ventured back into those songs from the 1990’s.

Dean DeLeo’s huge, and somewhat lazy blues-inspired riffs tore through Still Remains and Big Empty. Drummer Eric Kretz and bassist Rob DeLeo impressively nailed the rhythmically driven Dancing Days by Led Zeppelin, which wasn’t met with the rapture it deserved by anyone except a few diehards scattered amongst the floor. Following this the band launched into a huge version of Silvergun Superman, backed-up by Plush and Interstate Love Song. They performed these songs with a genuine enjoyment, which bands that have been playing the same songs for close to 20-years could be expected to lack. Again the audience followed the huge choruses, occasionally drowning out Weiland’s own vocals.

Weiland was either quiet or indecipherable between songs. He introduced Huckleberry Crumble – another new song – to a similarly reserved response, after which he attempted to speak on behalf of one of the many tragedies around the world. This led to him repeating the word “freedom!” over and over, much to the audience’s consternation. The thick chugging riff’s of Down filled out the venue and then gave way to an uninspired version of the Door’s Five to One, which tested both the audience’s patience and enthusiasm.
Arguably the greatest moment was Sex Type Thing, which regained the attention of the crowd and thankfully eclipsed the lifeless Five to One. It was a pity that they basically ended it there. Leaving the stage for a short period they returned and closed with Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart.

At the conclusion of the song they met shoulder-to-shoulder, arrested by the loud and steady applause emanating from an audience that harvested a desire for more. The band wandered across the stage thanking almost every square inch of audience they could see. As they walked off the lights dimmed and the audience started up again, attempting to coerce the band into another encore. But when the house lights came on and the roadies started dismantling equipment, a long and justifiable sigh filled the venue.
For a band with such a strong back catalogue of material, the set contained some strange choices. The contrast between the new songs and the old reaffirmed the belief that the best years of their recording career are probably far behind them. But with albums like Core, Purple, Tiny Music… and No. 4 this hardly matters. It’s a wonder why it took them so long to come here, and if they ever find to time to return let’s hope they don’t forget Dead & Bloated. - Review hoipolloi906 from

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