Jeff Gutt has the hardest job in music. How do you front a band after it’s original singer, Scott Wieland, was found deceased on his tour bus and the band’s second singer, well-known and beloved Chester Bennington, moved on to focus on a different project and then also passes away? How do you approach that role? How do you go out there every night knowing that most fans are going to compare you to the original artist that they’ve heard on the radio and in person for almost 25 years? How do you slide in with the three founding members of the band who have been playing and touring together since 1990?
Judging from Stone Temple Pilots’ show at the Marquee in Tempe on Saturday night, it looks like you simply be yourself and let the music do the talking. Gutt has acknowledged “No one will ever fill Scott’s shoes and I’m not trying to – he’s a legend,” while at the same time recognizing that, “these songs deserve to be performed and people want to hear them.”
And judging from the Marquee crowd, Gutt’s absolutely right. The fans didn’t seem to care that Gutt’s the “replacement” singer. They were there for the music that they grow up with and loved. Gutt performed those songs, all of them, admirably. And the fans loved it. The music was authentically theirs regardless of who was singing it, they owned it and they simply loved it.
Original band members guitarist Dean DeLeo, bassist Robert DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz sounded tight and, as always, sounded great. Dean DeLeo played out front and demonstrated that he hasn’t lost a beat on numbers like Wicked Garden, Pruno, and Hollywood Bitch. Be he was perhaps most interesting and engaging on more textured songs like Big Empty and Interstate Love Song.
STP did something fairly unusual – they opened their show with two of their biggest hits. They launched right into 1992’s Wicked Garden followed immediately by 1994’s Vasoline. They hit a number of their top hits in the first dozen songs, including Army Ants, Big Empty, Plush, and Interstate Love Song. That being said, there also seemed to be a couple hit songs that were noticeably missing such as Creep and Sour Girl.
STP did something else fairly that was fairly unusual – they stopped in the middle of Still Remains to call out a man and woman who were pushing and shoving each other along the security barrier in front of the stage. Dean DeLeo simply shut it down and called out the two participants while security handled the situation. The band played a little musical interlude while the situation was being resolved, but they did not return to Still Remains until security had finished dealing with it.
Overall, the show was great. Gutt delivered a terrific performance of STP’s classic 90’s rock favorites and sounded authentic in doing so. The rest of the band sounded as tight and put together as you’d expect them to be. The staging and lighting were minimalistic – allowing the music to really be the focus of the show, as it should be. If you’re a lifelong fan of STP, as many in attendance clearly were, you came away entirely thrilled – feeling like you had the opportunity to hear most, if not all, of the songs you were hoping to hear live.
The set-list was:
- Wicked Garden
- Lounge Fly
- Army Ants
- Big Empty
- Interstate Love Song
- Still Remains
- Hollywood Bitch
- Roll Me Under
- Dead & Bloated
- Sex Type Thing
- Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart
- Piece of Pie