Thank you, Scott Weiland, for not becoming another boring old rock 'n' roll casualty. Thanks also for making up with your mates in Stone Temple Pilots, and for realizing that all-star bands like your short-lived Velvet Revolver are never as good as the horses you rock stars rode in on.
And thanks most of all, Scott, for giving '90s rock fans a sorely needed nostalgia fix, which your STP did with surprising gusto Friday at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul.
The going line on STP -- out on its first tour in eight years -- has always been that it's a second-rate answer to Pearl Jam, Nirvana or Soundgarden, all groups whose blueprints can be traced in its music. Since none of them is playing here this year -- and since Weiland's project with the ex-Guns 'N Roses players (Velvet Revolver) accomplished little of note -- we'll take STP.
Unlike the bloated 2 1/2-hour Smashing Pumpkins reunion gig at Wilkins last year, this one included all the original members (guitarist Dean DeLeo, bassist Robert DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz). And at 100 minutes, it was streamlined enough never to lag.
A mere five songs into the set, the quartet had already dealt out four tunes off the radio (in order): "Big Empty," "Wicked Garden," "Big Bang Baby" and "Vasoline." Considering that a good portion of the 4,000 plus fans likely were too young to have ever caught STP live, it was a lasting first impression.
The set peaked three-quarters of the way through when "Plush" and "Interstate Love Song" arrived back-to-back, with the crowd singing along word-for-word. But the band kept up its momentum through the finale, "Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart," in which Weiland emphasized, "I'm not dead and I'm not for sale."
Wherever his well-publicized substance-abuse problems are at, the needle-thin singer looked and sounded healthy. He slithered around the stage like a cross between Iggy Pop and Tool's Maynard James Keenan. The Clint Eastwood-like poncho and hat ensemble he wore at first was, um, bad and ugly. But then he took them off to reveal a bobbed, blonde-with-pink-stripes hairdo and effeminate blouse that made him look like a punk-rock LPGA golfer.
It's hard to believe that, after eight years, Weiland had nothing better to talk about on stage than the Star Tribune advertisement hanging on the balcony of the auditorium.
"Let's just see what it says in the morning in the Star Tribune," he said with a snide air.
Perhaps he was just randomly blabbing. But it seemed an odd coincidence that this was the 1-in-100 concert where the standard reviewer tickets failed to show up at the box office, on that same day a bit in the newspaper mentioned Weiland's personal problems and the low expectations for the tour. (Why else were tickets still available at showtime?)
Either way, in these challenging times, the Strib will take all the promo it can get.
Thank you, Scott.
See a set list at startribune.com/poplife.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658