LIVE REVIEW: Stone Temple Pilots @ Metro Theatre, Sydney (21/03/11)

written by Chris Familton

For diehard fans it must have been a pant-wetting moment when they heard that Stone Temple Pilots had added a 2nd Sydney show to their tour – at the 1100 capacity Metro Theatre. The excitement would have also been heightened by the surprising fact that this was the band’s first Australian tour. You would have thought they’d have been a sure shot for a mid 90s Big Day Out slot. All of this meant expectations were high, the room was full and the buzz was palpable.

Redcoats from Melbourne had the opening honours and they played a take it or leave it wailing rock set. They’ve got great hair and some interesting dynamics between the rhythm section and guitar but it all sounded a little flat and uninspiring. Singer Emilio Mercuri can hit the high notes but he did so all the time without varying his range enough and his voice either lacked the power to project strongly or he was the victim of dubious support band mixing.

After a tension building wait STP took to the stage and launched straight into the opening left/right combination of Crackerman and Wicked Garden from their debut album Core. The latter in particular sounding magnificent with the glam guitar crunch and Scott Weiland’s melodic growl soaring into the first lift-off chorus of the evening. What struck me seeing STP live was how unique the melting pot of influences that makes up their sound is. They were never part of the grunge scene but they took elements of it and ground it into their core template of classic blues-based rock, glam hair metal and big bold pop music.

Second album Purple got a few airings with the slow build of Big Empty, the breezy hooks of Interstate Love Song which felt tentative and mistimed and Vaseline which was the first big crowd moment with the Sydneysiders getting into full voice while Weiland prowled the stage, slowly reducing his rock n roll powerbroker suit down to a t-shirt and tie between tai-chi lizard moves and Bowie poses. Weiland looked in almost rude health, nothing like the skeletal figure of Velvet Revolver and showing few signs of the chemical life he has lived other than the occasional vacant stare and lack of interaction with the audience. It mattered little when he was nailing the songs with passion and embracing them with conviction.

It was also great to hear the new songs fit so comfortably with their older material. Between The Lines, the first single from their recent self-titled album was bold, sassy and brash and sounded fantastic while a couple of other new ones showed a rootsy southern rock swagger starting to infiltrate their sound.

The rest of the band were near flawless in their execution, especially guitarist Dean DeLeo who has grown into a stellar player, particularly his soloing and slide work. Brother Robert on bass was like a strutting peacock wringing notes from the neck of his instrument and generally looking happy like a pig in shit.

They finished their main set with a surging Sex Type Thing, possibly their angriest song, before returning to slam through a two song encore of Dead and Bloated and an absolute killer version of Trippin’ On A Hole In A Paper Heart from their most underrated album …Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop. With a group bow and genuine signs of humble and weighty gratitude the quartet left the stage leaving an audience totally satiated. They had made up for the long wait and done justice to their back catalog with an expectation-exceeding performance full of swagger, energy and sweat.

this review first appeared on FasterLouder

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