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Concert Reviews:
New-look Stone Temple Pilots prove potent at the Fillmore Detroit

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2015

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DETROIT -- It took just eight songs for Detroit Rock City to embrace the new-look Stone Temple Pilots.

The group had just finished "Coma" on Wednesday night, Sept. 16, at the Fillmore Detroit when the chants of "STP! STP!" started coming from the crowd, clearing moving the four band members onstage. "It's a pleasure to be here," bassist Robert DeLeo said. "It's (expletive) great to see you all!"

STP, of course, has gone through a substantial change during the past two and a half years, firing original singer Scott Weiland and continuing on with Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, himself an ardent STP fan growing up. Some of the band's faithful have been openly skeptical and even derisive on social media championing Weiland as the only true frontman for STP and the current lineup as nothing more than a tribute act.

But on Wednesday, Bennington and company proved itself worthy of the name, roaring through nearly two hours of charged, heavy rock with the energy and exuberance of STP in its 90s prime. Playing just one song from "High Rise," the current incarnation's sole EP, the quartet concentrated on established STP favorites and some welcome deep cuts, consciously staking its claim over the course of the 22-song set.

And though his higher singing register necessitated some occasionally jarring key changes, Bennington channeled Weiland's best in his suit and fedora, prowling the stage with lithe, almost balletic movements. "I (expletive) love this band!" he declared at one point. "One of the greatest gift of my life is playing with these three men here." Bennington was also willing to sacrifice his body for the opportunity; during "Down" he tripped and fell into Eric Kretz's drum kit and later had to re-start "Trippin' On a Hole in a Paper Heart," explaining that, "My brain is somewhere else right now. I can't feel my (expletive) left hand. I really (expletived) myself up over there."

Nevertheless, he soldiered through the song and the two encore numbers that followed, gripping the microphone just fine with the injured hand and telling one inquiring fan, "I'm OK...As long as this (pointing to his throat) works, I'm alright."

It certainly did, and so did the rest of the band on Wednesday. STP started with a take-no-prisoners blast-off of "Wicked Garden," "Sex Type Thing," "Vasoline" and "Big Bang Baby" before dipping into the rarely played "Pruno." Guitarist Dean DeLeo laced solos through more dynamically advanced songs such as "Coma," "Sin" and "Lounge Fly," while Bennington further cemented his STP pedigree on the back-to-back pairing of slower "Creep" and "Big Easy" before diving into the pit in front of the stage to lead the crowd through a restrained arrangement of "Plush."

Though the mosh pits were half-hearted (it's been awhile since those folks were in their headbanging prime, after all), the Fillmore crowd was enthusiastic enough for Bennington to note that, "You're so loud I can't even hear the band on stage!" And those fans certainly maintained their exuberance through a closing run of "Interstate Love Song," "Down," "Sex & Violence," "Trippin'..." and the encores "Piece of Pie" and "Dead & Bloated."

It remains to be seen if this STP make music that geniunely adds to the group's established canon. But on Wednesday the group proved it was capable of keeping the catalog alive and well and sounding as vital as it ever has.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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