Stone Temple Pilots arrived at the Pearl last Thursday on a tide of bad buzz about their reunion tour, with rumors circulating about singer Scott Weiland’s substance-abuse problems, chronic lateness and difficulty remembering song lyrics. But the band’s first Vegas date since 2001 started more or less on time, and while Weiland was allegedly getting wasted in a Palms bar before the gig, it was hard to tell whether his incoherent between-song banter should be ascribed to inebriation or just general weirdness.
Vocally, Weiland wasn’t exactly in top form; he sounded ragged and worn much of the time, and did flub the occasional line. But he got an A-plus for rock-star swagger, showing off his rail-thin frame and new bleached blond hairdo while stalking the stage and rousing the enthusiastic, capacity crowd. And the rest of the band—guitarist Dean DeLeo, bassist Robert DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz—were tight and efficient, playing the songs as if they’d taken no time off at all.
Those songs were generally the ones that everyone wanted to hear—STP played all but one of the tracks off its greatest-hits compilation Thank You, and threw in only a handful of welcome obscurities (most enjoyably the off-kilter “Too Cool Queenie,” from 2001’s Shangri-La-Dee-Da). The early part of the show seemed a little lethargic, but things picked up around halfway with a powerful version of “Crackerman,” and even though the band members didn’t interact much, they did deliver what people come to a reunion tour for.
That is, plenty of competent nostalgia and little to no deviation from the expected. Aside from a slightly botched rendition of “Sour Girl,” nothing in the show went awry, but nothing was particularly striking, either. Although the band has talked about recording new material following this tour, the concert felt more like a victory lap than a new beginning. Assuming Weiland manages to keep it together for the remaining dates, it’ll be interesting to see if his band moves forward or remains content to live comfortably in the past.
The bottom line: ***