Monday, April 27, 2015

Stone Temple Pilots at Irving Plaza

Chester Bennington (left) and Dean DeLeo
Stone Temple Pilots began in 1985 in San Diego, California. At first named Swing, then Mighty Joe Young, the group took the initials of STP motor oil and fielded many names with those initials until the members agreed on Stone Temple Pilots. Catching the grunge wave, the band's debut album in 1992 launched a successful career, and Stone Temple Pilots sold nearly 40 million records by the time the band split in 2002. Stone Temple Pilots reformed in 2008 for a reunion tour, then fired lead vocalist Scott Weilland in 2013 and continued with Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington. The band presently consists of Bennington and three original members, guitarist Dean DeLeo, bassist Robert DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz. The band's only recording with Bennington so far has been a 2013 five-track EP, High Rise.

Stone Temple Pilots was unable to hide the elephant in the room at Irving Plaza tonight. Stone Temple Pilots' most notable product was written and sung by someone who is no longer in the band, and the band has recorded little new music since his departure. Stone Temple Pilots performed 22 songs, and only one, the comparatively unknown "Out of Time," was recorded after Bennington joined the band two years ago. How could a hard rock fan listen to the old songs and not compare the revamped band to the previous personnel? Bennington was a fine singer, and added his own spin to the old songs, but not enough to prove that the new lineup was a distinct and credible band moving forward. More than halfway through the show, Dean DeLeo interrupted "Big Empty" to demand that someone in the audience be removed; was the offender a heckler? DeLeo offered no explanation. The band started the song again. While the band ably played the hits and many deep cuts, there was no way around the big emptiness in the performance. Perhaps the band should record a substantial amount of new material and introduce these songs into the live set so that the live show does not sound like karaoke night.

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