Photos by Mark C. Austin
There has to be an unspoken rule from now on that solo albums from the lead singers of big rock bands should be studio-only affairs. These are meant to fulfill record-company contracts, and should never be passed off as an extra insight into the artistic machinations of an otherwise powerful and enigmatic frontman or sideman.
Scott Weiland falls into the category from now on. Saturday was three strikes, Mr. Weiland. Didn't you learn anything from Sixx A.M or even the oeuvre of Rob Thomas? Hell, what about Bill Wyman, Mick Jagger, Gene Simmons, and sorry, but even Sting's solo ego-baiters? When you're a good 40 minutes late to trot out your decent solo album in front of a crowd of fans who only know you from Velvet Revolver and that one song off The Crow soundtrack, there are bound to be some setbacks.
There's nothing wrong with being fashionably late and coming out to the stage in a fog of cigarette smoke and dressed like a foppish member of Al Capone's crew. In fact, Aftermath champions this. Just not by an artist who needs a dynamic backing band behind him like Snoop Dogg needs cannabis to live or he evaporates.
Weiland needs the Stone Temple Pilots again. He doesn't need Velvet Revolver. VR needed him more than he did them. All they needed was a relatively young face to front their weathered and workmanlike radio-rock. Weiland doesn't need to prance like a five-year-old girl in front a gaggle of lucky studio musicians and do painfully long freak-jams like some sort of bastard son of Jim Morrison circa American Prayer.
That's not to say that last year's solo "Happy" In Galoshes is a bad record. It just doesn't breathe live. Saturday night, Weiland and his band did a set of highlights from his solo career, now two albums old, and a trio of STP singles. (Thankfully, that band is mulling a studio visit this spring.)
Opener "Reel around the Fountain" was a Smiths cover, but all the pain and tragedy was sucked out and replaced with a wanky five-minute Ambien commercial. "Paralysis" is a quick stab into STP territory, with feedback adorning breakup lyrics. "Vasoline" and "Interstate Love Song," both from STP's 1994 disc Purple, are evergreens that can't really be fudged up too bad.
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But in the hands of studio guys, you see what you miss without the DeLeo brothers. "Unglued," also from Purple always reminded Aftermath of a lost Bad Brains track, albeit at half-speed. This past year of was one of death and romantic loss for Weiland, so maybe this those dark days have come to roost as a maudlin solo album.
Hopefully he's saving some of that extra vitriol for STP's comeback STP album. Or at worst, a one-off record with the dudes that back up Axl Rose now, whoever they are.
Setlist photo by Craig Hlavaty. For more Mark C. Austin pictures, see spin.com.