Something about Mark Tremonti and his guitar playing has always been a bright spot in the dullness of Creed… but not anymore. He needs to learn that a wah pedal is NOT supposed to be used to fill empty space and ruin a good guitar part, much less a crappy one.
Creed/Live Show Review
Artists: Creed w/ Course Of Nature, Sea Of Souls, 12 Stones, goneblind
WHen: July 11 2002
Location: Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater, VA
Word of warning: I am not a Creed fan anymore. I was before Human Clay came out, and even through that to some small extent, I was. But when Weathered came out, I totally lost hope in the band. So it was no surprise to me that my interest to see them here was pretty much zero. But, Course Of Nature, 12 Stones, and goneblind would hopefully make it an okay show. I’m so lucky I won my tickets, because if I’d paid the astronomical price Creed was asking, I’d have been gyped, slighted, etc etc etc. It was, without a doubt, the worst concert I’ve ever attended. Three good bands out of five is not an acceptable ratio when the band ones include the frickin headliner. So, let’s begin this journey into contempt and corporate rock.
First, on the small-ass side stage, there was goneblind, the hardest and easily best band at the show. A combination of the emo metal school of music and, as they put it, good old-fashioned Texas rock n’ roll. They were energetic and powerful, and they had a good sense for music too. They didn’t just stick to one feel or one tempo for too long, and they weren’t afraid to lose their minds for about ten people who stuck around (myself included). See, if bands had more enthusiasm like goneblind, this would never have happened. I say HURRAH for goneblind.
So I made my over to the lawn for the first band going on tonight, 12 Stones. I’d heard a little about them, but let it be known that I couldn’t hear anything thanks to extremely bad sound. They were low volume, muffled, and it was just horrendous. But… what little I did hear sounded, good, and they did have a lot of stage presence. I would have liked them if I could have heard them.
I went back over to the side stage to see who was playing (see, it wasn’t announced beforehand) and, much to my dismay, it was local dinosaurs Sea of Souls. They used to be a good combination of punk, metal, hard rock, and power. Now, they’re a Creed clone. So I saw them and left the area to go wait for Course Of Nature. I’d seen them before with Nickelback and Jerry Cantrell and was hoping for a good set from them. Thankfully, at least here, I was rewarded. They did a really good set, which included their current single “Wall Of Shame, “ their first single “Caught In The Sun,” their next single “Difference of Opinion,” and even a cover of “Creep” from Radiohead. They have a really good song they closed with called “After The Fall” that was pretty cool, and a great closer. All in all, Course Of Nature could really break big if they get good breaks like opening for Creed.
Speaking of Creed… they were next. So they came out with the usual little intro music then starting the first song. They opened with “Bullets” from the latest CD. Good opener, but Scott Stapp had some weird vocal filter added to his voice for the opening, and it was a bad, bad thing. Then he starts really singing the verses… off-key. I cringed. This was, sadly, a sign of things to come. Something about Mark Tremonti and his guitar playing has always been a bright spot in the dullness of Creed… but not anymore. He needs to learn that a wah pedal is NOT supposed to be used to fill empty space and ruin a good guitar part, much less a crappy one, like in the next song from the new CD… it was just horrific.
So they do “What If?” (from Human Clay) next and it was okay, until the part near the end of the song where Mark Tremonti has a short little guitar part to himself. Except he did it seven or eight times, by himself, and even managed to screw that up AND bore me. Next was “Say I”, also from Human Clay, and it was a bad choice from that CD… a totally uninteresting song. Combine that with the totally non-existent stage presence of Scott Stapp and Mark Tremonti and you get an idea of just how bad a song it was live. Thankfully, they at least did “Torn” here from My Own Prison to break the monotony that so far is Creed’s live show now.
So then Creed vanishes.
Some weird tribalesque music comes up and then some video on some monitors behind the band and this somehow prefaces the song “Who’s Got My Back” from Weathered. Whatever the case, it was a weak song live. Mark’s overuse of the wah pedal ruined it. So this somehow signaled that it was time for “One Last Breath.” At this point, Creed is just boring me to death live and proving to me that they should be back doing clubs
But then “One Last Breath” starts, and they reach for an even lower low. Mark plays the guitar part, but it’s all off-tempo. Somehow, Stapp makes it through that to get to the verses, which weren’t bad. But then the screaming high notes came up. I knew those were going to be a problem, but holy shit! He hit them and it was a sound that is akin to the sound a cat makes when it’s in heat. I cringed each and every time he went high. It was just… terrifying. As a singer, I can’t believe he was that bad and is fronting one of the biggest bands in the country. It just shows you how bad the current state of music is. Then Scott Stapp took a moment to wax poetic about how “One Last Breath” took on a new meaning over the last three months, although he never did say why, and though I know, I won’t say so that you can be as lost as everyone else was for the full concert effect). He introduced the next song as “ Weathered’ from the CD of the same name, but Mark Tremonti proceeded to play the opening to “ My Own Prison,” the title track of that CD. So they went with it, then Scott Stapp explained something that pretty much explains the entire night.
THE BAND HASN’T PLAYED TOGETHER IN THREE MONTHS, AT ALL!
So that’s supposed to explain a band that is, to this point, sucking in every way, shape, and form? Bullshit. If they’re a band that is headlining an amphitheater and stadium tour, they should be ready for the goddamn tour. They were NOT ready for this show. From that point onward, I proceeded to care not at all about the show, or so I’d thought. A song from the new CD comes up, and I see something weird. Scott Stapp is holding a guitar. It has an American flag as the design. And he’s pretty much not playing it. Finally, they drag on and eventually reach the obligatory guitar solo. Scott starts playing the guitar and it actually sounded pretty good to hear a real guitar underneath the solo. Sure, it was simplistic as hell, but it was something.
However, this does not save the band from sucking yet again with another new song from the new CD and then going to the extremely dull story before the ever more dull “With Arms Wide Open.” As is par for the course, Mark Tremonti ruins the song with the wah pedal and Scott is out of key again. The bright spot is the under-appreciated touring bassist, Brett Hestla of Virgos Merlot. He actually had stage presence during this song and was right on with his backing vocals, too. I applaud Hestla’s efforts at making Creed watchable, however in vain they came out to be. Stapp again spoke to the crowd about how the song “One” has also taken on a new meaning in light of 9/11 and he said “One nation, UNDER GOD, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Right there, I tuned him out. Anyone who thinks Creed isn’t a Christian band, please take note of this speech. Face the music, they are. I don’t fault them for it, but this pretty much reconfirms what everyone else has known.
Anyway, moving along, Scott Stapp totally kills “What’s This Life For?” by ruining the timing in the intro part. Something about this band and timing just doesn’t work out. Anyway, during the second chorus, Scott Stapp goes for some more high notes, and he did indeed crack on them a few times. Apparently, that was the end of the set, before the encore set. They came back out and started the encores with what will be their next single, “Don’t Stop Dancing.” Another mid-tempo old people song, this one featuring Mark Tremonti’s skill with an acoustic guitar… which was unnecessary to the extreme.
Suddenly, Scott Stapp has a guitar on his back again. So I was actually looking forward to the solo and hearing it be supported… and no sound came from it this time. Whoops. Oh well, no worries. Next was something I’m not sure even existed on CD, some weird thing in ¾ time that was just Scott singing and Mark playing, and I actually liked it. I think, however, it might have just been a lead-in for “Higher,” which sounded okay. Finally, luckily, joyfully, Creed closed with “My Sacrifice.” All I can say is, thank you Creed for eventually shutting the hell up.
Overall, this was the worst band I’ve ever seen live. I’ve seen them three times before this show and loved them live, but this was just terrible. I think the loss of Brian Marshall, their original bassist, had a lot to do with it. He seemed to be a better bassist in Creed than Brett Hestla is filling those large shoes. Plus, he had stage energy and it used to exist in Mark Tremonti and Scott Stapp. Oh for the days of yore. But as it stands, Creed live is not worth the money they’re asking for. This show wasn’t even worth the price I paid, which was nothing. I’d like to see goneblind again a lot, and Course Of Nature. I’m not going to count myself as having seen 12 Stones because of how bad the sound mix was, not to mention that I didn’t really see them, I kind of barely heard them. But really, no one could have saved this show from how bad it was. As big a Jerry Cantrell fan as I am (I consider him to be God), I’m going to pass on going to Richmond, VA to see him open for Creed just because Creed was that horrendous live.
DO NOT SEE CREED LIVE! DO NOT BUY TICKETS! THIS IS MY ONE PLEA!
If you do, you’ll find out what I meant. And also, if you do, may the gods have mercy on your soul.