If you ventured to the swanky new Scottsdale venue Livewire on Friday night to catch Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts expecting a night of shenanigans from the former Stone Temple Pilots singer, it took only about 10 minutes into the band's 75-minute set to realize it wasn't going to be that kind of night. Weiland is still rock 'n' roll's Jekyll and Hyde. Recently, we've seen plenty of his uglier side, but on Friday night, he gave us glimpses of greatness and reminded us why we all know his name.
The band raged through opening track "Crackerman," from STP debut Core, as Weiland roamed the stage with his megaphone and signature moves. As the band played through songs from its Blaster record, the material really seemed better-equipped in a live setting than the retro vibe captured in the studio. Songs like "Modzilla" and "Amethyst" sounded much more like something you'd hear on STP's Purple or Tiny Music without the garage-like production. The band sounded fantastic and bassist Tommy Black and former Queens Of the Stone Age drummer Joey Castillo couldn't have been more in synch, while new guitarist Nick Maybury did justice to Dean DeLeo's STP riffs on tracks like "Meatplow" and "Vasoline."
While Weiland's voice was in good shape all night, the highlight of the evening was a cover of David Bowie's "The Jean Genie," which took his vocal tone to a new place. You could feel his love of Bowie throughout the song. They stepped up the STP classic "Dead and Bloated," which was difficult to process at first, as it lost a bit of its groove. For the encore, the band played the acoustic "Circles," which Weiland said was the first song they wrote in the Wildabouts, before closing with another STP staple, "Unglued."
When Weiland goes out and executes the way he did during Friday night's performance, you can see why it's easy to get frustrated with him, because he has all the tools to go down as one of the best rock stars of the past 30 years if he could just keep Mr. Hyde away.
Last Weekend: Scott Weiland and The Wildabouts at Livewire
The Crowd: There couldn't have been more than 200 people in the entire venue.
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Overheard: "I didn't know what to expect, I haven't heard many good things lately."
Personal Bias: I've been a fan since watching STP open for the Butthole Surfers at Mesa Amphitheatre when I was 15. I've opened for Scott Weiland, interviewed him multiple times, photographed him in STP, Velvet Revolver, as a solo act, and with the Wildabouts. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Random Notebook Dump: For as amazing as Livewire is, they could definitely have turned on some more lights so the band didn't look like it was playing in a basement.