Stone Temple Pilots @ Challenge Stadium, Perth (16/03/11)

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So, on entering the concert venue, it became obvious this show had not sold too well. Challenge Stadium appeared surprisingly small, as the stage was placed in the middle of the stadium with the back half cut off by curtains, and even in this area seats were covered with black fabric. It seemed strange, being the first ever show Stone Temple Pilots had played in Australia.

Grinspoon came out to play, and play they did. Phil Jamieson appeared carefree, happy as Larry. He pranced around stage with his signature feminine dance moves, encouraging bouncers to sing along, having a laugh and just generally playing the larrikin. The crowd started out stock still, with just a few of the punters getting into it at first. It was definitely a sausage fest of an evening, with many men in their black t-shirts and jeans displaying their enjoyment of the evening in the manliest way they could. The band was in fine form, with the three others obviously providing the backbone of the songs while Jamieson had his way. They had chosen a showcase of songs, some slow ones ( Chemical Heart ), some old ones ( Ready 1 ), some fast ones ( Run ) and some rough ones ( Champion ). There was also a surprise, with Scott Russo from Unwritten Law joining the band onstage midway through the set to sing More Than You Are with Jamieson. Russo and Jamieson appeared thick as thieves and it was a nice touch. Russo did some signature dance moves and joined Jamieson in his prancing around the place. It was quite the joy to have an Aussie band of such good standing as the support to this headliner that many had been waiting a long time to catch.

And then there was one band left to play. STP came onstage as owners of the arena, not caring if it were sold out or a dismal array of missing seats. Scott Weiland started out looking very dapper in a suit, and by goodness was he peacocking the stage. With a swaggery dance that appeared many times throughout the night, Weiland led the band in a way that led the fans to hang off his every note. The first song was one to wonder at, and showed that this band has aged like a fine wine. The musicality was obvious from the start and did not once falter throughout the night. There was zero laziness, zero taking things for granted, just 100% doing their best in a way that appeared effortless and undoubtedly cool.

Dean Deleo gave us the first guitar solo of the night which were then peppered throughout the show. It was something that we just don’t hear these days and something those living-room guitar heroes can aspire to. There was no bravado with this Deleo, nor the other brother, bassist Robert Deleo. They and drummer Eric Kretz seemed quite serene onstage, something that appeared to rub off on the audience. What appeared to be drunken men firing up at each other in the break before, became a united front of hypnotised onlookers. The audience grinned, cheered, and sang along, with fists punching the air. Although there were many dark and aggressive songs, the crowd were so transfixed as to not preoccupy themselves with thrashing about. Only one crowd surfer appeared throughout the evening, being passed around for just a few seconds, and just as gracefully disappearing.

It was Weiland providing much of the energy onstage. This enigma of a man made little small talk between songs, simply introducing the band later into the night. He was a natural performer, absorbing people’s eyeballs from afar. Slowly he stripped off his suit to one sweat drenched shirt, before leaving the stage and re-appearing having had a costume change into a more casual hooded jumper and t-shirt. When the jumper came off, out came his tatts, alluding to the wilder man that once was. His voice is a one-of-a-kind and a versatile one at that. The tonality ranged from resembling the purity of a guitar string, to a huskier vibrato displaying immaculate control. The music itself ranged in stylisation, from dark and heavy to jazzy little interludes. STP certainly showed there is a reason they’ve hung around for so long and it was a gracious, albeit small, Perth audience who got to share that with them for the first time in Australia.

The set list ranged from old to new, including: Wicked Garden, Vaseline, Heaven & Hot Rods, Between The Lines, Still Remains, Big Empty, Silvergun Superman, Interstate Love Song, Huckleberry Crumble, Down, Sex Type Thing and Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart.