By Kevin Seaman
Now I’ve seen it all. Tuesday night, Scott Weiland performed for an audience of about 100 fans at the iHeartRadio Theater presented by P.C. Richard & Son in promotion of his new Holiday Album, “The Most Wonderful Time of The Year.” The album consists entirely of traditional Christmas tunes such as “White Christmas” and everyone’s favorite- “Winter Wonderland.” Although the album doesn’t exactly qualify as a milestone in Weiland’s highly successful and equally tumultuous career, one could say that he pulls off this collection of un-hatebale songs in his own bizarre, eccentric, Scott Weiland-esqe way.
I’ve been a huge fan of all Scott Weiland’s projects since I was but a young lad, and I’ve followed his career very closely all the while. I like to think I’ve been considerably more patient with his bad habits and attitudes over the years than most fans (and certainly his band mates) were willing to be. For me, the reward has been what I believe to be an excellent and emotionally charged catalogue of music that spans many genres and musical styles.
The iHeartRadio Theater is definitely one of the most exclusive venues I’ve been to in New York. The standing room holds no more than 200 folks, and is just about the size of an Olympic swimming pool. It’s not a place to hang out. It’s a place to catch a very brief live performance from some of the biggest names in the business. I had fairly high expectations for the show- being all exclusive and all; but in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but think, “what if he’s messed up on drugs, and makes a fool of himself?” It’s hard for me to imagine Scott’s voice sounding anything less than great, but I guess I hadn’t seen him perform in a while.
In true rock star fashion, Weiland didn’t take the stage until about 7:45 p.m., 45 minutes late. He began talking about the “Holiday Album”, and his newfound appreciation for the string jazz ensemble that worked with him on it. I hoped the string section would remain on stage for more than just the Christmas songs, but they did not. I was curious to know what it would sound like to hear some acoustic “strung out” STP tunes.
Let me go on record stating that I am the last person on earth that wants to write a negative review about Scott Weiland, but it’s hard to call this performance an all out success. In the studio, Weiland’s voice still sounds as smooth as ever, but at age 44, I believe the man has lost the perfectly raw live Rock performance voice of yesteryear. The 3 Christmas tunes he opened with were actually his most flawless songs of the night vocally. His voice sounded great on them, although the feeling in the crowd was as awkward and confused as I’ve ever been party to at a “rock and roll concert.” A drunk buffoon in the front row kept disrupting Scott on stage, and seemed to have a boy crush on him. A solid 5 minutes of show time was spent listening to this guy make a fool of himself. He was quite entertaining, and was then escorted out by a friendly pair of security guards. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. After the three Christmas tunes, Weiland performed my favorite song of the night, “Killing Me Sweetly”, a gem from his most recent double-disc solo album “Happy In Galoshes.” Next, Scott got emotional while talking about touring with STP and the old n’ days. When I heard the opening notes to “Wonderful” off STP’s “Shangri La-De-Da” record, I was very pleased. I expected him to play a bunch of the commercial STP tunes (Sour Girl, Interstate Love Song, Plush, etc.) so this was a surprise. He warned the crowd to bear with him, and apparently for good reason. Although it felt great to hear this deep track played live (especially in such an intimate venue) I knew the words far better than he did. It was a great idea, but it was clear that this song had not been rehearsed- ever. I thought about grabbing the microphone and helping him out. Probably should’ve done it. Oh well. I’ll give him credit for one thing- he certainly wears his heart on his sleeve. He was completely lost in his songs, and I really understood it. I’ve been there with some of his songs and countless others, and to see what looked like genuine emotion pouring through the microphone was pretty special. On the other hand…. I guess it can also be difficult to determine whether rock stars are caught up with emotion or are just unbelievably high, but I’m not one to speculate. Weiland continued with a very sloppy yet jazzy version of the STP hit “Vaseline”. Then we heard a strange rendition of Velvet Revolver’s “Do It for The Kids”. Again sloppy, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why he decided to pretend he was David Bowie. I mean….he really sounded like him, but it was just strange. He closed the show with around 10 minutes of improvisational hard-rocking-jazzy-hip-hoppy-loungey musical jambalaya including some intense, epic percussion.
It’s certainly no secret that rock stars don’t age like wine. Scott Weiland will always be remembered as one of the most talented rock vocalists of his generation, but I do believe his ability to really wail on songs like “Dead and Bloated” has evaded him. This is not necessarily a bad thing! He still has a strong, mature, and captivating voice- but I just don’t think its built for stadium rock tours anymore. On the whole, this was an interesting show to say the least. Clocking in at just under an hour, I am lucky to have been in attendance. If you’re not familiar with Scott’s solo work, please check out the albums “12 Bar Blues” and “Happy In Galoshes”. Good dirt.
Photos by Kevin Seaman