April 23, 2014 Scott Stapp & Like a Storm Rock Hard at Irving Plaza, NYC 4-2-14
Over the years, everyone has heard how Creed always blasts out the perfect live rock show, yet many were not quite sure what to expect from a solo tour from lead vocalist Scott Stapp. On April 2nd, at New York City’s Irving Plaza he put all doubts to rest. In celebration of his sophomore solo album titled Proof of Life (2013), Stapp has taken to the road stopping in cities across the country to make a statement to skeptical fans wondering if the powerful singer can stand alone. Some of those casually walking by Irving Plaza stopped in their tracks as soon as they saw Stapp’s name on the marquee, and immediately changed their evening plans to purchase a ticket to the show. As fans arrived a crowd convened, waiting for the door to open on the busy NYC street it was clear to see a healthy balance of Stapp fans, Creed fans, and fans of opening act Like a Storm. The adrenaline was flowing, and the strong turnout was gearing up for a highly anticipated killer show.
Once inside, the first thing you noticed was the energy of the Like a Storm crowd, who were decorated in band paraphernalia from head to toe. If you have not heard of this band yet, Like a Storm is a hard hitting rock band, who’s tireless touring and hard work has landed them the number one single, “Love The Way You Hate Me”, on XMSirius Octane satellite radio. They were a concealed gem, but are now making waves and starting to gain radio airplay across the US, living up to name in glorious fashion. The band themselves consist of three New Zealand brothers, Kent, Chris, and Matt Brooks, and their newly recruited drummer, Justin “Duddy” Pitlik from Wisconsin. These brothers are not only connected through blood, but through their musical and vocal chemistry as well. Finding themselves in comfortable surrounding among Creed fans, having opened for the band on multiple occasions in the past, the roof was ready to blow off Irving Plaza.
As the lights dimmed, Like a Storm took the stage. Chris stood in the spotlight playing their signature didgeridoo, leading into the highly catchy song “Chemical Infatuation” off their debut album The End of the Beginning (2009). As the song dissipated, the brothers welcome the NYC audience, igniting excitement as they start to pound out the adrenaline pumping “Never Surrender” off their second CD Chaos Theory part 1 (2012). The song is very descriptive of their stage presence, as there is never a moment they are not interacting with the crowd, or belting out song after song like rock and roll masters. These guys know how to work a crowd, and in turn, the fans savor every moment of the engaged rock experience.
As Kent works the bass and backup vocals, Chris and Matt switch between lead vocals while dominating their guitars. They paraded through emotionally intense songs such as “Just Save Me” and “Alone“, with lyrics that all can relate with, encompassing life’s daily struggles. Moving along in their set a didgeridoo and drum solo were showcased. Chris worked magic on that primal instrument, making it look like second nature. As for the newest addition to the group, Duddy, he did not miss a single beat with those enchanted sticks. The band even treated the audience to covers of AC/DC’s “TNT”, and Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise”. Their rendition of the popular hip hop classic is cleverly morphed into a a scintillating rock piece.
The most memorable moment of Like a Storm’s time on stage was when they broke out into “Enemy” and from the first note, the crowd knew just what to do. Simultaneous arms raised, fists in the air, and chants yelled in synch with the starting chorus as if it had been a rock anthem for decades. Winding down their performance with the infectious “Love The Way You Hate Me”, Like a Storm is the real deal, they approach rock like it is meant to be played; hard, heavy, and with lyrical substance. Keep your eyes peeled for their upcoming album release Chaos Theory part 2.
Allowing the audience time to catch their breath Scott Stapp arrived on stage shortly after the opening performance enveloping the room with a signature powerful voice. Opening up with his single “Slow Suicide“, if there was any question of this man’s solo ability that night, he most definitely stomped it underfoot within the first few lyrics he belted out. His presence was undeniable, and he stood warrior-like as he led his band. The next song offered was Creed’s “What If” and it was clearly a favorite at this packed venue, as fans mimicked every word. It was a high energy moment, which Stapp slowly leveled off as he began to talk about some of his personal struggles. He was open, he was honest, and he had everyone’s full attention. At that moment, it became clear that Stapp has personal demons like everyone else. The band began to play a slow ritual of dark undertones from the song “Justify”. The song is a foreboding story, part spoken, part sung, and fans can’t help but find themselves wondering whether it is fictional or autobiographical. After this thought provoking experience, Stapp took the audience back to 1997 with the comfortable familiarity of “My Own Prison”. By this time, he was drenched in sweat, worked up by passion and his will to put on a spectacular show. His energy was a force to be reckoned with, and he leaves no part of the stage untouched. He offers a healthy mix of Creed songs and new songs, with a perfect balance of symmetry between a younger Scott, and this new Scott. The dichotomy was easy to detect in the very telling lyrics. The band was strong as they duplicated Creed’s “Overcome”, “Higher”, “One Last Breath”, and “My Sacrifice”. These men carry with them a slew of music credentials, enabling them to form great on-stage chemistry and given talent.
As the evening moved along, Stapp’s genuine interaction with the crowd penetrated deep as he spoke more about his personal life. Stapp was not at all projecting a preaching vibe, but he was simply sharing in a very evoking manner. To hear the meanings behind the solo songs “New Day Coming”, “Break Out”, “Dying to Live“, and “Proof of Life“ seemed to take each fan even deeper into the music. Many of Stapp’s songs show his vulnerability and battles for redemption, both in his personal life, as well as within the music industry. The songs were his own journey expressed in a hard rock format, while others took on a more melodic route. Crowd favorites were “Only One”, “Hit Me More”, “Jesus Was a Rock Star”, and “Crash”.
This was a two hour show, in which Stapp owned the stage. His undeniable talent never wavered, nor failed for one single moment. Irving Plaza could not get enough, and they were ecstatic as he did an encore which included the power ballad hit “With Arms Wide Open“. Almost instantly, people raised their cell phones up, in order to share the moment with someone on the other end. Maybe someone to whom they knew the song meant something special, or perhaps, someone they shared a connection with through that song. The cell phones added a charming illumination to the almost sacred NYC venue, as the night was soon to end.
Stapp is unquestionably the voice of Creed. His name and most of all ability is strong enough to stand on its own and judging by New York City’s reaction this was one of the best performances they had witnessed. This is Scott Stapp at his very best, in his element where his music will rock you and lyrics resonate within you. He seized the moment and nailed it.
Written by Alisa Lilly Pierson