January 28, 2016 Scott Stapp Rises At Webster Hall, NYC 1-20-16
It is well-known Lyricist/Vocalist Scott Stapp rose to stardom with the Hard Rock band Creed back in 1997 with their amazing debut album My Own Prison. Along with Guitarist Mark Tremonti, Drummer Scott Phillips, and Bassist Brian Marshall, Creed went on to sell fifty-three million records worldwide over the course of four studio albums between 1997 and 2009. No small accomplishment, Creed is considered one of the top selling Rock acts of the last twenty years, making them a household name now. While the band has withstood ups and downs, Stapp has not stopped creating music because of it. Working alongside bands like The Tea Party and 7 Aurelius to record “Relearn Love” for 2004’s The Passion of The Christ: Songs album, he also released his solo debut album, The Great Divide, in 2005, and in 2013, the impactful Proof of Life. Hard at work in support of the album through most of 2014, Stapp took some much needed time off. Now re-energized and a even more sharpened perspective, Stapp returned in late 2015 with some shows over in Africa prior to his 2016 run back in North America.
Kicking off the new run of shows on January 15th, Stapp hit a variety of cities across the Midwest and East Coast before concluding down in Texas on February 10th. Amidst all of the touring, he and his band of Yiannis Papadopoulos (lead guitars), accomplished Dango Empire ( drums), returning Sammy Hudson (bass,backing vocals), and Ben Flanders (guitar, backing vocals) made a trip into New York City on Wednesday, January 20th, to visit Webster Hall. New York City has been known in the music scene as one of the toughest cities to play to. Why, because the fans are extremely honest; if the music is real and comes from the heart, then the artist or band will be accepted graciously. With that in mind, Stapp’s visit at Webster Hall to play The Marlin Room would be one in front of a sold out crowd of eager, supportive fans anticipating his return.
Getting the crowd warmed up prior to Stapp’s set was Tyler, Texas’ own Rock band Rockett Queen. Rockett Queen has accomplished a lot since the formation of the band in 2002 with their 2003 debut album, Too Rock For Radio, receiving acclaimed reviews, thus putting their name on the map. Consisting of Walter Lee (Vocals, Guitar), Jay Scars (lead guitar), Keith Crash (drums), and Chaz Graves (bass), Rockett Queen has been road dogs touring throughout their career. Having played on the Vans Warped tour numerous times and with bands such as My Chemical Romance, Powerman 5000, Fall Out Boy, Hinder, Fuel, and more, now they are back, again on the road with Stapp to promote their 2015 album, Goodnight California.
Starting off their set facing the back of the stage, Scars and Lee were up against the amps and giving the crowd some guitar feedback, while Graves and Crash walked in. Lee then screamed, “New York City, are you ready for a Rock-n-Roll revolution?” Surprised by the introduction, the crowd seemed to agree and the set lifted off with almost every song off Goodbye California. First was “To be Loved,” which is a true Rock-n-Roll song with a great bass and drum breakdown. Wanting to check in with the crowd, Lee asked for participation in them saying “ooooooh oooooh” near the end of the song and they sang back to the band’s delight. Moving into “Time Bomb,” the cut had a Punk Rock vibe to it, starting off with a bass and drum intro. Next on the set list came “I Hate You,” a song written about a love/hate relationship people have with one another. Then there was “Hey God,” the point the set got serious and Lee stated that the song was written not for the troop’s themselves, but for the loved ones of those serving who are left behind, worrying about them. This also, was a pivotal moment when the crowd truly became animated and started to embrace Rockett Queen.
Keeping everyone’s interest, “Since You’ve Been Gone” was a ballad placed in the middle of the set that began with keyboards before the rest of the band followed to fill it out musically. Taking it up a notch, they then covered Queen’s classic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which has the crowd going wild. Lee enticed the fans to scream as loud as they could during the famous pre-chorus, and it was a successful interaction. Then the high-energy “Goodnight California” came on, and Rockett Queen was having a great time as Graves jumped in the air, Scars rocked a solo in the middle of the song, Crash went crazy on the drums, and Lee sang with a huge smile on his face. Closing out their set with Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell,” everyone was singing along, and it proved the band had won over this New York City crowd with cheers and participation.
What sets Rockett Queen apart from many other bands is they are a well-oiled machine. Throughout their set, they seem to enjoy every second they were on stage. Their energy was focused on playing to the crowd and they actually seem to feed off each other in a playful manner. Like the famous Frank Sinatra song “New York, New York” states, “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere,” and those words will definitely ring through the minds of Rockett Queen following this experience.
The energy in the Marlin Room was overflowing as the sold out crowd waited for “The Voice of Creed,” Mr. Stapp, to take the stage. As the lights dimmed, cheers and screams rang through the air as Stapp and his band walked onto the stage. Dressed in all black, everyone stared patiently, waiting for the music to begin.
Building anticipation, at last, Stapp screamed into the microphone, “I think they shot ‘cause they wanna,” starting one of Creed’s heaviest tracks, “Bullets.” The song, from beginning to end, showed off a side of Stapp many would remember from years ago as he stood in his signature rocking back and forth, while holding the microphone pose, singing passionately. Stapp was confident, yet this time that aura around him was different. He was connecting to the crowd, smiling, shaking hands, and displaying a sense of excitement, as if he was singing a song he has never sung before. As the song ended, he seemed blown away by the fans’ reaction, as well as his band, which was very animated and moving around the stage all during the song. In addition, they themselves seemed connected to every note they played. They then went into The Proof of Life track “Slow Suicide” after Stapp stated, “This describes what I did for 20 years.” As he closed his eyes to sing the song, one can only imagine what it has felt like for Stapp, who has lived through a lot of personal misfortunes and mental health. Now having found out what caused so many of his issues, he has a new outlook on life and this track seemed very personal to Stapp.
The audience continued to sing along, and while some may think this crowd was just present to hear Creed songs, it turned out that they were here for much more. Many proved they were Stapp fans, and they were just as excited and moved to hear songs from his own solo career as he performed. Mixing up the set well, “My Own Prison” was introduced by Stapp stating, “It is good to be back on stage, let’s take it back a few years. Let’s take it back to ‘My Own Prison’.” The crowd united to join in and it became a big sing along. Keeping up with older Creed, “What If” and “Faceless Man,” both off 1999’s Human Clay were the next, and during the first of the two, everyone was dancing and singing along even more. Then, in tune with the set, within the first couple of guitar notes of the next song, Stapp stated that “Faceless Man,” in a gentler manner, was ahead. The band played in a subtle matter as Stapp spoke and captured the audience even further.
Moving into the track “Justify,” Stapp opened by saying he once wanted to possess earthly things, but now through his healing, he is trying to look outside himself and be filled with love. A fan favorite, Stapp’s voice was almost drowned out by the audience’s enthusiastic shouting along. Then, when it was time for 2009’s Full Circle song “Overcome,” Stapp came across more serious and focused. He stated at one point during the show, “Man, I’m feeling a really unique vibe in here. Calm before the storm, like lightning is about to strike.” Feeding off Stapp, the band was very animated and one with the songs’ vibe, adding to the overall atmosphere. Thereafter, they went into Proof of Life singles “Jesus Was a Rock Star” and “Hit Me More” as Stapp was in full Rockstar mode, enthralled in the music.
Stapp then spoke about part of his recovery to better health, getting outside of his own self, and giving to others as he handed out cards to the ChildFund International to any audience members who wanted to sponsor a child in need overseas. Teaming up with ChildFund International for the Proof of Life tour, Stapp then stated he and his wife, on a trip, made a connection with the children and made it their mission for each child to become sponsored; a beautiful way to segue into the amazing “With Arms Wide Open” song. During the last refrain, he had a huge smile on his face as the fans sang along. Keeping the spirit of the room, “Higher” closed out the night with everyone singing aloud for a grand closure. Stapp bid the room farewell as screams from the audience of “We love you, Scott” or “One More” were followed by clapping and cheering. After a few minutes, Stapp and his band came back for an encore that included 2001’s Weathered singles “One last Breath” and “My Sacrifice.” Joyed by the response all night, Stapp and company came to the front of the stage, grabbing hands, and enjoyed every moment of the last couple of minutes they would have with the New York crowd.
Stapp has lived the life of what most musicians can only dream of. Being in one of the most successful Hard Rock bands of all time, touring the world, putting out one hit after another, and creating four record-breaking albums, not to mention a Greatest Hits compilation. Although, with that came a lot of personal struggle, soul searching, and health issues. This proves that having it all does not mean you are happy. It seems Stapp has come to terms and is aware of many demons. He has started his life in many ways, over again, and for that, fans praise him regardless of his musical accomplishments. The re-launching of Proof of Life tour shows a Stapp happier than ever, looking outward instead of inward to find love. Get out there and see this tour for a Stapp that looks and sounds like he is in his prime.