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“Hey dude, how was the concert last night?”
“It was killer! They put on a great show!”
How many times have you heard that line providing a rather broad description of the event in question? It seems to be a pretty common response but when you require elaboration, the definition of a “great show” can have a wide variance. The response was probably heard around Atlanta after the performance by multi-platinum rockers Creed who kicked off the tour supporting their latest release “Weathered” at the city’s Philips Arena on January 16th. Creed has built a large part of their reputation on having a great show, but there is a need to break it down a bit and find their definition. One of Webster’s definitions of “show” is “a demonstrative display”. Creed has demonstrated that they are at that success level so they can have a monster stage show complete with state-of-the-art lighting and sound, and enough pyrotechnics to shame a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. It was very well orchestrated right from the start, as the blazing white lights and fiery explosions that launched the show mirrored "Weathered's" high octane lead track “Bullets”. The Romanesque stage set revealed itself during the following tune, “Freedom Fighter,” and video screens provided moody backdrops for songs like “Who’s Got My Back” and “Higher”. The pyro popped up again at strategic phases of the concert, but never really attempted to overwhelm what was truly happening on stage. Most of the attention of the audience was on the members of the band, whose intense stage presence would make a great show even if the stage was barren and the lighting consisted of a few gel-cans and a follow spot. That is how Creed was able to make their meteoric rise in the rock world; remember that they started out as road warriors, playing bars first in their native Florida and then beyond. They had strong songs, but built their reputation on giving their all onstage, long before they could afford the bells and whistles of an arena rock production. And that is a truer definition of putting on a good show, with the lights and effects augmenting the performance, not detracting from it or actually becoming the main focus. Frontman Scott Stapp received a large percentage of the attention that evening as he prowled all corners of the stage and the three wings that jutted into the crowd. It is easy to see why he is such a dominant stage presence. Beyond his body contortions and outstanding vocals, he physically shows genuine emotion as he sings. You can feel his pain in “What’s This Life For,” grasp his anger in “What If” or experience his joy in uplifting songs like “One” and the lighter arena ballad “With Arms Wide Open”. In that vein, he effectively brings the crowd on stage with him, even those seated in the rafters of the arena. The other members of the band also have great stage presence and received their due from the throng. Guitarist Mark Tremonti stays in his own area of the stage, but still plays with unbridled fervor, and while most of the songs progressed the same way they did on the albums, some of the solo work was improvised, adding further evidence to the man’s talent on the six string. Drummer Scott Phillips is not flashy, but he drives Creed’s powerful rhythm core with intense passion, providing tasty fills at just the right points without overplaying or loosing the basic beat like some fill-happy drummers tend to do. The bassist for this tour Brett Hestla who is also the lead singer for opening act Virgos, fits in well with the overall presence of the band. His playing was masterful and he frequently moved around the stage, exhorting the crowd almost as often as Stapp did. After a hundred intense minutes as the final notes of the recent hit “My Sacrifice” were augmented with another fiery burst, the throng roared approval, but primarily for the four members of the band, who had...well, put on a great show. Not to take anything away from the people who designed the stage and ran the lights and pyro (as well as the sound which was excellent throughout), but the main reasons behind the immense popularity of Creed is due to the music and the way the band members portray it with their on-stage passion. So when you boil it down, it’s just four guys entertaining their fans by pouring their hearts into playing rock and roll - some pretty damn good rock and roll. :->
.by Mark E. Waterbury