What could have been an expected, anticipated close to his successful, critically welcomed tour of stripped down classics from his Creed and solo years became something much more profound and powerful for Scott Stapp and his audience last Friday night. Taking the stage all in black, his hair now re-grown nearly to its trademark length for the singer-songwriter, Stapp was out to prove not only his own personal and performance redemption was the real deal, but to offer the same to his followers, pouring out every drop of himself and the lessons of his life-journey as an offering of faith and rock-and-roll, realms that his music straddles, but his conscience now clearly defines.
The selections for the set spanned the earliest years for Creed, including “Unforgiven” and the title track for the band’s first release, My Own Prison, from 1997, its reflective and self-indicting tones as resonant today as then, and an impromptu inclusion of “Torn”, that seemed to replace its original youthful angst with an admonition of “I’ve been there, and this is what it taught me”, as the standing, packed crowd joined as one huge voice for the chorus. Backed by Creed guitarist Eric Friedman, bassist Mitch Burman from 2005’s The Great Divide solo album and tour, and drummer Garrett Whitlock, these unplugged renditions showcase Stapp’s vocal power, particularly on covers like “I’m Eighteen” and “Riders on the Storm”, infused with some bluesy. Virtuoso guitar touches by Friedman that even the surviving Doors might wish for. Wriggling free from his self-imposed discipline of his stool, Stapp literally portrayed every line of “Full Circle” another unplanned insert for the night, gushing with the passion of a preacher under conviction for his flock.
Enthusiastically prompted for an encore, Stapp displayed his own instrumental musicianship, brandishing a 12-string to perform a new song, “Crazy in Love”, from his upcoming collection. The haunting lyrics intertwine facets of human and divine love.
As the opening chords of the crowd favorite “With Arms Wide Open” chimed, Stapp was joined onstage by his 12-year-old son, Jagger, the anthem’s living inspiration, accompanying on bongos, along with his nephew, John Paul, for a special guitar solo. The tender moment swept up Stapp and the audience in a moment of singular emotion and memory, one that will endure for anyone there. Breaking into a simultaneous “Hallelujah praise” for “Higher” to close the night and the leg, Stapp left the night and the audience changed for the better.
A passionate performance is one thing, but passion rising from an artist’s fullest self, born of genuine caring and conviction is a rare treasure rarely seen on any stage. Tulsa experienced it.
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