Scott Weiland kicked off his 'Purple at the Core' tour at The Machine Shop in Flint just days after Stone Temple Pilots announced his dismissal from the band. Did they make a huge mistake or get out just in time? After watching the performance last night, I'd say...

...just in time.

Prior to the night's main event, supporting act Miggs took the stage to play a mixture of originals -- that would've sounded at home on a sampler CD you get free with every purchase over $20 at Hollister -- and covers like the song from the film 'Ghost' and '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.' After that thrill-ride was over, fans were more than ready for Scott and his band, The Wildabouts, to come out and rock some classic STP tunes and eventually, they did. The only problem was that they weren't ready.

The band took the stage, sans Weiland, and settled into a deep, bluesy groove. After a minute or so, their leader emerged looking like he just rode in on a Tauntaun. Wearing a heavy coat, winter hat, fingerless gloves, scarf and smoking a cigarette, he began singing along to the unrecognizable (to me, anyway) blues jam for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably closer to 7 or 8 minutes. When the tune finally did end, Scott removed his coat and hat and the band kind of just milled around talking to each other for 5 or 6 minutes.

Scott began talking to the crowd and although from our location it was difficult to understand much of what he was saying, he did say something to the effect of playing with the band (The Wildabouts) used to be just for fun, but they were now going pro. This was obviously a reference to his standing with Stone Temple Pilots and his future as a solo artist.

Finally they began playing the intro to 'Wicked Garden,' which immediately sounded way too clean. Apparently, the guitar tone was brightened up to accommodate the organ-heavy version of the tune that would follow. Honestly, that aspect made the song sound quite silly -- imagine keyboard cat sitting in with STP and you're pretty close -- but Weiland sounded pretty good on that particular song.

Next, Weiland gave an introduction to the band, talked about some of the material they've done together and then he launched into full-on Bowie mode, as he often does, for 'Paralysis.' Scott preempted the next song by explaining he had not performed it since the initial rounds of touring behind 'Core' about 17 years earlier. An announcement like that is usually a "let me off the hook if this sucks" move, but the band actually turned in a great rendition of 'Naked Sunday' afterwards.

'Creep' started out really strong and let guitarist Doug Grean show off a little via some improvised blues riffage throughout, which was a really nice touch. It was during this song that things started to come apart, as the band ended the track abruptly. Weiland tried to cover this by continuing to sing a cappella for a few more bars, but you can't put a band-aid on a broken leg.

Weiland & Co shuffled through a cover of David Bowie's 'The Jean Genie' and then he told the crowd they were making up the set as they went along, probably to explain the frequent huddles between songs. He also said "We're hoping that you feel the way that we do. Sharing this moment all together."

The explosive intro to 'Crackerman' injected some adrenaline into the room, which was much needed after the Bowie cover. For some reason, Scott has changed the way he sings this song and even emulated his megaphone voice for this performance. And not for the better. Instead of the usual verse lyrics, Weiland does his faux-megaphone voice and repeats what sounds like "he's a man, he's a man, he's a woman, he's a man,"  until it comes time for the chorus, which also was devoid of some crucial parts. This was really infuriating, because 'Crackerman' is such a great song and the band actually played it by the book.  Everyone paid good money to hear Scott perform the hits, not ruin them.

The band sort of redeemed themselves by nailing most of 'Kitchenware & Candybars,' but Weiland showed his hand by telling the crowd that they forgot to play the bridge. Oddly enough, he said "take me to the bridge," and they did. This was after they already ended the song once, mind you. Next they played 'Space Jam' (your guess is as good as mine) and a cover of Jane's Addiction's 'Mountain Song.'

Instead of boring you with every detail of the show, here are some of the notes I took during the rest of the set:

  • 'Big Empty' starts out solid, slide guitar sounds great. Rhythm gets a little sloppy about midway through, Weiland starts singing in weird falsetto after the bridge. Not great.
  • Why is the bass player singing this song? (written during  their cover of 'Can't Stand Me Now' by The Libertines)
  • 'Vasoline' sounds good, Scott sounds extra nasally on this one.
  • 'Interstate Love Song' comes off pretty great.

The band leaves the stage for a break after 'Interstate Love Song,' but returns shortly to give their most impressive performance of the entire night. Ironically, that great performance came during their cover of 'Roadhouse Blues' and not with an STP song.

Scott Weiland and The Wildabouts finish the night with 'Sex Type Thing,' which again features extra-nasally sounding vocals. Scott finally gets out his megaphone towards the end of the song, just 11 songs later than he should have.

As a huge fan of Stone Temple Pilots as well as Scott's work with Velvet Revolver, I was mostly disappointed with the show. Without speculating on the status of his sobriety, which was frequently discussed by most in attendance last night, I think Weiland really dropped the ball here. Wasted or not, he brought a band on the road to perform "the hits" and they weren't ready for it. He even mentioned that the first show of a tour is sort of like a "rehearsal." It seemed more like we were watching band practice. The Wildabouts are, undoubtedly, a talented bunch of musicians. That being said, they should have been more professional and had their little "rehearsal"' on their own time and at their own expense -- not ours. Then again, that may have been a luxury their unpredictable leader did not afford them.

Final Verdict: Hurricane Scott blew through town last night and, while somewhat exciting and occasionally entertaining, ultimately left a trail of disappointment and confusion in its wake. C-

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