Three songs into Stone Temple Pilots' 90-minute set Tuesday night, celebrating the May 25 release of their first album in nearly a decade, Scott Weiland stepped confidently onto a riser onstage at New York City's 550-person capacity Gramercy Theatre. The opening bars of "Between the Lines," the lead single from their self-titled new album, blasted out, and Weiland spun in circles, singing about his drug-addled relationship with his ex-wife.
He gestured at drummer Eric Kretz and went back-to-back with guitarist Dean DeLeo, displaying the kind of chemistry the San Diego quartet once had before the drug busts, rehabs, and creative infighting caused a seven-year breakup.
The good news: STP are back and focused.
They dispatched their 17-song set with a workmanlike ethic. New songs "Bagman" and "Hickory Dichotomy" showed STP's classic fusion of hard rock assault and melodic pop smarts, with tight, memorable hooks. "Huckleberry Crumble" featured a sharp guitar riff and blues bass.
The quartet's rediscovered polish rubbed off on older songs, too. Dean -- who ran through an arsenal of vintage Fender Telecasters and Gibson Les Pauls -- played a innovative solo on "Sour Girl," as Weiland dropped an impromptu scat, illustrating their on-the-fly versatility. During a rare performance of 1996's "Tumble in the Rough" ("We haven't played this one in a lllllooooonnnnngggg time," explained Weiland), STP maintained tight control of the song's psychedelic flourishes.
"Interstate Love Song," "Creep," and "Plush" all sounded muscular, with Kretz and bassist Robert DeLeo (who writes all of STP's music with his brother Dean; Weiland writes the lyrics), laying a rumbling rhythm that flaunted their hard rock, R&B, and British Invasion influences.
After a two-song encore, including the call-and-response "Dead and Bloated" and hard grooving "Trippin' On a Hole in a Paper Heart," the band took a bow to the crowd's chant of "STP, STP, STP!!!"
It's likely to be just one of many such moments for the quartet as they tour through the summer.
"Between the Lines"
"Interstate Love Song"
"Tumble In the Rough"
"Sex Type Thing"
"Dead and Bloated"
"Trippin' On a Hole in a Paper Heart"