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Creed concert rocks crowd with intensity, honesty

Published on 05-08-2000
Published at Knoxville News Sentinel

Believers turned out in force for Creed's return to Knoxville. The band's concert Saturday at the University of Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena had the earmarks of a revival -- positive messages, jubilant arms raised skyward, fire and brimstone ...

Well, pyrotechnic displays and cannons were a reasonable facsimile of the latter. Not that the crowd needed anything more than Scott Stapp's earnest vocals or Mark Tremonti's nimble guitar work to get revved up -- this wasn't Jurassic Kiss, after all, but Billboard's reigning two-time Rock Artist of the Year.

Creed's young fans, nearly 10,000 strong, gladly sacrificed a few flames for the studied intensity of frontman Stapp. It's safe to say that the female crowd members -- more numerous than for the usual hard-rock act -- would have given up a number of frills to see the brooding singer up close.

Segueing easily from the World's Fair Park -- where they played in August 1998 -- to the arena, Stapp, Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips soared through nearly 90 minutes of music. The band's brand of minor-key power rock comes across even better live than it does in recordings.

Stapp truly has a charismatic presence and a gorgeous, powerful voice, even if at times he sounds like a cross between Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Live's Ed Kowalczyk. On stage, his sincerity was evident, and his command of the crowd was impressive.

Creed's straightforwardness was especially welcome after the warm-up antics of the forgettable Guano Apes and the energetic metal mush of Sevendust.

Creed played most of the songs from the 1999 release "Human Clay" but did not ignore the debut sensation "My Own Prison." Introducing the title track from that 1997 CD, Stapp commented that they hadn't played the song in "a long time," implying that they might be sick of it, but the audience responded instantly and gratefully. Stapp's build from stillness to movement showed skillful and willing interpretation.

Reflecting his lyrics, Stapp's demeanor was usually serious, but the reflected energy of the crowd made him smile during "Faceless Man" and "What's This Life For," and his joy was apparent when he brought 18-month-old son Jagger out to introduce the prayerful ballad "With Arms Wide Open."

With Tremonti's power plays as ballast, Stapp lifted the crowd through the likes of "Torn," "Are You Ready" and "Illusion." And Creed made sure to leave on a high note, encoring solidly with two of its most infectious hits, "One" and "Higher."

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