COLUMBUS, Ohio What were you expecting? A wheelchair, some crutches? Just a few months after a car accident involving singer Scott Stapp derailed Creed's summer tour, the band is back and, seemingly, no worse for the wear.
On the fourth date of the resurrected second leg of their Weathered tour, Creed preached to the converted at a nearly sold-out Polaris Amphitheater on a night when all the flames, fireworks and smoke bombs added heat to the already muggy Midwestern night.
The nearly two-hour show was a no-frills affair, with Stapp slowly walking the front of the stage as he belted out one hard rock anthem after another, only once making use of the horseshoe-shaped ramp that peaked behind drummer Scott Phillips' kit. Was it because his back was still bothering him, or did he just want to be closer to his flock?
It didn't matter to them. The fans were on their feet all night, hands in the air, getting what they came for.
"I heard about the accident and I didn't think they would do this show," said Dana Bumbrey, who was attending his first Creed concert. "But he [Stapp] was unbelievable up there. He was totally uninhibited and all about the audience. He definitely didn't look like he was in any accident."
Creed postponed 20 dates on the second leg of the tour due to the singer's back injury in a car accident on April 19 (see "Scott Stapp Discusses Accident That Derailed Creed Tour"). According to his spokesperson, Stapp suffered a torn disk in his lower back and a bulging disk in his neck from the accident, but was cleared by doctors to resume touring after a physical therapy and strengthening program. The relaunched 30-date tour kicked off on July 11 in Virginia Beach, Virginia (see "Creed's Scott Stapp Given Go-Ahead To Tour, New Dates Announced").
Hewing to a similar set list as the first leg of the tour, Creed opened the night with a burst of flames and fireworks as they rumbled right into the aggressive rock track "Bullets," the lead song of their latest multi-platinum album, Weathered. Wearing snug brown leather trousers and a tight, long-sleeve blue top, Stapp immediately worked his magic on the crowd, made up of an equal number of vocal hard rockers and the women who love them (and vice versa).
Stapp made only an oblique reference to the derailed tour when he thanked the audience for waiting for the band before the group tore into the bombastic "What If," from 1999's Human Clay. With images of police actions and gang graffiti projected on the three giant screens behind them (which were flanked by a series of four massive columns), muscled guitarist Mark Tremonti and Stapp indulged in a little cheek-to-cheek, double-barreled headbanging as Tremonti chopped out the song's fat, grungy chords.
With songs steeped in religious imagery, it was no surprise that, at points, Stapp appeared to be testifying, waving his hands in the air and seemingly on the verge of collapse during a grinding take on "Torn."
While the audience spent most of the night screaming along to almost every lyric, it was during the morose ballad "One Last Breath" that Stapp's hold over his fans was strongest. Shouting along to lyrics about saving yourself just "six feet from the edge," the crowd was visibly in the singer's thrall.
The band's restless energy during a barrage of hits ("With Arms Wide Open," "Higher," "My Sacrifice") and explosions at the 18-song show's end put to rest any worries about them rushing back to the road.
As a sweat-soaked Stapp finally climbed up the ramp and stood framed by the columns during "With Arms Wide Open," he planted his feet shoulder's-length apart, extended his arms and seemed to relax for the first time all night. Behind him images of planets and asteroids shooting through space punctuated the song's anthemic sweep.
"That was way more powerful than I expected," said another first time Creed concertgoer, 35-year-old Glen Gardner.
"Some things are so unpredictable," said P.J. Bryant, 21, who spent almost the whole show holding girlfriend Amy Hollon's hand in the air and singing every lyric to every song. "He rocked it and made us feel totally alive." Hollon agreed and said she thought Stapp gave the crowd "all he had, 100 percent."
Robert Key's wife had other things on her mind, though. Key, holding a Creed license plate, sporting a Creed shirt and still buzzing from what he said was the best concert he'd ever seen, had to laugh as wife Terri yelled her only comment about the show: "Nice ass!"
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.