“We are Velvet Revolver, and we play motherfucking rock ‘n’ roll,” declared Scott Weiland from atop one of the Bowl speakers. Truer words were never spoken by the Stone Temple Pilots’ former leading man.
The phoenix that rose from the ashes of Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots has come a long way since its 2003 debut, but, simply put, the genre of “motherfucking rock ‘n’ roll” can only be interesting for so long-apparently, not long enough to last the length of their show last Tuesday.
But before Velvet Revolver could strut their stuff, there was the matter of a little band called Alice in Chains. Since the tragic death of frontman Layne Staley in 2002, the grunge kingpins have had dozens try their hand at filling his shoes, but none can compare to William DuVall, who offered an impeccable imitation of Staley’s deafening high notes. With all the remaining original members intact, Alice in Chains’ long hair and grunge clothing were a welcome anachronism, receiving the most cheers any opening band at the Bowl has gotten this season. They left the stage with the beloved antiwar ballad “Rooster,” as clips of the Vietnam and Iraq wars played ominously behind them.
With Sparta’s set mysteriously cancelled, the stage was set for Velvet Revolver. The group certainly had not forgotten its stadium rock roots, as an oversized curtain dropped to reveal them, instruments in hand, ready to throw down “Let it Roll” and “She Mine,” the first two tracks off their latest release, Libertad. “Suckertrain Blues” and “Do it for the Kids” followed, along with “Big Machine,” during which Weiland roared through a megaphone, “We’re all slaves to a big machine.”
Things slowed down with “Pills, Demons & Etc.,” one of the more vulnerable numbers from Libertad. Avid Stone Temple Pilots fans were ravenous to hear the opening riffs of “Vasoline” and “Interstate Long Song,” but Guns N’ Roses fans were not forgotten when Weiland raised a few lighters with “Patience.”
But the tributes did not end there. The band morphed back into Stone Temple Pilots for its first encore, traveling all the way back to 1992’s Core for the stadium-shaking “Sex Type Thing” that descended into a tripped-out tribal drum solo. Looking eerily like Jim Morrison, Weiland led the crowd in some lights-out chanting, then followed with a downright odd cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” before finally ending the night with “Slither.” All in all, Velvet Revolver seemed content with having a beer-guzzling, guitar-shredding good time, but when your biggest numbers don’t belong to you, there’s a problem.