Earth, Rock, and FireBy Andrew Selbst
July 25th, 8pm
On July 25th, Creed came to the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts with a mission. Armed with a detailed strategy, lighting and sound crews, and various pyrotechnics, they planned to take the audience by force, until each and every man, woman, and child worshipped the very ground they walked on. Such was Creed’s power that, had they asked the mob to take over a nearby town, it seemed they would all surely do it, not pausing to think, but only to admire the great honor these people have given them by assigning them such a task. It was an amazing and frightening sight watching the audience, eyes transfixed by the awesome presence that was Creed, or more specifically, frontman Scott Stapp, worshipping him from their seats.
Creed has put out three albums since 1998, with their first seven singles all going to number one on the rock charts. They have a grunge sound that has often been compared to Pearl Jam and the like, and they revived the market for a type of rock that seemed to be fading out rapidly. Led by a charismatic Stapp, they demonstrate a passion for their work, their songs, and their Christian message not matched by many other bands.
The Tweeter Center stage was set up to be a mixture of stone and fire, similar to all the pictures associated with the band’s newest album, Weathered, for which this tour was held. A platform behind the drummer, Scott Phillips, was joined on each side by staircases fashioned to look like stone. At the bottom of each staircase was a tall “stone” pillar. The rest of the set was a bright red color, in background, with a huge video screen over the platform. It set the mood beautifully, fitting in perfectly with the rest of their show.
The two opening acts featured 12 Stones, and Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains. 12 Stones, as is the case with many bands that tour with Creed, sounded exactly like them, down to lead singer Paul McCoy’s voice. It would have been possible to confuse them with the main act if the concertgoers didn’t know all of Creed’s songs. The highlight of Jerry Cantrell’s performance was his calling out guitarist Mark Tremonti to do an Alice in Chains cover, to which the audience responded nicely.
The beginning of the show caused more than a few people to jump in their seats, as a loud explosion was followed by the heat wave of the first torches to go off. The first song, titled, “Bullets,” was also the first track off Weathered, and fit well as an opening song as it starts off quietly and then soon draws people in, getting suddenly loud and very active. Creed played it up even more with a brilliant show of pyrotechnics, including torches and sparklers, all timed to certain important beats in the song. True to the album, they moved directly into the second song, “Freedom Fighter,” without breaking.
One of the best points about this concert was the use of many different techniques to draw the audience into the show from very early on. They started with pyrotechnics, and a good opening song. They also appealed to the sense of the familiar, playing the first two songs off the newest album in order. For the third piece of the set, “What If,” they turned on the video screen, and showed an inner city scene involving the sale and use of guns. Many people just watched that for a good portion of the song, somewhat filtering out the music to the background as a soundtrack to the movie. Later in the song, they went back to pyrotechnics, almost replacing the necessity of drums, in order to round out their early attempts.
In addition to all the fancy measures taken, Creed continually engaged the audience in a tried and true fashion: letting them sing parts of the song. In fact, they did so to the point where were it not for the many other things going on, the show would have become monotonous with the audience participation. In fact, this performance was slightly different from other lively concerts in that Creed didn’t jump around as much. Instead, they relied on the full impact of the emotion in the songs to capture the audiences attention. Stapp’s facial expressions matched his almost tearful voice at times, and between songs he made short speeches about what they mean to him. In fact, several times during the show he embraced Tremonti in a constant display of emotive force unknown to most rock concerts.
Throughout the concert, the audience continued to be enraptured by Stapp’s amazing charisma and the band’s stage tricks and videos. It all lead up to a three-song encore, including arguably their biggest hit, “Higher,” and the new single, “My Sacrifice,” from their newest album. That song saw the culmination of all Creed built up during the show as the crowd almost completely drowned out the band with their singing. To be in the midst of it felt almost like a religious experience.