Scott Stapp played live to a crowded house at the Paramount Hudson Valley Theatre in Peekskill, NY on his “Live and Unplugged” tour which celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Creed’s debut album, My Own Prison.
The Paramount Hudson Valley Theatre with its opera house charm having stunning painted walls, red curtains, orchestra and mezzanine seating seemed like the least likely place for a rock show but it turned out to be the perfect setting for Scott Stapp’s “Live and Unplugged” acoustic show.
When fans entered the venue they were greeted with the familiar sound of grunge rock band Soundgarden playing over the speakers. Obviously, a tribute to the recent passing of lead singer, Chris Cornell on May 18th.
Opening the night’s festivities was rock band, Willet. Brothers, Jeremy on Vocals and acoustic guitar and Justin on lead guitar brought a Christian Rock vibe to the fans. The band brought songs and messages of positivity and peace. Jeremy’s voice was powerful yet melodic in truly feeling every word and sending the message out to the fans. Justin provided beautiful acoustic guitar playing that accompanied his brother’s making for some stunning pieces of music.
The brothers hailing from Westminster, Maryland who normally are a trio (their brother Jordan was not on the tour) were truly a crowd pleaser with fans yelling, clapping and whistling during their set. Jeremy seemed to truly connect with the fan base through his speaking to them and singing. Willet is truly a band that is talented and has the ability to move a crowd.
Next up hailing from Vancouver, Canada was rock group, Art of Dying. The group normally who would be plugged in with bass and a full drum set, was stripped down to having their bass player, Cale Gontier singing backup vocals and their drummer, Cody Watkins on a box drum. The rest of the band, Johny Heterington was on lead vocals and Travis Stanley was on acoustic guitar. From the moment the band started into their first song “Breathe Again” something special was in the air. The vocalizations and harmonies mixed with the acoustic guitar and drums were truly powerful.
Heterington was a driving force throughout the set with rocking out not to mention engaging the crowd to sing along, participate and tell stories. The rest of the band provided lots of energy and true musical ability vocally and rhythmically. All the members were feeling every note that was played and the fans ate up every ounce of it.
The band played songs like “Get thru this”, “Die Trying” and “Tear down the wall” to name a few. A touching moment in the set was when the band played “Sorry” which they talked about the loss of Soundgarden’s front man, Chris Cornell. In the middle of the song, they started playing “Hungerstrike” (band which had Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam in it) chorus and had fans light up the room with their cell phones. Everyone sang along. Then the band went back into their song.
Overall, seeing Art of Dying as an acoustic band is something everyone has to witness once in their lives. The band not only can harmonize and do some acapella but they rock while doing it. The band is truly a talented one.
After a short break it was time for Scott Stapp and his band to take the stage. As the lights grew dark white light beams strobed the stage as a Middle Eastern sounding intro was being played. There were lights on stands near the drums at the back of the stage that lit up on both sides.
As Ben Flanders, guitarist entered he sat on the left side of the stage, while Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal sat on a chair on the right side of the stage. Drummer Diango took his set at the drum kit. There was no bass player at this point. The crowd went wild and began to stir as suddenly Stapp took the stage .
Stapp had a huge smile on his face as he walked out; he took his seat as “Are you Ready” started the set. Their seemed to be a vitalized energy coming from Stapp and going right into the crowd as he rocked back and forth and sang passionately.
Stapp and co went into “Bullets” as their second song which was where he pointed at fans and the crowd was wild singing along to this heavier song. Before Stapp went into the next song, he talked about how he had decided to do the tour due to the fact that it was the 20th anniversary of Creed’s debut album My Own Prison. He talked about how it started off his journey of self-discovery at that time in his life. Then the band started in on the title track of the album “My Own Prison”.
What cannot be denied during the show was the amount of crowd participation and singing along was occurring. Fans were going wild standing, clapping, dancing and having a great time many walking down memory lane with Stapp. So many fans seemed to be of age where they were around when My Own Prison was released which seemed to hold a dear place in their hearts as does with Stapp.
Stapp played songs like “Torn”, “Unforgiven” “What If”, “Overcome”, “With Arms Wide Open”, “Higher” and “Weathered” to name a few. Stapp talked about Woodstock and the time he got to rock out with Robbie Kreager of the Doors when he came on stage during the Creed set and played “Roadhouse Blues”. When he and the band went into the song every fan in the audience went wild and sang along.
Eli came in to play bass on “One” which was a song Stapp talked about being a time where the band had some debate on whether or not to put the song on the album because of its more pop vibe. The record company finally convinced them and it became one of their biggest songs. This song when played live was fan the favorite with the crowd going wild, singing and dancing.
The band left the stage with smiles and thank you’s but the crowd was not pleased as they did not want the band to leave. Stapp was all smiles as he was in his true element eating up all the energy and love.
As the band returned, Stapp took a minute to talk about something near and dear to him and his wife’s heart. A few years ago they wanted to make a difference in the lives of young children especially those less fortunate. He and his wife, got involved with ChildFund which held the same beliefs as they did about helping children. So when they visited all over the world especially the Philippines they decided to adopt a village.
They want to make sure no child ever suffers. Stapp said that he would personally meet with anyone who would sponsor a child that night through ChildFund to thank them personally. He talked also about how the next song he was about to play so many people asked for it and how it was fitting for children. Then he went into “Don’t Stop Dancing”.
The beginning of the next song Stapp wanted the crowd to start by the fans singing the chorus of “One Last Breathe” alone. He was so in his element and full of energy. During the set, he did that a couple of times and it truly got all the fans involved. At that point no fans were sitting down.
The last song of the night was “My Sacrifice”, when everyone was singing along. Stapp was touched and energized as well. Fans came down from their seats to stand in front of the stage and get a closer view of the man himself and the band.
One thing can be said, Scott Stapp is a true rock icon. For over twenty years he has entertained millions but at the Paramount Hudson Valley Theatre in Peekskill, New York he truly never sounded better vocally. Stapp might just be one of the greatest rock vocalists in the industry and there is a new energy and peace about him that fans seem to connect to more now than ever.
The fans at the Paramount Hudson Valley Theatre truly got an acoustic rock show like no other that night in Peekskill, New York and they will remember it for years to come.