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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Creed is all apologies as it rocks without originality

October 22, 2002|Steve Appleford | Special to The Times

Scott Stapp wants your forgiveness. Earlier this month, the singer's throat problems caused Creed to postpone a Staples Center concert only hours before show time. And that concert had already been rescheduled from a May cancellation.

"Thank you guys for waiting," Stapp said near the beginning of Creed's concert Sunday at Staples, and fans cheered in response. "I can feel the energy in this room."

He would express gracious thanks again at the end of the 100-minute performance, but he really didn't need to be so apologetic -- the band still enjoys a cushion of massive popularity, fueled by the multi-platinum sales of its most recent album, "Weathered."

Not much has changed with the band since its 1997 debut, although the influences are better hidden now.

Eddie Vedder remains the model of choice for Stapp, strutting and crouching down a catwalk set deep into Sunday's crowd as the band ignited a blend of hard rock and confessional lyrics.

"This is where we become one," he announced at one point, holding the microphone out to the crowd, once again embracing the messianic side of rock stardom, following a tradition that stretches from Robert Plant to Lenny Kravitz.

Stapp is often the target of scorn for Creed's obnoxious unoriginality, but guitarist Mark Tremonti is equally to blame, with sludgy riffs that are often anonymous and repetitive. His brief solo for "With Arms Wide Open" somehow veered off, as if from another song, another band -- this one maybe led by Peter Frampton.

Creed could occasionally land a stirring hard-rock riff. Tremonti picked out an exotic pattern for "Say I," a song that rocked hard but was ultimately empty, not unlike the songs of Bush.

"Who's Got My Back" and "One Last Breath" were stretched-out epics, with searching lyrics and crunchy chords, but too long and again reaching too hard for profundity. Some things you just can't forgive.

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