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Old-school Creed swaggers before record-setting crowd

Published on 10-05-1999
Published at Boston Globe

Perhaps it had more to do with timing, and the late release of extra seats beside the stage, than divine assistance. But Creed set a new rock-show attendance mark for the Tsongas Arena Saturday, drawing a crowd of 7,000 that edged out Florida counterpart Limp Bizkit's Woodstock-eve bash there.

Creed is a different breed from the Bizkit. Rather than rile up fans with chaotic rap-metal while railing about breaking things, Creed does it old-school, playing anthemic four-piece hard rock with vague biblical allusions.

At the Tsongas Arena, the band still sounded like Pearl Jam in ''My Own Prison'' and ''With Arms Wide Open,'' a life-embracing new song inspired by the infant son of Scott Stapp, the deep-voiced singer whose tousle-haired flailings fuel comparisons to Eddie Vedder.

Yet Creed is a streamlined unit that revels in the grand strokes Vedder usually avoided. Stapp harks back to the days of charismatic frontmen, hunching and stalking about like mid-'80s Bono (in addition to sharing his spiritual bent) or Jim Morrison (remember, Creed invited the Doors' Robby Krieger onstage at Woodstock '99). There was an extra touch of Morrison's Lizard King in Stapp's spoken lines during ''Say I,'' where he asked fans to raise their spirits. Add metal-chink guitar from Mark Tremonti (notably in ''Higher'') and clean rhythms from bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips, and you've got a band as overwrought as Live, but with more swagger and street cred.

After a rousing opening where fans roared along to ''Torn,'' Creed slowly worked toward redundancy. But it was intriguing to hear moshers singing Christian-tinged choruses like ''We all live under the reign of one king'' in place of nilhistic angst.

Not that positiveness kept moshers under control. Just before Creed began, one crowd-surfing girl left on a stretcher (arena management said she fell on her head and was OK, but was sent to the hospital as a precaution) and one guy threw a running punch at another during ''One'' - not exactly the kind of ''I feel angry, I feel helpless'' that Stapp was singing about.

Creed was better onstage than on disc, but not Our Lady Peace. The Toronto quartet mixes more art-rock textures on its new CD, but even with Boston keyboardist-guitarist Jamie Edwards, most tunes sounded like retreads of ''Superman's Dead.'' Exceptions were the hooky ''Clumsy'' and the new ''Stealing Babies,'' where Jeremy Taggart evoked the cymbal-crashing joy of jazz drummer Elvin Jones, a guest on the disc. Too bad that nasal singer Raine Maida said Jones ''started jazz,'' dashing credibility.

West Coast band Oleander began the night, reflecting both grunge and pop elements, though little proved distinctive.

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