No long-time Scott Stapp fan needs to know anything about passion. For more than two decades, the artist who, with three other bandmates, birthed Creed. Stapp has since forged a thriving solo career. Nothing is surface-level or a slick, choreographed performance for Stapp. The setlist may stay the same, but he takes his cue and his music completely to heart. A Scott Stapp concert is about real and lasting connections, and it all comes through in rising, unforgettable choruses.

A full house was expected for the July 13 show at the Dallas House of Blues, and after a fortunately uneventful sound check, one of the only questions from the headliner was “Are these OK to stand on?” referring to the stage monitor speakers. Scott Stapp has always used his music to inspire listeners to rise through trials and that message is made vivid in every performance. The songwriter and lead guitarist, Yiannis Papadopoulos, take turns cheerleading atop those high perches and personally looking into the eyes of many among the throng who are singing back every word.

Priming for purpose

The opening bands priming the crowd in advance of Scott Stapp could not have been more different. The New Jersey band, Weapons of Anew, have some heavy artillery in their arsenal, with vocalist Ray West and Freddy Ordine, and Chris Manfre and Stefan Reno Cutrupi on bass and drums. They showcased their latest song, “Killshot,” and demonstrate the ability to harmonize well, too, but sadly, their four-letter laced conversation with the audience and rock 'n roll swagger over substance diluted the set.

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The crowd was receptive but hardly rousing.

A hometown welcome was given to Dallas-based band, Messer, with many attendees displaying their loyalty. Their contrasting set was filled with songs with understandable verses over screams and messages about life that complemented the themes of the music from the main attraction. Dereak Messer and company are clearly seasoned performers, having been together a decade, and the band delivers a diverse and powerful set.

The songs from their self-titled album, including “Make This Life,” facilitate the perfect entrance for Scott Stapp.

Reflecting on the deep messages of life is the core of the artistry for the beloved 45-year-old premier songwriter and parent, who understands the strength and purpose of his musical and personal legacy. There has never been a more perfect, scorching, surging show-starter than “Bullets.” Scott Stapp delivers the song with a surge, truth, and a voice improved through the passage of time.

Bassist Sammy Hudson joins Papadopoulos and Ben Flanders in ricocheting from side to side on stage, amidst a screen of smoke, and having a splendid time playing off each other in every riff.

Taking the pledge and moving higher

The weaponizing of words and rhetoric evoked in the opening classic couldn't seem more relevant than in these times. It was followed up by Scott's first number one solo song, “Slow Suicide,” from 2013’s “Proof of Life.” The audience was a mix of longtime devotees and first-timers to the frontman’s show, but every voice was completely in sync with “My Own Prison” and a blazing “What If” that set fire to the stage, notwithstanding pyrotechnics.

Scott Stapp is undeniably proud of the songs on “The Space Between the Shadows,” his third solo effort, and first with Napalm Records. The songs embrace a variety of tempos and take on his own personal truths more directly than ever. The live offerings from the collection began with “World I Used to Know,” casting the stage in red light with the artist at the center of the vortex shapes, with his vocal supported by lead guitar shreds. The other four songs played from the album are all prereleases, with the full album dropping July 19.

Not everyone was familiar with “Face Of The Sun,” but the song is an infectious, groove-driven declaration of overcoming which becomes more addictive with every listen. The songwriter continually encouraged the audience that the ashes left behind don’t dictate the life to be had with healing. He has come through his dark siege and his spirit reverberates from the stage with hope and help for anyone still in the struggle.

Stapp's introduction for “Name” is even more poignant. For the first time ever in song, he weaves the story of his biological father's departure with the oppressive, dysfunctional manifestation of religion by his stepfather. He elaborates on how an afternoon of watching his older children play with his toddler son sparked self-knowledge that he never knew that warmth of security, love, and affection.

“There's a lot of us like that, “ he relates to the crowd. “Not everybody loses a father, but we all have stuff.” Elaborating the healing that comes from facing the truth, the singer admonishes, “We’ve all got baggage, but don't carry that forward,” before moving into the verses. The song is a promise and pledge that his own children will not carry the load of his own parental lacking

The Grammy-winning artist continued his uplifting testament of grace flowing from suffering in the introduction of “Purpose for Pain.” The pounding anthem provided another showcase for Stapp’s vocals and playful push and shove interplay with the band. “When you have a loss, a hurt, there's grace in that,” the composer assured his listeners. Nothing is ever wasted in the divine journey of life.

Gone Too Soon” is another new song gift, released the day of the show. The moving, intricately accompanied tribute honors the life and passing of Soundgarden's Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. Stapp confirms that no matter the age of a loved one, the loss hurts the same. He and his wife, Jaclyn, are committed advocates for mental health and addiction recovery initiatives, and there was a reverent feel from the pit to the back rows and balcony after the song. We all know someone not here to sing or celebrate more special days because they felt helpless and alone. Until the promise of “forever” comes, simply being a person who cares can mean survival.

Phone flashlights glowed through swaying hands for “With Arms Wide Open,” the song that introduced the world to Creed beyond the heavy metal charts. No one carries or closes a show on a more memorable note than Scott Stapp, and he and the band didn't disappoint, as sing-alongs palpably vibrated the floor through “Higher.”

The swell came to a peak with the encore of “One Last Breath” and “My Sacrifice.” Again, and again, Scott Stapp’s faithful prove that they are ready anytime he attests that “I just want to say ‘Hello’ again.” The goodbyes are the tough part, but everything stored in the “heart of memories” lasts forever, through the grace of a song and a giving artist.

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