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MUSIC REVIEW

Creed gives its fervent fans reason to pump their fists

By James Reed
Globe Staff / August 20, 2009

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MANSFIELD - A cynic, and most everyone else, would be tempted to say a Creed reunion was as hotly anticipated as one from, say, those two Spanish guys who recorded “Macarena’’ in the mid-1990s.

But judging from the heavily attended, if only halfway sold-out, show at the Comcast Center Tuesday night, that’s clearly not the case. Creed fans are a loyal lot and evidently hungry for another chance to see frontman Scott Stapp stalk the stage armed with a clutch of hulking hard-rock anthems.

Of course, fervent fans don’t guarantee a dynamic show, but Creed seems to be a different beast these days. Back on the road for the first time since disbanding in 2004, the group kept the two-hour show rolling through hits that, like it or not, defined alternative rock in the late ’90s and early 2000s. If you grew up then and pretend you don’t know “Higher’’ or “With Arms Wide Open,’’ you’re either lying or never owned a car with FM radio.

Those songs have aged surprisingly well, as dense and disposable as ever. Creed wasn’t just restricted to the singalongs (“My Own Prison,’’ “What’s This Life For’’), though. With a new album, “Full Circle,’’ set for October, the band debuted a pair of upcoming songs (the title track and “Overcome’’), and they sounded promising, heavy but not quite as leaden like so much of Creed’s catalog.

Never exactly known for his humility, Stapp was endearingly humbled by the warm reception at several points, closing his eyes and folding his hands as he thanked the audience. In black leather pants and a sweat-soaked shirt he’d later tear off, he was the consummate booster as he sidled up to his bandmates and put his arm around their necks as they played stinging solos.

Stapp has the original Creed lineup behind him on this tour, including guitar ace Mark Tremonti (a star in his own right), drummer Scott Phillips, and bassist Brian Marshall, who had left the group in 2000. Eric Friedman on rhythm guitar rounded out the touring band.

Stapp kept busy, too, crouching and twisting onstage - and bellowing, lots and lots of bellowing. The man doesn’t so much sing as he intones lyrics in a bottomless baritone that tends to nail a note and then draw it out. Sometimes, like on “Never Die,’’ it suited the songs’ brooding temperament; too often, though, it just fell flat and hard on the ears.

On the closing “Higher,’’ Stapp stormed back and forth to the sound of rumbling cheers, pumping his fists. He looked ecstatic and, safe to say, probably relieved that his fans are still game to party like it’s 1999.

James Reed can be reached at jreed@globe.com.

CREED

With Like a Storm and Resin

At: Comcast Center, Tuesday

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