If It’s Christmas, It’s Scott Weiland

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Good people of Christendom: the season for rejoicing is upon us. The season when gritty, hard-rock singers who have rehab on speed dial transform themselves — even for two short weeks of touring — into Christmas crooners.

The season when a few hundred (debatably) wise souls see a star in the sky (or an ad in the paper) that leads them the 9:30 Club in DC to genuflect before said crooner and wonder what the hell it all means.

Let’s set the unusual scene: a normally standing-room club transformed into a seated cabaret, with cocktail tables, tea lights on the floor, strings of Christmas lights hanging everywhere and a very Vegas-y Christmas tree onstage. And a band. A big band. Horns! Strings! Piano! Jazz guitar! Fourteen of ’em in all!

And finally, 50 minutes after the posted start time, was Mr. Weiland himself, his hair slicked back, his outfit a blue blazer, crisp white shirt and club tie, at least an element of which he confessed to picking up in Georgetown that afternoon.

No sooner did we wonder if Bublé had ever made them wait that long than Weiland was off, into “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “The Christmas Song,” a jazzed up, go-go version of “Silent Night” and the all-too-predictable arrangement of David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s take on “The Little Drummer Boy.”

The result? Weiland was a little uncertain of his phrasing and lyrics in spots, and while he has a fine voice — undeniably powerful from the lower register, with good breath control and vibrato — its slightly imperfect pitch makes it (surprise) more suited to growling over Marshall stacks than crooning behind a string section. The whole thing, in fact, came off a bit like a high-school holiday revue, fronted by an unusually charismatic senior.

Maybe he knew this, because The Gospel According to Scott lasted a mere 30 minutes before he announced to the room that it was time to switch gears and get into some rock and roll. And so he spent the next 40 minutes (yes, the season of giving apparently doesn’t warrant giving more than a 70-minute set) dipping into the STP back catalog, as the strings first exited stage right, followed later by the horns stage left, leaving only his core four-piece, cranking the volume ever louder as he twirled and snake danced.

The highlights: a raucous “Vasoline,” a deeply soulful take on “Atlanta”, the Morrison-esque track that closes No. 4 and a spirited cover of Jane’s Addiction’s “Mountain Song.”

Although we couldn’t help but wish for a “Mountain Song”/”Go Tell It on the Mountain” medley.

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