A few months ago when it was announced that Matchbox Twenty and the Goo Goo Dolls would be making a combined return to Halifax, 1998 me became overly excited, ran out and purchased tickets. I’ve had the opportunity to see both of these bands by themselves in the past (the Goos in 2011 and Matchbox about 10 years ago) but the thought of seeing them together was not something I would miss and although both bands performed at a high level, MB20 were the clear-cut favourites of the night.
Opening up with a new track, Last Hot Night, Johnny Rzeznik and co. came out tight and precise. Trading back and forth on front man duties with bassist, Robby Takac, the Goo Goo Dolls blasted through a set list which consisted of both old and new. Iris, Broadway and Black Balloon all found their way onto the set list but missing were Name, Long Way Down and Amigone. The newer songs were well performed and sounded tight but the people were craving a greatest hits set. Bringing On The Light, Come To Me and Rebel Rebel all seemed to be a little lost on the crowd and you could feel a dip in energy each time a newer track was played.
On a side note, Johnny Rzeznik has not aged well. He’s either had way to much plastic surgery or has the worst plastic surgeon in the world. At the ripe age of 47 your face should not resemble something along the lines of a porcelain doll. And did mention that they didn’t play Name. Seriously, if you’re the Goo Goo Dolls, how do you not play Name. That would be like going to a Tom Petty show and not hearing Free Falling. That’s a song that should be permanently cemented in the set list.
After a quick shot to the concession area and a couple of unexpected conversations with people I haven’t seen in years (funny how music can reunite people) it was time for the main act. While walking to my seat, I had a fearful thought come over me. Maybe these guys weren’t going to pay the game and we were about to be bombarded with tracks from their newest album, North.
To be completely honest, I’ve sat down with both of these bands newest albums and have been less than impressed. Both albums sound like recycled bits from prior albums. At this point, hitting the road and playing greatest hits shows would probably be the best bet.
Luckily for me (and the rest of the sold out crowd) MB20 kept things light on the new stuff and gave the people exactly what they wanted…..all of the hits. Disease, 3am, Bright Lights, Real World and Push were all sprinkled throughout the 20 song set list while older gems Back 2 Good, Bent and Long Day filled in the rest of the blanks. Where the band succeeded was incorporating the newer songs into the set. Radio, She’s So Mean and How Far We’ve Come are all pure, upbeat pop songs that any MB20 fan is going to eat up.
Unlike his touring counterpart Rzeznik, age has been great to Rob Thomas. Vocally MB20’s frontman sounds as good as he did ten years ago and his ability to work the crowd has only gotten better. Whether it was a singalong or a call and answer type song, Thomas had the crowd completely engulfed in all that was Matchbox Twenty.