Performing together on a co-headline tour, Matchbox Twenty and the Goo Goo Dolls rolled into Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury, Md., on August 20. With only a few dates left on the tour, fans were rewarded with a pair of high caliber sets. Opener Kate Earl got the evening started.
The Wicomico Civic Center might have been one of the smaller venues on the tour. Given its more intimate confines, it certainly made the evening more special for the couples and entire families that coursed through the doors for the night's show. Kate Earl hit the stage around 7:15 p.m., roughly fifteen minutes prior to the announced start time as fans continued to trickle into the auditorium, for a 30-minute set.
A quick set change ensued and the Goo Goo Dolls were performing by 8:00 p.m. Vocalist Johnny Rzeznik smiled at the crowd and said, "I promise you tonight is going to be a great time, you just have to let it happen." They opened with "Last Hot Night" from their current release, "Magnetic;" while also adding in "Rebel Beat," "Come to Me" and "Bringing on the Light" from the new album.
Rzeznik noted that "Come to Me" was written for his girlfriend, now his wife. Lyrics flashed across their digital backdrop, as the song tells a tale of two people who grow old together through life's ups and downs. Bassist Robby Takac took lead vocals for "Bringing on the Light" and "Second Time Around."
Fans jumped to their feet during most of the Goo Goo Dolls' old-school hits, including "Slide," "Black Balloon," "Name" and "Better Days." However, the pairing of "Iris" and "Broadway" to close their show brought the greatest response as fans swayed and sang along. The Goo did well to push out fifteen songs despite only having an hour to perform.
Matchbox Twenty appeared just before 9:30 p.m., opening with "Parade," the lead track from 2012's "North." It's evident why Matchbox Twenty has achieved multi-platinum success the moment Rob Thomas sings. His vocal clarity and precise intonation coupled perfectly with their music. Anybody who attends one of their live shows certainly walks away as a lifetime fan.
Their stage show mixed strong lighting with a tiered stage, placing touring drummer Stacy Jones near the center of a pyramid of stairs. The outer edges of the stairs and stage platforms were illuminated at times throughout the night, providing a striking contrast to the otherwise black background. A trio of three-dimensional video cubes were suspended from above, projecting live video feeds in addition to music video clips and lyrics.
Thomas addressed the crowd, saying "Welcome to the old-fashioned-feel-good-extravaganza show." He added, "It's a Tuesday, we don't want it to feel like a Tuesday. Let's forget about all the s*** that we have in our lives and celebrate life together." His comments offered a nice segue into "She's So Mean."
The band projects a family-like camaraderie and musical tightness that evokes warmth. Guitarist Kyle Cook and bassist Brian Yale contribute to vocal harmonies, while also churning out a constant melody for Thomas' vocals. Matt Beck ties it all together on guitar, mandolin and additional percussion, enriching the depth of their immaculate play.
Early hits "3. a.m." and "Real World" enraptured the crowd, though the night was also about their new music. Roughly one-third of their 90-minute set was culled from "North." Thomas admitted to be nursing a virus, stating "I came in here with a cold, you're making me feel much better." Despite his ailment, he showed absolutely no indication given his energy and strong vocal performance throughout the night. They finished with a three-song encore of INXS' "Don't Change" followed by "Back 2 Good" and "Push."
Matchbox Twenty setlist:
She's So Mean
How Far We've Come
If You're Gone
So Sad So Lonely
Don't Change (INXS cover)
Back 2 Good