Written by Michael Pittman
Jul 30, 2013 at 07:00 PM
ImageIt was hot..wait..it was HOT. Well, this IS summer in Houston isn’t it? It was Tuesday night in the Woodlands Pavilion and the place was packed. 11,500 (out of a capacity 15,500) people filled the covered seats and the lawn areas beyond to see these two late 90’s pop super-power bands relive their glory days with an agreeable mix of the tunes that drove them to the top and a few of the new.

It was also ladies night.

Both bands were out to promote new offerings. After a recording hiatus of 10 years Matchbox 20 released North in 2012 with Goo Goo Dolls having just released Magnetic (their 10th) in June.

Kate Earl (http://thekateearl.com/home) really deserves credit. Imagine being the opener for a super-duo like this and having to run a short set besides. Hats off to the brave lady who actually sounded pretty good.

Check out One Woman Army at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIHon-HS0uI. As I was putting this article together I found myself going from song to song. Just simple, honest songs. Nice stuff.

ImageGoo Goo Dolls started at about 8:15 with “Last Hot Night” from the new project and played for a little over an hour. I’ve always liked John Rzeznik ever since the Iris days of the late 90’s but I can’t say I’ve followed the Dolls year after year. I recently got re-aquainted with him on a show called Live From Daryl’s house. (Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates fame @ http://www.livefromdarylshouse.com ). He’s a veteran and still has a great voice, but this night he, as the entire band did, seem to be kinda like “Hey..it’s hot and we’re tired”.

New tunes “Come to Me” and “Bringing On the Light” were also mixed into the setlist.  Many in the audience actually knew the words to the album’s first single “Rebel Beat.”

The basic Dolls trio consisted of John Rzeznik on guitar, bass guitarist Robby Takac and drummer Mike Malinin. Added to the touring lineup is Korel Tunador on keys, sax, guitar and vocals and Brad Fernquist on guitar, mandolin and vocals.

As Rzeznik introduced Iris he said he was glad to be here after 17 years, which made me think, ‘Hey..this is corporate rock, but this cat has staying power which is a good thing”. But age has a way of catching up with all of us (unless you’re Steven Tyler) and Rzeznik is no different. As cordial as he was to the audience, he had to drop the keys on several songs to make ends meet which isn’t altogether a bad thing but it changes the dynamic of the harmonies and some of the musical structure.

ImageAll in all I liked their show. Photographically speaking I like acts like this because of the lighting and stage sets they do. The music was always front and center but it was interesting visually. The on stage video was complimented by HUGE screens on either side of the stage. It’s something the venue does, but nevertheless contributes to the larger than lifeness of the performers.

Speaking of cool sets, Matchbox Twenty spared no expense in creating a stage that was both visually interesting and actually easy to see. The multi-tiered risers were studded with lighting. The entire stage was almost overwhelming at times when all the spots, backlights, washes and specialty lights got going.

3 time Grammy nominated Rob Thomas fronted the band as always with characteristic energy and with a voice that never wavered and even seemed stronger than I would have expected. The entire show was well rehearsed and the segues carried effortlessly from scene to scene. Again, I found myself thinking about corporate rock and staying power and all that stuff, but quickly got past that and just settled back and enjoyed myself. These cats were cookin tonight and THAT counts. By the way, Rob Thomas also did a Live From Daryl’s House which you’ll want to check out at http://www.livefromdarylshouse.com.

ImageMatchbox Twenty opened the show with Parade (www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvJDnvbnmH4) off of the new record which featured longtime member Kyle Cook on guitar. (This, by the way was the only song we were allowed to photograph..unusual, but hey..it’s what they wanted, right Levi?) New tunes from “North” included “She’s So Mean,” “I Will,” “Radio,” “English Town” and “The Way” and were all greeted like old hits. The band balanced the show with favorites including “How Far We’ve Come,” “3 A.M.,” “Unwell,” “Bright Lights,” “If You’re Gone,” “Bent” and “So Sad So Lonely.”

Guitarist Paul Doucette laid everybody low with a long, well crafted solo on “Disease” besides playing piano, percussion and doing some strong vocal work.

One thing that struck me as I watched this show was the way that everyone seemed to know all the words to all the songs, old and new.  In spite of the heat on this Tuesday night 11,500 people were dancing and singing and reliving their own glory days. Then it really struck me…for most of the people tonight THIS was nostalgia from the late 90’s!

I REALLY need to stop having birthdays. I’m giving them all away, I don’t want that parade to leave me now. A great show at the right time. Thanks again LiveNation.


Last Hot Night, Naked, Slide, Here Is Gone, Rebel Beat, Black Balloon, Now I Hear, Another Second Time Around, Let Love In, Come to Me, Name, Bringing on the Light, Give a Little Bit, Better Days, Stay With You.

Iris, Broadway


Parade, Bent, Disease, She’s So Mean, How Far We’ve Come, 3 A.M., Real World, If You’re Gone, Our Song, Long Day, I Will, Unwell, Radio, English Town, Bright Lights.

Back2Good, Push