Paul Doucette & Rob Thomas -- the Keith & Mick of Matchbox Twenty/ Associated Press photo by Charles Sykes
A few thoughts after seeing Matchbox Twenty’s two-hour set at sold-out Mystic Lake Casino on Friday.
• Train is certainly more gimmicky and flashier with its staging. Maroon 5 – well, Adam Levine – has more sex appeal. But, of those radio bands, Matchbox Twenty offers a straightforward, unadorned delivery that reminds listeners why those songs sounded so good on the radio.
• Rob Thomas’ slightly raspy voice still sounds like radio money. He is a very earnest and engaging performer.
• Thomas, who will turn 41 on Valentine’s Day, sweats a lot for a guy who doesn’t seem to be working it that hard.
• The set began with a half-hour of hits. Sometimes you forget just how many radio faves this band produced, starting in 1996..
• In its 25-song set, MB20 skipped its hit “Mad Season” but did covers of the Faces’ “Stay with Me” and R.E.M.’s “The One I Love” – plus a snippet of Jane’s Addiction’s “Jane Says.”
• The sextet offered eight songs from last year’s “North,” the group’s slowest selling album. Most of the tunes fit in seamlessly except for “Radio” with its punkish beat, the dancefloor-oriented “Put Your Hands Up” and “Sleeping at the Wheel,” which sounded like a U2 anthem.
• By not adding many long guitar solos, MB20 played versions pretty true to the radio hits. Is that why they call it adult-contemporary rock?
• Thomas and his group of 17 years did not perform “Smooth” or anything else from his solo career.
• That was the best sound I’ve ever heard at Mystic Lake’s Showroom. I believe it was the band’s traveling sound system, not the casino’s house sound system.
• That was one of the loudest crowds I’ve heard at Mystic Lake’s Showroom. Was it because of MB20’s performance or the recently implemented (and long overdue) alcohol sales at the casino?
• Opening act Phillip Phillips, 22, is the most impressive “American Idol” champ as a live act right out of the box. He’s comfortable and confident doing his own material. Sure, he owes a lot to Dave Matthews and Mumford & Sons. But “Home” is a bona fide winner on which to start building a career.
Here is Matchbox 20’s set list:
Parade/ Bent/ Disease/ She’s So Mean/ How Far We’ve Come/ 3 AM/ Real World/ Girl Like That/ If You’re Gone/ Overjoyed/ All Your Reasons/ Long Day/ I Will/ Unwell/ Radio/ Stay with Me (the Faces)/ So Sad So Lonely/ English Town/ This Way/ Bright Lights/ Sleeping at the Wheel ENCORE Put Your Hands Up/ Back to Good/ The One I Love (R.E.M.)/ Push