Matchbox Twenty, Goo Goo Dolls offer pleasing nostalgia

07/13/2013 7:17 AM

07/13/2013 7:17 AM

John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls expressed astonishment that his concert Friday at the Sprint Center was being picketed by an infamous group of Topeka-based protesters. He reminded the audience of about 8,000 that neither his band nor co-headliners Matchbox Twenty perform music that could be construed as controversial. He was right. Both bands have built successful careers by playing conspicuously innocuous music that seems carefully designed not to offend anyone.

The pair of soft rock bands began scoring hits in the 1990s with reassuring affirmations of everyday struggles. "Come To Me," a song from the recently released "Magnetic," the Goo Goo Dolls' 10th studio album, was the highlight of the band's 70-minute set. After dedicating the tender love song to his fiancé, Rzeznik added that his wedding is "in two weeks."

The Goo Goo Dolls' Robby Takac ingratiated the band with the audience by relating that he visited Kansas City institutions including Stroud's restaurant and the National World War I museum on Thursday. The otherwise charming Rzeznik soured a bit of the goodwill garnered by Takac with an ill-considered aside. He introduced the 1995 hit "Name" by suggesting that "this song is so old I can't even remember the words." That's not a sentiment nostalgic fans wanted to hear. One of the evening's biggest ovations came when Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty told the audience that "we're going to keep it back in 1996."

Near the beginning of Matchbox Twenty's 95-minute performance, Thomas apologized to fans for the picketers' noxious messages. He needn't have said a word. All six members of the band wore t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase "Gay O.K."

Thomas' savvy knack for writing radio-ready songs made Matchbox Twenty one of the most commercially successful bands of the past two decades. Infectiously melodic hits like "Unwell" were given exuberant treatments. Thomas occasionally overreached. He sang "If You're Gone" with a soulful conviction worthy of R. Kelly but his vocals on the ponderous "English Town" were comically overwrought.

These lesser efforts were salvaged in part by Matchbox Twenty's spectacular set design. Each facing of the three large cubes suspended over the stage displayed live video and synchronized images. The evening opened with an impressive appearance by Kate Earl. The assured California-based singer-songwriter resembled Taylor Swift on a Fleetwood Mac bender.

Much like a cool glass of water on a warm summer night, the concert was immensely refreshing in spite of the absence of flavor.

MATCHBOX TWENTY SETLIST

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

So Sad So Lonely

English Town

Bright Lights

Don't Change

Back 2 Good

Push

GOO GOO DOLLS SETLIST

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

Iris

Broadway

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