Review: Matchbox Twenty
REVIEW BY JACQUELYN CARBERRY / firstname.lastname@example.org
For Matchbox Twenty fans, the band’s sold-out show Wednesday night, Nov. 13, at the Blaisdell Concert Hall just might have been the concert of the year.
The four seasoned performers — lead singer Rob Thomas, guitarist Kyle Cook, bassist Brian Yale and rhythm guitarist/drummer/piano player “Rev.” Paul Doucette — put on a tight, solid show, energetically playing music for two hours, mostly from their first three albums: “Yourself or Someone Like You,” “Mad Season” and “More Than You Think You Are.”
They repeatedly criss-crossed the Concert Hall stage, Doucette dipping into the back of the audience at one point to connect with the crowd, half of whom was dressed up for a Wednesday night out on the town, the other half dressed in T-shirts and jeans similar to the performers on stage. (“Sometimes the spirit moves the Reverend,” joked Thomas as Doucette did his thing, “and we lose him.”)
Though it might have been a casual concert, by no means was it lacking in energy on either the audience’s part or the performers. Notes played were crisp; lyrics sung were impressively clear. Matchbox Twenty may be one of the few bands who, respectfully, sound better in concert than even on their albums. Their honed, polished, professional approach to live music sets them apart from their peers, and though the band functions well as a unit, they are clearly four individuals who love playing music for the sake of music, as shown by the numerous amount of side projects they all take part in.
Thomas noted the crowd was “f-ing lovely.” Fans loved him right back, bestowing lei on him and other members of the band at the end of the show. For this particular concert, the band concluded with a five-song encore, including songs such as “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Downfall,” closing with a formal bow and lingering on stage to throw picks out to members of the audience while Cook took photos of the crowd.
The band was in Honolulu to support their latest album, “North,” released in 2012. The band also celebrated a milestone while here — Wednesday’s tour date was the last in support of their fourth studio release. Thomas mentioned the band had been slogging away on the road for the last year. The Honolulu show was the band’s first time here in 15 years, and the first one they also headlined.
Thomas joked during the introduction to “Real World” that he was going to bring the audience back to 1996 — a reference to the release date of their debut album, “Yourself or Someone Like You,” which contained the song.
Rather than distance themselves from their past, Matchbox Twenty embraced it. More than two thirds of the music played on stage were songs from the bands’ earliest albums, dusted with a sprinkling of songs from “North.” They were also joined by touring guitarist and keyboardist Matt Beck of Honolulu and touring drummer Stacy Jones of American Hi–Fi fame.
With the exception of “She’s So Mean,” most of the music from “North” was played in the latter part of the band’s 21-song set, but whether it was a strategic move on the band’s part to slowly introduce new music to the audience or simply give fans their favorite songs was is unclear. Fan reaction likely would have been positive either way, given their enthusiasm for each song that was played.
For “3 a.m.,” an early hit from the band’s repertoire, the audience was louder than the singer. Not that Thomas minded; he encouraged the audience to sing along, even including the lyrics to their closing song, “Push.”
Though he didn’t let the patter between songs overshadow the music, Thomas was a congenial, charismatic performer, asking the audience after every few songs, “how are you doing right now, baby?” Sort of like an attentive date, Thomas’ banter set the tone for the show. As he motioned to the crowd to rise from their seats, the floor level gladly obliged.
Honolulu-based singer/songwriter Erika Elona kicked off the night, performing an acoustic set before Matchbox Twenty took the stage.