Triple bill proves one of summer's finest concerts

By Al Choman, Citizens' Voice Music Critic
August 13, 2001

Matchbox twenty has never pretended to be anything else other than the well-received, hit machine that it has turned out to be.

And tell me, what's wrong with that? Nothing!

While Rob Thomas and company have taken their share of knocks for being formalistic and contrived, the raps have come from those that surely don't know them well enough. They set out from Florida to be a hit-making rock 'n' roll band. Fifteen million albums, a few Grammy nominations and rave concert reviews later would indicate that they are well on course.

Making their second area appearance within a year, matchbox twenty teamed with Train and Old 97's to rock Montage Mountain Sunday night before 10,000 people at the Coors Light Amphitheater.

The triple bill performance proved to be one of the finest concert surprises of the summer as Train and creative Texans, Old 97's, made for credible additions to matchbox twenty to provide a solid lineup from start to finish.

Old 97's interesting blend of post-country punk deserved way more than the minuscule time allotment afforded opening acts. They are a refreshing musical unit that we will undoubtedly hear more from.

Matchbox twenty sounded tunefully fit despite their arduous touring schedule. They belted out nearly all of their hit recordings from their highly successful debut, "Yourself and Someone Like You," as well as a generous helping from "Mad Season." Devilishly handsome lead singer Rob Thomas cradled the microphone and sang with the soulful intensity of Van Morrison while still revealing a more playful whimsy when he communicated with the crowd.

Thomas roams about the stage with the nervous energy of Jagger, bouncing, twirling and whirling with his hands cupped inside his long-sleeve sweater.

Behind him are three projection panels serving as a platform for drums and keyboard. Each panel changes with each song, reflecting colored menageries of blurred, abstract images and nature landscapes.

"Push," "Real World," "3 A.M.," "Crutch," "Bent," "A Girl Like That" and "If You're Gone" were absolutely luscious. Thomas' voice rang with clarity and the band sounded crisp and melodic. Kyle Cook and Adam Gaynor's searing guitars were complimented by the thumping rhythm section of Brian Yale (bass) and Paul Doucette (drums).

The music of matchbox twenty is not complicated. It's not laden with hidden meanings or double entendres. Matchbox twenty makes songs about loves lost and found, relationships, and their take on life around them.

Their musical hooks are clever and catchy and Thomas belts them out with the authority and wallop of the finest Tennessee whiskey. In most cases, too, their impact is the same.

There was no room Sunday night for the hyper-analytical dissection that's been done to matchbox twenty. Besides, I don't think that they care. Their recorded music is radio friendly, their concert performances are audience accessible and they're never pretentious. That's refreshing!

Sunday night, matchbox twenty reaffirmed their brand of infectious pop which is almost too hard to resist. Their live performance would tell you not to even try. Plain and simple, they are worth it!