by YAVONDA FLETCHER
Matchbox twenty is finally making its way to Alltel Arena. On their last touring go-round, Rob Thomas and the gang were supposed to pay a visit to central Arkansas on Sept. 14, 2001. But then Sept. 11 happened and like many bands, matchbox twenty postponed, then canceled shows, including its stop in the Natural State.
But now they're coming - really, they are - and promise a wealth of tunes from their latest, and best (according to drummer Paul Doucette) album More Than You Think You Are.
"This album is the anti-Mad Season," Doucette says, referring to the group's second album that many criticized as overblown, a sentiment even Doucette agrees with now.
After making that album, Doucette says, the band realized that wasn't the direction they wanted to go. Instead the guys got back to "five guys in a room" playing their brand of radio-friendly rock music.
Matchbox twenty, made up of lead singer Thomas, Doucette, Kyle Cook, Adam Gaynor and Brian Yale, burst onto the scene in late 1996 with Yourself or Someone Like You, which spawned the hits "Push," "3 am," "Real World" and "Back 2 Good" and ultimately went platinum 12 times.
In 2000, the band released the experimental Mad Season, which went quadruple-platinum thanks to "Bent," "Mad Season" and "If You're Gone."
Despite their successes, including a slew of hit singles and songwriting awards for Thomas, Doucette says, "Until now, we weren't a band that had much of an identity in our music."
A criticism, he says, that More Than You Think You Are, with its emphasis on songwriting collaborations, has put to rest. (Cook, Thomas and Doucette co-wrote "Feel" and "Soul" while Doucette penned "Could I Be You").
And now this newly energized matchbox twenty is ready to hit the road. After the European leg of the tour was postponed due to the war in Iraq, the band kicks off its More Than You Think You Are tour tonight in New Orleans, then heads to Arkansas for Saturday's show.
Doucette promises the show will be a "spectacle," but coyly refuses to offer any details. He reveals that the tour will feature a rotating set list so that fans who hit up multiple concerts will get a different show each night. Besides that, the band "hopes we're giving everything people want," but Doucette cautions that with three albums it's tougher to do everyone's favorite songs.
Joining matchbox twenty on the bill are Sugar Ray and Maroon 5. Sugar Ray - known for such hits as "Fly," "Every Morning," "Someday" and "When Its Over" - is hitting the road to promote its fifth album In The Pursuit Of Leisure, which drops June 3. Maroon 5, a L.A. quartet blends soul sounds with alternative rock. MUSIC
matchbox twenty Opening acts: Sugar Ray and Maroon 5 7 p.m. Saturday, Alltel Arena, North Little Rock Admission: $ 39.35, $ 49.25
This story was originally published on Friday, April 25, 2003.