What You See Is What You Get Right In The Middle Of The Road

By George Palathingal, Sydney Morning Herald

Entertainment Centre

July 30

The standard review from any of your cooler-than-thou rock journals would damn Matchbox Twenty with considerable relish before a note had been played.

They would have a case. Matchbox Twenty play rock'n'roll as what you might call the less demanding music fan likes it: anthemic stuff to pump your fists to that is slickly played and presented and, you know, not too heavy. They're the kind of corporate rock band that Nirvana would never have become, but which nonetheless gave Kurt Cobain one nightmare too many.

Truth is, however, they're all right. What you see and what you expect, if you're not a fan and you give them the benefit of the doubt is what you get. The charismatic and likeable frontman, Rob Thomas whose gargantuan collaboration with Carlos Santana, Smooth, a few years back ensured Matchbox Twenty could never be called "faceless" even tells us so.

"We're not trying to reinvent the wheel," he says in his first address to the full Entertainment Centre, a couple of songs in. "We just want everyone to have a good time and forget about your job or school or whatever for a couple of hours."

They embark on this mission with the unlikely beast of a rock riff around which Cold is based, before quickly setting their stall in the middle of the road.

Thomas removes his pristine leather jacket, a discreet tattoo peeping from under each of his T-shirt sleeves (who are you calling square?), and the Matchbox Twenty collection of rock anthems with just a hint of country and blues continues.

Sure, there are times when it takes a particularly upbeat or maybe just vaguely recognisable song such as past single Bent to snap non-believers back to attention. But for the faithful at least, there's plenty to sing along with and nod your head to.

And no-one over 25 is going to argue with the note-perfect, tribute band-style cover of Simple Minds' Don't You (Forget About Me) that fulfils Thomas's " '80s wet dream" about halfway through.

As promised, by the end of the show you've been entertained, if not blown away, and having been played virtually all of the album More Than You Think You Are and a decent selection from its two predecessors, there can be few complaints about value for money.

Really, there are worse places to be stuck for a couple of hours than the middle of the road.