Matchbox Twenty pares down to emotion

By Young Chang; Seattle Times staff reporter

When Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas proposed, at the beginning of the concert at the KeyArena Monday night, that the doors get locked and everyone inside celebrate life together, the crowd roared in approval.

It was an ironic plea, given that so much of Thomas' songwriting is about self-doubt and misunderstanding. Still, the band made good on the promise to create an uplifting, emotional experience.

Thomas clutched the mike and wailed in his, at times, tortured way. His distinctive voice, which soaked into the microphone for "Disease," moved the crowd to side with him even as he punched his chest and wailed about being "bent" and scared that he'd "never get put back together."

Said Stephanie Prummer, who came with teenage daughter Brenda, "Very rarely do I hear someone who feels so much that it moves me to tears."

Maroon5 opened the show, which continued with a lively, feel-good hour with Sugar Ray.

Fans were clearly smitten with a personable Mark McGrath, who embraced the first row of fans and ran onto the center of the floor and bent down on one knee, wooing a little girl in the audience named Christina to sing "I just want to fly" into his mike.

But as the sets changed from the colorful, retro backdrop behind McGrath to a sleek, almost-sterile stage with just some drums and speakers, so did the personalities.

Matchbox Twenty, playing a mix of hits from old and new albums, dismissed theatrics and appealed to people's emotions entirely through their musicianship. Quieter songs like drummer Paul Doucette's "Could I Be You," and the huge hit "If You're Gone," resonated with sincerity and impact.

Before performing the band's newest hit "Unwell" from the album "More Than You Think You Are," Thomas told the crowd that there are two kinds of people in this world: People who realize it's OK to be a little messed up, and people who try to hide it. He dedicated "Unwell" to those in the first category.

Young Chang: 206-748-5815 or