Rob Thomas lifts band above the ordinary

By Kim Roberts, Omaha World Herald (Nebraska)

Matchbox Twenty rules the radio, but the group proved Monday night it could hold its own on the stage, too.

The pop-rock band gave an engaging performance before about 8,000 people at the Omaha Arena.

Matchbox Twenty, which has more No. 1 hits on the Modern Adult Contemporary and Adult Top 40 charts than any other artist, had plenty of radio hits from which to choose.

Still, it might have been an ordinary show if not for Rob Thomas.

In spite of being hospitalized the last couple of days, the charismatic front man dominated the show with his powerful vocals. Thomas did not disclose what he was treated for, other than to say: "I'm not on drugs, and I don't have cancer."

The group's set started a little slow, with songs from its recent album, "More Than You Think You Are," including "Feel" and "Disease." But the energy level went full throttle when Thomas began singing "Real World" about five songs into the set.

The audience sang along with Thomas and cheered Kyle Cook's nimble guitar playing.

The two paired up for an acoustic version of "If You're Gone," a nice change of pace from the more up-tempo radio version.

The band went on to perform its current radio hit, "Unwell," along with older favorites such as "Back 2 Good" and "3 AM."

The set included glitzy lights and a large video screen, which flashed images of New York during "Bright Lights."

Perhaps the most surprising segment of the show came from Cook, who did a stand-out cover of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold," while Thomas wailed on a harmonica.

After the group performed for 80 minutes, the crowd's applause brought it out again for an extended encore that included the band's breakout hit, "Push."

New York's Fountains of Wayne, a twangy-flavored pop-rock band, opened the show with songs mostly from its self-titled debut CD and the more recent "Welcome Interstate Managers."

The band showcased its songwriting abilities on quirky numbers such as "Sink to the Bottom" and "Bright Future in Sales," all performed with seemingly tireless energy.

But it wasn't until the group busted out with "Stacy's Mom," its current radio hit, that the audience got to its feet.