Goo Goo Dolls deliver solid performance / review
« on: Mar 11th, 2007, 9:43am »
Goo Goo Dolls deliver solid performance
By TOM CONWAY
The key to understanding and appreciating the music of the Goo Goo Dolls is to forget that they ever were a punk rock band.
It isn’t easy to put out of your mind, because with a name like Goo Goo Dolls, you expect their music to be quirky and maybe a little bit edgy. But, with the sticky, sweet music the band played Saturday night to a sold out crowd at the Morris Performing Arts Center, a better name for the band might be Goo Goo Clusters.
Rather than judge the band for what they are not, it is better to take them for what they are now, which is a pop-rock group. But, in this case, it is rock music as defined by the likes of the producers of “American Idol.” It is rock music designed not to offend. It is music calculated to reach across all age groups.
That being said, the band thrilled the mostly female audience, who stayed on their feet for the entire concert. There were squeals of delight when singer/guitarist Johnny Rzeznik played the opening notes of hits like “Slide,” “Name,” and “Iris” on his acoustic guitar. The audience sang along with the band, swaying with their cell phones held in the air, far outnumbering the traditional rock concert staple of yesteryear, the cigarette lighter.
Rzeznik and elfin bassist Robby Takac have an intimate rapport with their fans, and are capable of bringing a roar of delight with just a wave, a hair flip, or a random shout of “Hey.” While the show could sometimes seem overly coordinated and choreographed, Rzeznik demonstrated some spontaneity a couple of times during the concert. During one song, he spotted an audience member talking on her cell phone and grabbed it from her and sang part of the song into the phone. At another point, he stopped performing the song, “Name” to lift his pant leg to reveal that he was wearing knee-high socks.
Takac is the loose cannon of the band. His manic stage energy sometimes made the Dolls songs seem like they rocked harder than they did. His cigarette-ravaged Munchkin lead vocals on “January Friend,” “Tucked Away,” and “Smash” work precisely because they don’t belong alongside Rzeznik’s anthems and ballads, giving a punky, spastic jolt to the concert.
It is a testimony to the band’s staying power that they featured almost three-quarters of their latest album, “Let Love In,” and maintained a steady level of excitement from the audience throughout. For most bands still playing after two decades, as the Dolls are, the music from the new album is to be tolerated between the hits. But, new songs, “Stay With You,” “Better Days,” and show closer, “Give A Little Bit,” (How much more anti-punk can you get than doing a cover version of a Supertramp song?) received as strong of a reaction from the crowd as their Nineties hits.
Credit must be given to the Goo Goo Dolls, too, because as one of the first alternative bands to hit the mainstream, they paved the way for bands like the opening band, Augustana, to find an audience. The young five-piece group seemed to gain as many new fans during their performance as they had before they took the stage, which is significant judging by the shouts for their hit single, “Boston,” throughout their set.
Augustana singer Dan Layus has a tortured, world-weary voice that makes the “love-gone-wrong” songs from the band’s debut album, “All the Stars and Boulevards,” seem very real and heartbreaking. The band has a sound reminiscent of Counting Crows, with a little bit of Coldplay thrown in.
Layus shushed the audience – and the girl he is singing to in the song – during “Boston,” and replacing the city of the song’s title, he sang that he wants to go to “South Bend…where no one knows my name.” After their solid performance, that isn’t true anymore.