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The World of Goo Boards Review: Goo Goo Dolls groove at Jones Beach

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Review: Goo Goo Dolls groove at Jones Beach
« on: Jul 23rd, 2007, 7:59am »
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Review: Goo Goo Dolls groove at Jones Beach
Special to Newsday
July 22, 2007, 10:44 PM EDT
When the Goo Goo Dolls started making records in the late 1980s, they were a loud power-pop band with a punky edge. Then in the mid-'90s, they hit on a new concept -- sensitive ballads oriented around acoustic rather than electric guitars -- and the result was blockbuster success.
Judging by some comments frontman Johnny Rzeznik made from the Jones Beach stage during its Saturday night concert, the group still feels uncomfortable about that turn of events.
Before launching into "Name," the 1995 single that was both the Goo Goos' first exploration of their lighter side and their first megahit, Rzeznik said, "This next song opened a lot of doors for us. It closed a few others behind us too, but hey, what can you do?"
More than a decade has passed since this crucial juncture in the band's history, so you'd think Rzeznik and his mates would have gotten less touchy about it over time. Not a chance. Clearly even at this late date, they need to keep proving to their critics and old fans -- and maybe to themselves, too -- that no, they didn't actually get soft and sell out.
And so they played one long puzzling non sequitur of a show, veering between faithful renditions of the hit singles everyone came to hear and frantic attempts to rock hard. Several of the latter were helmed by bassist Robby Takac, the Hyde to Rzeznik's Jekyll.
Rzeznik is ruggedly handsome, while Takac is so unkempt you could easily mistake him for a homeless man. Rzeznik's voice is smooth and powerful, while Takac's is pinched and unpleasant. And where Rzeznik works the crowd with an easy flair, Takac puts out so much excess energy that it's comical, almost a parody of a rock musician.
Going from the Rzeznik ballad "Become" to the Takac rocker "Tucked Away" was a strangely schizophrenic experience, like putting Bryan Adams on the same stage with Kiss.
Toward the end of the night, the Goo Goos finally got into a consistent groove with songs such as "Let Love In," "Acoustic #3," "Broadway" and their biggest hit, 1998's "Iris." Perhaps not coincidentally, Rzeznik took the lead on every one.
But the show's most lasting impressions weren't especially positive. The Goo Goo Dolls, it seems, are suffering from a lack of solidarity, and they're doing what they think they should be doing instead of focusing on what they actually might want to do.
The Goo Goos' opening act, Lifehouse, doesn't have any such problems. Leader Jason Wade's compositions may not be the most original or exciting songs around, but he and his band are completely committed to them, and it shows. Their 2000 breakout single "Hanging by a Moment," still is their finest work, but the rest were played with just as much fire, making for a surprisingly enjoyable performance.
Colbie Caillat started the evening with a brief set of Sade-via-Savage-Garden soft rock, showing some promise but not much star quality.
GOO GOO DOLLS. Twenty years after their first album, Johnny Rzeznik and company continue to struggle with an acute identity crisis. Seen Saturday at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.  
http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/ny-etgoogoo0723,0,5018712.story?col l=ny-entertainment-headlines
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