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Shannon
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GGDs no fun - Winnipeg Sun review
« on: Feb 24th, 2011, 3:06pm »
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Goo Goo Dolls no fun
 
By DARRYL STERDAN, Winnipeg Sun
 
Wednesday, Feb. 23, Pantages Playhouse Theatre
 
With Hope Atlantic
 
Sun Rating: 3 out of 5
 
We all have to grow up sometime. Unfortunately.
 
For Goo Goo Dolls frontman Johnny Rzeznik, the turning point came in the mid-’90s, when he wrote the band’s first big hit Name.
 
“I had decided that if I couldn’t pay my bills with music that I was gonna go back to school and be a bartender or something,” the 45-year-old singer-guitarist explained to 1,200 fans at Pantages Playhouse Theatre on Wednesday night. “One day out of the sky, this song fell into my lap and made my decision for me — though I know a lot of you are probably thinking, ‘You shoulda gone back to school, Rzeznik.’ ”
 
I can’t speak for anybody else, but that’s not what I was thinking. I don’t want Rzeznik to go back to school. I want him (and the rest of the band) to go back to rocking.
 
It seems hard to believe now, but once upon a time, the Googs were a scrappy little indie-rock trio from Buffalo. They toured with punk bands and bashed away in local bars like the Pyramid (back when it was the Spectrum). When I interviewed Rzeznik recently, he fondly recalled one Winnipeg show when they shared the stage (and the rooms upstairs) with a crew of strippers (“Rock musicians and strippers; what could be better?” he laughed. “It’s like peanut butter and jelly”).
 
Sadly, those days are gone. Somewhere along the trail of pop hits, major-label albums and endless tours, Rzeznik and co. grew up. Trouble is, it also seems they’ve grown old.
 
The band’s latest stop in the city, part of their cross-Canada tour behind last year’s Something For the Rest of Us album, left something to be desired. Like, for instance, enthusiasm. Excitement. Energy. Granted, it was only a Wednesday night gig in wintry Winnipeg. Not exactly a career highlight. And according to reports, Rzeznik has been battling a cold for the past several days. Even so, the group’s 75-minute set was one of those shows that started off OK, but then ran out of gas. Some of it was their fault. Some of it wasn’t. Either way, it just wasn’t their night.
 
They opened up with Sweetest Lie, the leadoff single from Something. Bathed in red light, Rzeznik — casually dressed in dark V-neck shirt, cargo pants and sneakers — struck the pose he would maintain for most of the night, standing still in front of the mic with his feet spread. To his credit, his cold didn’t seem to play too much havoc with his throat. He might have been a little raspier than usual, and there were a few times when he seemed to reach for a high note, but the vocals (and the high harmonies from his bandmates) here were spot-on.
 
“Am I in Winnipeg or am I not?” he asked. Apparently satisfied he was indeed where he was supposed to be, he launched into the funkier Slide and the crunchy rocker Dizzy from 1998’s Dizzy Up the Girl. The former got a smattering of fans singing along and brought the crowd to its feet. Pity the Dolls couldn’t keep them there. In what was to become a recurring theme, every time they gained some momentum, they squandered it by tossing in a ballad. This time it was the dreamy Here is Gone, a Gutterflower cut full of chiming guitars and accompanied by swirly lights that played on their faux crushed-velvet backdrop.
 
Bassist Robby Takac — the only other original Doll — did his best to rekindle the fire by taking over the mic for some ramshackle rockers that briefly recalled their Replacements-inspired past. If Rzeznik is the Goo Goos gooey soul, Takac possesses whatever remains of their rock ’n’ roll heart. Dressed in black like a punk band refugee, his stage presence — while hardly adrenalized — supplied the proceedings with what little spark there was. Sadly, by the time he turned the mic back to Rzeznik, everyone but a knot of fans near the front was chairbound again.
 
“No, no, don’t get up, don’t get up,” gently chided Rzeznik, who clearly couldn’t catch a break: Moments later, he ended up being buttonholed by one insistent admirer. At first, he dubbed her “officially my favourite person here tonight.” As the evening wore on and she kept badgering him, however, he lived to eat those words. “We’ll have a question and answer period after the show, you and I,” he eventually said, displaying supreme patience. “We’ll talk about this later, OK? Don’t embarrass me at work.”
 
And so it went for the poor guys. They’d play a favourite — like the anthemic Black Balloon, say — and the crowd would come to its feet. Then they’d pull out a ballad like Better Days, everyone would flop back, and they’d start the process again. At one point, people sat when Takac announced they were going to play a new song. That’s never a good sign.
 
Of course, the band — rounded out by solid but slightly sluggish drummer Mike Malinin and a couple of touring guitar and keyboard players — didn’t help themselves much. Sure, their playing was solid if unspectacular. But when Rzeznik wasn’t standing still in front of the mic, he casually sauntered around the stage, letting the hired guns play most of the solos. Even Takac seldom moved fast enough to break a sweat. Neither they nor the music ever seemed to get out of second gear. Nor did it seem like they were trying to.
 
Even their light show seemed to be working against them at times. Along with the usual programmed effects, they lamps on top of their amps, pointing forward into the crowd. I don’t know why bands do that. Maybe they think it looks cool. Maybe it’s an in-joke. Maybe it’s payback. Whatever; ultimately it’s just annoying.
 
Eventually, Name and Iris managed to get everybody standing long enough for the band to head offstage with some dignity before returning 30 seconds later for the fake encore of Notbroken and Broadway. The former kicked into a welcome bit of Who-style rock bombast near the end, while the latter was a decently chunky rocker — until the keyboard player delivered a sax solo. Like we needed that.
 
So, in a nutshell: Bad health, bad luck, bad choices. Yep. Sounds like life as a grownup to me. Better luck next time, Johnny.
 
darryl.sterdan@sunmedia.ca
 
Set List:
 
Sweetest Lie
 
Big Machine
 
Slide
 
Dizzy
 
Here is Gone
 
Smash
 
Another Second Time Around
 
Can't Let It Go
 
Black Balloon
 
Home
 
Better Days
 
Stay With You
 
Now I Hear
 
Tucked Away
 
Name
 
As I Am
 
Iris
 
Encore:
 
Notbroken
 
Broadway
 
http://www.winnipegsun.com/entertainment/music/2011/02/24/17387621.html
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Re: GGDs no fun - Winnipeg Sun review
« Reply #1 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 8:33pm »
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I was not happy after reading this review. I have angst toward the journalist.
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Re: GGDs no fun - Winnipeg Sun review
« Reply #2 on: Feb 25th, 2011, 3:49pm »
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Me too. The journalist is clearly not a fan. I'm thinking he should cut them all some slack especially since John was sick. He mentions John having a cold. I'm pretty sure John himself said he had pneumonia. Pretty big difference. It's going to have an effect. He was sick in Windsor too and I still thought the show & performance was great. I can't even imagine getting out there and performing being sick like that. A lot of bands would've canceled the show. But the Goos keep on keeping on. Great work ethic.
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