By Lisa Robinson
Photos courtesy: taleethersaurus / Live Nation
After 15 years of record making and touring, Matchbox Twenty returned to Australia for their sixth headlining show, this time joined by home grown icons INXS and the newly Melbourne based Evermore, it was a show not to be missed.
Kicking off their world tour in Australia for the first time in four years, fans welcomed the band with open arms. Heading into the arena, it was easy to see the diverse range of fans in attendance. Middle aged women with fan club t-shirts, couples young and old, children and even a few teenagers. With a Rob Thomas-crazy mother myself [who came with me], I was no stranger to a Matchbox Twenty show.
After a couple of hiccups we missed Evermore but got there just in time for the start of INXS. I was expecting to see old frontman J.D. Fortune, so was surprised to find out that he’d been replaced by Irish born Ciaran Gribbin. Having also seen INXS in the past fronted by Fortune, I found that Gribbin, despite an amazing voice, was a letdown in terms of captivating the crowd. Everyone was on their feet and having a ball, but it didn’t hold the same energy as I’d seen in the past.
Playing crowd favourites Need You Tonight and New Sensation, amongst a mixture of old and new songs, the hour long pre-show was the starter you always hope for. Closing with a dedication to Michael Hutchence, Gribbin did an exceptional job with Never Tear Us Apart.
As the curtain dropped revealing Matchbox Twenty, the crowd went wild as Rob Thomas was exhibited centre stage. Opening with a couple of songs from their new album, North, it was only seconds before everyone in the arena was on their feet.
“Melbourne, how you feelin’ baby?” were the first words Thomas uttered to the crowd, and it was enough to send both men and women into a frenzy. Always ensuring positivity at his shows, Thomas reminded the crowd that the show was about celebrating life, and not worrying about outside troubles.
Moving along to play some crowd favourites (certainly my favourites), Bent and 3am, Thomas’ age was showing as he was entirely dripping in sweat by the fifth song, latest single She’s So Mean. Needless to say, it didn’t impact the performance or his voice in the slightest as my mother continued to turn to me and say, “he still sounds exactly like the radio!”
Halfway through the show, many people once standing were beginning to take a seat, as I noticed the energy start to fizz. I felt that many people were forgetting how many solo hits Rob Thomas has had and expected the band to play them. I even found myself wondering, when are they going to play This Is How A Heart Breaks?
The fizz didn’t last long as before we knew it the Unwell intro began and everyone was once again bouncing with joy at their old favourite. A few songs later I looked to my right and the guitarist, Paul, was on the steps right by my seat. He played a verse standing there, then ran around the middle of the arena into the stands adding an element of surprise for everyone.
The encore was a bit of a let down, as they played three songs of which I only knew the final one, Push. Although it was the perfect song to end an always fantastic performance. As the band came together on stage and bowed, I smiled to myself thinking, “see you next time.”