Matchbox Twenty, Goo Goo Dolls keep crowd pumped with mix of new and classic

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Matchbox Twenty and the Goo Goo Dolls are back on tour, both promoting new albums, to prove their longevity and relevance. The 1990s pop-rock bands performed at First Niagara Pavilion on Saturday and although marketed as co-headliners, it became clear that the Goo Goo Dolls just started the show — and Matchbox Twenty ended it.

After the sun faded, an introductory video hit the screens. The energy was palpable. The quartet from Orlando, Fla., opened with "Parade" from its 2012 album "North," which was released after a 10-year hiatus.

Lead singer-songwriter Rob Thomas, whose voice sounds as good live as it does on the radio, danced around the stage and engaged the audience. At one point he stopped and said: "How [expletive] good are the Goo Goo Dolls?!"

"This is one of our favorite places in the world to play," he said. "... When it's all said and done I want us to walk out of here and feel like we celebrated life in Pittsburgh."

Guitarists Kyle Cook and Paul Doucette added to the onstage liveliness with energetic guitar solos and singing. Mr. Doucette, a North Huntingdon native, displayed his versatility on stage by lending his talents to guitar, rhythm drums and piano. He pleased his hometown crowd with a lengthy and well-executed guitar solo during "Disease."

New tunes from "North" including "She's So Mean," "I Will," "Radio," "English Town" and "The Way" were all greeted like old hits.

The band balanced the show with well-known fan favorites including "How Far We've Come," "3 A.M.," "Unwell," "Bright Lights," "If You're Gone," "Bent" and "So Sad So Lonely."

Three large cubic video screens hung above the stage and accompanied the at-times-overwhelming light show.

"We're gonna keep it back in 1996 for the next couple of songs," said Mr. Thomas before singing songs ??-- "Real World" and "Damn" -- from Matchbox Twenty's 1996 debut album "Yourself or Someone Like You."

The encore found the band back for "Back 2 Good," "Our Song," a cover of The Rolling Stones' jam "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Push."

The Goo Goo Dolls started the show with "Last Hot Night" from its 10th studio album "Magnetic," which was released in June. New tunes "Come to Me" and "Bringing On the Light" were mixed into the setlist. And the audience actually appeared to know the words to the album's first single "Rebel Beat."

But it didn't take long for the band from Buffalo, N.Y., to dip into the well-known and crowd-pleasing greatest hits list that included "Slide," "Here Is Gone," "Let Love In," "Better Days," "Stay With You" and, of course, "Iris."

At one point, the trio — frontman John Rzeznik, bass guitarist Robby Takac and drummer Mike Malinin — paused while black balloons appeared and floated around the stage. Shortly after, Mr. Rzeznik sang the familiar lyrics: "Baby's black balloon makes her fly / I almost fell into that hole in your life."

Korel Tunador, Pittsburgh native and regular touring member of the Goo Goo Dolls, displayed strong musical skills during his saxophone solo on "Broadway."

Before singing "Name," Mr. Rzeznik said: "This next song's the first song we ever got played on the radio. You know you've made it when you're on at the super markets. I wanna thank you guys for giving us a good long life."

"One Woman Army" singer Kate Earl was the first to hit the stage. The native of Anchorage, Alaska played a short set as the crowd began to pack up tailgates and trickle into the pavilion.

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Katie Foglia: kfoglia@post-gazette.com or 412-263-4903.


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