Hard Rock Live
April 26, 2014
Reviewed by Anthony Cave
All it took was two guitars, a piano, a back-up vocalist and Rob Thomas to coin the term “concert.” Except, I never got out of my seat once – and, neither did most of the audience.
But, it worked out okay.
Thomas, Matchbox Twenty’s lead singer, promised a cool “happy hour” of sorts before he started his two-hour acoustic set at the Hard Rock Saturday night. The mood was just that, as Thomas, a far cry away from the studio version of many of his mainstream hits, was smooth on the microphone with just the light playing of a guitar, or piano, in the background.
In between songs, he would share stories that almost made him seem like a comedian: a three-year old voicemail from Mick Jagger, pleasing his Puerto Rican wife and even thanking Lionel Richie, in-person, for some one-night conquests he had in his early 20s.
He started with “This Is How a Heart Breaks” before gradually fading into his solo hits like “Her Diamonds” and “Ever the Same.”
His 20-plus song set varied in moods and tones, swinging Thomas to all sides of the stage, providing for many smartphone camera shots.
One fan in the front row tilted her cell phone camera back towards the stage, selfie style, and Rob swooped in for the photo to everyone’s delight. Of course, many other fans tried to get Thomas in their selfie shortly after, but that would be the only one he would take that night.
Beyond the solo hits and band chart toppers, Thomas also sang a few covers, like Elton John’s “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” and Willie Nelson’s “Crazy.”
He did not take any breaks either. About halfway through his set, Thomas faked an intermission.
“We’re going to pretend like it already happened,” he said, before quickly diving into more hits.
The only somber note of the night was the story behind hit track “3 A.M,” which, as Thomas described, was an ode to his mother’s battle with cancer.
But, the emotion quickly picked up as Thomas dove into the guitar-friendly, Santana-fused smash hit, “Smooth.” He talked about his first encounter with the legendary guitarist and how he joked about Thomas’ Puerto Rican wife because of one verse in the song’s lyrics: “I would change my life to better suit your mood.”
After that, Thomas also dismissed the fake “encore” artists do and closed with a band favorite, “Bright Lights.”
Early in his set, Thomas said weekends are “about the Saturday nights that go into Sunday morning.” He did not quite get there, but his vocals certainly carried the Hard Rock crowd into a state of glee.
And, that was more than enough.