Saturday, February 2, 2013
Concert review: Matchbox Twenty and Phillip Phillips play to sold-out Winstar crowd
Their radio-heavy singles took us back to the '90s.
The resurgence of '90s band reunion tours is overwhelming. Pop rockers Matchbox Twenty are the exception to the trend: Yes, they started out in the '90s and are currently on tour, but they have continued to release records and stay relevant since their big break. They’re also smart enough to bring out one of the hottest acts of the year as an opener — 2012 American Idol winner Phillip Phillips. With no tour dates in Dallas, it wasn't surprising that the 3,000+ seat Global Events Center at Winstar World Casino was sold out.
Sitting in a circle as intimate as your living room, Phillips and band zipped through a 20-minute set filled with folksy numbers colored with fantastic instrumentation. Not only is his voice as strong as it was on TV, his band gracefully shreds any stringed instrument they can get their hands on. With a voice and style like Dave Matthews, Phillips turned his set into more of a story than a performance, working the crowd as he dove into some tracks.
A stirring cover of Usher’s “Nice and Slow” revealed Phillips' seductive side, a mood usually lost in the folk world of acoustic guitars and banjos. The way he molded the R&B hit to fit into his own singer/songwriter box shows how long this humble boy from Georgia will be around.
Energetic and lighthearted, Matchbox Twenty started with a time-traveling mix of hits for the expectant crowd. Rousing, radio-heavy songs “She’s So Mean” and “How Far We’ve Come” proved pace and control are no issue to Rob Thomas: He kept up with the rapid-fire lines and breathless breaks as if he were still in 1996. That year, they released Yourself or Someone Like You, the album that catapulted the Florida rockers into the mainstream world. Fans were ready and waiting to sing along to those heavy-hitting hits, which came in a steady string in the first half.
Once the handful of electric chords from “3 AM” rang out, the room’s decibel shot up to stadium level. Thomas fueled the eccentric crowd by saying they would be staying in 1996 for a bit with “Real World” and “Long Day.” He also told the crowd that the first time the band heard their music on the radio (“Long Day” was the debut single) was in Dallas.
A simple stage setup with an LED screen and two small sets of stairs gave Thomas and guitarists Kyle Cook and Paul Doucette enough room to rotate around and avoid a stale stage presence. Both guitarists stuck to the original melodies and didn't bore us with lengthy solos. During “Bright Lights,” Thomas stepped away from center stage to accompany the slowed track with keys, which was one of the only hushed moments of the night. A four-song encore closed out the almost two-hour set, with the angst-driven track “Push” as a finale.
Catch the band on Sunday during the Super Bowl pregame show.