Though I’ve still to post some reviews regarding earlier gigs that I attended including the Mars Volta and PUSA, I thought that I’d quickly try and post a Matchbox 20 review while it was still fairly fresh in my mind.
Matchbox 20 have been around for quite a few years now, originally starting as Tabitha’s Secret and then gaining more members and becoming Matchbox 20 – releasing More Than You Think You Are, Yourself or Somebody Like You, Mad Season and Exile On Mainstream (but not necessarily in that order). As with some of these bands that come from the States with a fairly rock vibe, maybe with an acoustic kind of sound at one point or another, they never really seem to get too popular over here! You never really hear much radioplay from them, even though they’ve just had a new album out with some pretty solid singles, you just don’t hear much. Maybe the British crowd doesn’t do this kind of music or it could be some kind of niche. I don’t know, but whatever, I was surprised they were doing a stadium tour here. They had played Wembley a few nights before coming to Glasgow, and well that’s a pretty big arena (though I read somewhere that they might be better in a smaller place) so they obviously must have some following over here. I was fairly close to the front for the whole gig (standing in the second row) and got a pretty good view of everything except the size of the crowd. There were a lot of people there, I could hear them for the most part, but I just couldn’t see how far back the dense crowds went (I swear the SECC floor isn’t completely flat!), so my opinions of popularity at this concert will have to be withheld temporarily.
Anyway, back to the music and so on. The support band were a 5 piece rock (and apparently indie) group from Nottingham called Headway. Their music reminded me quite a lot of Snow Patrol to be honest, and in their second song I could totally hear some Radiohead influences too. Not a particularly indie sound though, but I think that’s probably a good thing! They had long curly hair and wore tight jeans (NB – the lead singer/guitarist exhibited jeans with a level of tightness that I had never before seen! Go him!) – so were definitely keeping up with the Indie front there! They played a fairly short set – maybe 30/40 mins or so, and overall I thought it was pretty enjoyable – they didn’t get too good a reception at first, but the crowd got going by the third song or so and they seemed to enjoy themselves from then onwards. As I learnt, from both being told by the frontman of Headway, and through being given a flyer, they do have an EP out on iTunes and on Myspace, which I might go check out if I get a chance…
After a half hour wait or so while the roadies cleared the stage and set up all of the new stuff, Matchbox 20 came on! They had some interesting dialog being played overhead as they came in, with the huge video screens behind them showing a chair and then a door (not too sure of any significance there), the members of the band ran on to the stage (minus Rob Thomas at this point (of course)) and started playing their newest single ‘How Far We’ve Come’. Rob Thomas did eventually join the rest of the band onstage to start the song, and it was a good start at that! Throughout the night, they played a barrage of their famous songs mixed in with some of their not so famous ones, with the majority of songs coming from their two recent (proper albums), More Than You Think You Are and Mad Season (I don’t think Exile On Mainstream should really be counted as an album as it contains at most 6 new songs and then some other of their ‘best of’ from previous albums – it should really just be an EP with a few bonus cuts on it!). Thinking about it – they probably played most of the songs on the Exile On Mainstream album, as the tour was called Exile In The UK, so doing such a thing would make sense, but as I haven’t bothered listening to the old songs on Exile, I’m not sure. They did play a nice selection of hits though, including 3am (one of the original Tabitha’s Secret songs), Unwell, Bright Lights and Rest Stop. If they could have played any more, then I would have hoped for Mad Season and
Bent The Burn (both from Mad Season coincidentally), but otherwise I enjoyed it.
Correction: They did sing Bent last night, the song that I wanted to hear was The Burn! Oops!
There were a few things I did note while at the concert, which I really think I should add instead of writing a song by song commentary of the concert (which I imagine anyone could do (even if they weren’t there!). Anyway, firstly, some of them were wearing pretty silly jackets and heavy coats at the start of the concert. I just thought it was worth mentioning as it begs the question, why? It’s not as if Scotland was that cold yesterday, and they were inside anyway. But then again if it was part of the stage presence/routine kind of thing, they why weren’t all of the band wearing them? The bassist, the drummer and the keyboardist/backup guitarist didn’t look like they were complying completely, so I’m not really sure what was going on there! Secondly, Rob Thomas sweats ALOT! Dude, this guy was sweating before he even came out on to the stage I imagine – and he was wearing a jacket! When he took off the jacket originally, I thought, ‘oh, that’s an interesting t shirt pattern he’s got there’, I then realised that it was just sweat! Wow! I don’t mind or anything – it’s just I was surprised – he went through a t shirt pretty quickly there. But at the end of the day he sang pretty damn well, so it didn’t really matter if he was
Third point. No offense to Paul or anything, but I’m sure he made himself redundant in some songs by changing from Drums to guitar. He tries to look busy with his oversized Gibson/Epiphone hollow body monstrosity, but I’m not sure that taking him out of the song would make too much difference. In some places he was singing, and playing piano (which was mixed up waaay too much may I add) which was great, but in other places, I think he was just playing/holding a guitar for the sake of it. His official role now is rythym guitarist, so one could argue that he’s doing what he should be, but I think he could slip in the odd solo now and then, maybe even trade solos with Kyle Cook? That’s if he can play more than just chords… He also had a habit of running across the stage from one side to another, strumming away, which just occured to me as being pretty odd and unnecessary (if he was soloing then it would have been more than okay), and oh, last thing, he could have removed his jacket – everyone else had done so by the end – or maybe he really was cold!
Fourth point. The crowd there were surprisingly varied. They attracted an odd group of people, old and young alike, which while was not surprising, was intriguing!
Fifth point. Though the roadies may suck, don’t give them a hard time about it! Yeah, we were told not to mention this, but the organ stopped working at some point into the gig. At first they did a pretty good job, with Rob freestyling some lyrics, but they had to just go back to it at the end! Must have been some cable unplugged somewhere, but that’s not good at the best of times. They also had this whole wireless chat going on, with everyone using wireless mikes and guitars… This inevitably made it easier to change instruments and also to walk about – which they did do a fair amount – it led to quite a few situations where they were about to start a song and one of the guitars didn’t work (not a coincidence or anything, but it was always Doucette’s that it seemed to happen to – I think they’re telling him something!). At times I felt a bit bad for the roadies and techies as the band were giving them shit at points when their stuff wasn’t working, but then again, if the roadies and techies are paid to make it all work, then surely it should be okay to get angry at them if it doesn’t, so fair enough that they were given some stick!
Sixth point. I’m not sure at what point this happened in Matchbox 20’s lifespan, probably around the time when Rob Thomas went off to do his solo album and Smooth for Santana, but at times it felt like it was ‘Rob Thomas and band’ as opposed to Matchbox 20. He always seemed to be the main focus of the group (except from Kyle Cook occasionally) and they could have just have easily been a backing band, which is rather sad, seeing as Matchbox 20 spawned all of their careers, so it would be nasty for him to just take over and become the more important figure!
Overall though, despite mentioning a few qualms and things about the gig, I really enjoyed myself, and enjoyed the songs that they played! In the future I would prefer if they played a smaller venue, but they did well in the SECC.
Oh, and photos to follow! Photos have now been added!