27 years on, modern rockers Matchbox Twenty still rouse the crowds

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27 years on, modern rockers Matchbox Twenty still rouse the crowds

matchbox twenty
Photo: Dante Griffith
Siobhan Cotchin
Photo: Dante Griffith
goo goo dolls
Photo: Dante Griffith
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words by Dante Griffith and Melody O'Shea

On a mild Summer’s night, while half of Melbourne sat next door at the MCG for Tay Tay, a die-hard bastion of Gen-X and Millennial fans trooped into the Rod Laver Arena to watch Matchbox Twenty perform an unforgettable set.

It’s worth mentioning that the band’s pulling power has never waned as they walked onstage to a sold-out arena. The sheer preponderance of T-shirts from previous tours only added to the sense that this band enjoys an incredibly loyal fan base.

After 11 years in absentia, Matchbox Twenty finally returned to Melbourne, Australia. The energy of anticipation was palpable walking into the area, and the large stage setting was surprisingly intimate for the night’s opening act, Siobhan Cotchin.

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Cotchin managed to fill the stage with an emotive and emphatic performance, and a stage presence I hear nearby punters describe as ‘bewitching.’ Cotchin’s stagecraft was slick and classy and she easily engaged the audience, connecting in a close, confiding manner reminiscent of the performer drawing in the masses next door.

Cotchin rounded out the set by performing her new single Too Good To Be True, released just the day before this performance. The tune was emotive and charged and the clean and true audio mix only highlighted this young performer’s musical chops.

20 minutes later, the friendly, chatty crowd were chanting for the Goo Goo Dolls from the moment the lights cut momentarily. The Goo Goo’s came charging out of the gate and played a rollicking and effortless set that was impressively tight, with lots of fun banter from lead singer and guitarist John Rzeznik.

At one point Rzeznik even thanked Australia for the gift of Margot Robbie. The Goo Goo Dolls wrapped up with their biggest track Iris, and it was clear that this track remains a stand-out favourite with their legion of fans. 

Punctual to the minute, Matchbox Twenty strummed their first chord at 9pm sharp, mixing up the set list with an old classic turned Barbie anthem Push to their newest track Don’t Get Me Wrong. There was a sense that the fans had their clear favourites, and in fact, the level of chatter throughout less popular numbers was telling.

Halfway through the show Rob Thomas (lead vocalist) and Kyle Cook (lead guitarist) slowed the show down to perform a raw, acoustic version of the song If You’re Gone. This sombre track had a sparkle that their more strident numbers lacked and the audience was vocal in their appreciation. 

Staging was fairly stock standard and while the visuals had moments of brilliance, there were times the mediocre visuals on the vast screen seemed to leave the band floundering in a wash of colour that failed to hone in on each musician and the band as a whole.

Overall Matchbox Twenty’s performance at Rod Laver Arena was everything you’d expect from mom-rock veterans. A still-energetic band with musical chops aplenty offered a memorable night for the many raucous fans still loyal after 27 years. 

To grab tickets to the remaining shows, head here