Matchbox Twenty Give Fans A Brief History Of Everything With Counting Crows In Phoenix

Matchbox Twenty front man Rob Thomas performs at Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix, Ariz. August 2, 2017.(Photo: Michael Chow/The Republic)

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After joking about the dry heat on a very humid night in Phoenix, Rob Thomas took a moment, four songs into Wednesday's set, to thank the fans for making all this possible two decades down the road from Matchbox Twenty's mainstream breakthrough, "Yourself or Someone Like You."

"We're celebrating 20 years since our first record," Thomas told fans who had gathered at Ak-Chin Pavilion. "And you're here because you guys have been really good to us for 20 years. You keep coming back and it means everything to us."

Released in 1996, "Yourself or Someone Like You" was among the biggest-selling rock releases of the post-Nirvana '90s (and the past 21 years), a 12-times platinum calling card that spun off several of their most beloved hits, including "Push," with which they closed the set, and "3 A.M.," the perfect introduction to their three-song encore.

They opened with "Real World," the opening song on that career-defining first release. And by the time they followed "3 A.M." with "Long Day" in the encore, they'd treated the fans to no fewer than eight songs from that 12-song album.

That still left plenty of time in a generous 21-song set to live up to the promise of the tour name — A Brief History of Everything — from "Bent," their first and only song to top the Billboard Hot 100, to "She's So Mean," the first single released from their most recent effort, "North," which hit the streets in late 2012.

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Matchbox Twenty front man Rob Thomas gestures for fans to stand during a performance at Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix, Ariz. August 2, 2017. (Photo: Michael Chow/The Republic)

The fans were on their feet for nearly the entire set, singing along to the radio-friendly hooks that served as a reminder of how Matchbox Twenty managed to seduce the masses in the first place. This is music built to resonate.

And if anything, the fact that "She's So Mean" lost steam at No. 40 on the Hot 100 (despite being among more contagious moments of their set) may tell you more about pop radio and its strained relationship with guitar rock than it does about the hit potential of their recent work. 

It was a well-paced performance, front-loaded with riff-heavy rockers as Thomas appeared to be channeling a young Mick Jagger with some of his loopier stage moves.

By the time they dusted off the acoustic guitars for the mellower sounds of "If You're Gone" and "Hand Me Down," they did so without sacrificing the momentum they'd built with those opening songs.

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Matchbox Twenty brought the 'A Brief History of Everything' Tour to Ak-Chin Pavillion in Phoenix, August 2, 2017. Photos by Michael Chow/The Republic Wochit

They returned to the rock with a spirited "How Far We've Come," the audience shouting along with the chorus hook, "Let's see how far we've come," following through with such crowd-pleasing highlights as "Mad Season," "So Sad So Lonely" and "English Town."

Then, Thomas asked the fans to get their cellphones out, explaining that "the cellphone is the lighter of the new millennium" and "just 'cause it looks really f--king pretty for us" before leading his bandmates in the tender ballad "Hang," which may have been the understated emotional highlight of their set.

"Unwell" turned into a spirited call-and-response with the audience and they brought the set to a rousing finish with "Back 2 Good" and "Push," returning for a three-song encore that started with Thomas' most inspired vocal of the night on "3 A.M." and ended with the singer seated at a grand piano for "Bright Lights."

This is a co-headlining tour with Counting Crows, who made it through their own Brief History of Everything without their most successful single, "Mr. Jones." They played it at the two shows leading up to Phoenix, but the trick to loving "Mr. Jones," as frontman Adam Duritz told me when we spoke last year, is never feeling like he has to play it.

RELATED: Rob Thomas isn't nostalgic for the 90's

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Counting Crows and front man Adam Duritz performs at Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix, Ariz. August 2, 2017. (Photo: Michael Chow/The Republic)

There was no questioning Duritz' passionate commitment as he led his bandmates in highlights as emotionally charged as "Colorblind" and an epic performance of "Round Here," the other big single from "August and Everything After," which built to a crowd-pleasing climax with a freewheeling spoken-word section from Duritz.

They stripped it down mid-set for an acoustic "When I Dream of Michelangelo" and the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil" (without mentioning the fact that Jerry Garcia would have turned 75 a day earlier).

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Counting Crows front man Adam Duritz performs at Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix, Ariz. August 2, 2017. (Photo: Michael Chow/The Republic)

And they followed "Round Here" with another of their best-known songs, "A Long December," which built to a dramatic finish, giving way to the raucous performance of "Hanginaround" that closed their proper set.

The encore started with "Palisades Park," the Springsteenesque epic that stood out as the highlight of 2014's "Somewhere Under Wonderland" and quickly took its place as the opening song of their encores. Duritz said last year that he thought it was the best thing they've ever done, and I would definitely put it on the shortlist.

They ended with "Rain King" from "August and Everything After," Durtiz introducing his bandmates and touring musicians with terms of endearment while clearly enjoying the moment and the tour and life itself. And if part of that enjoyment comes from not feeling forced to treat the fans to "Mr. Jones" night after night after night, is that so bad?

Matchbox Twenty setlist

Real World

Girl Like That

She's So Mean

Bent

Argue 

All I Need 

If You're Gone

Hand Me Down

How Far We've Come

Disease

All Your Reasons

Mad Season

So Sad So Lonely

English Town

Hang

Unwell

Back 2 Good

Push

Encore

3 A.M.

Long Day 

Bright Lights

Counting Crows setlist

Hard Candy

Omaha

Dislocation

Colorblind

Four White Stallions

I Wish I Was a Girl

Miami

When I Dream of Michelangelo

Friend of the Devil

Round Here

A Long December

Hanginaround

Encore

Palisades Park

Rain King

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Source : http://www.azcentral.com/story/entertainment/music/2017/08/03/matchbox-twenty-phoenix-counting-crows-concert-review/509539001/

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