“We don’t get to play in a beautiful place like this every day,” Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik told the crowd at The Eccles last night. “But tonight,” he said, “We’re royalty.” And as the band tore through song after song, 22 in total, it was hard to disagree.
It’s a tough gig for bands like The Goo Goo Dolls—their name recognition is based mostly on several Top 40 hits two decades ago but they tour regularly and are still putting out new music. But they masterfully pulled together a setlist full of crowd favorites (“Slide,” “Black Balloon,” “Iris”) with songs from their new album (“The Pin,” “Over and Over”) and even some songs some from their earlier punkier days—many with a surprising and pleasant The Replacements feel—(“So Far Away,” “Already There”).
For a band that tours a lot, there was boundless energy on the stage. Rzeznik seemed to have a limitless supply of guitars that were switched out after nearly every song and his self-effacing humor combined with a sly smirk charmed even the cynics in the crowd quickly. Bassist Robby Takac acted as the band’s one-man pep squad, smiling broadly, skipping around the stage and leading the crowd in hand-clapping and other group activities. At one point in the show, Takac was rewarded for his work, fittingly with a Utes Jersey—and seemed delighted when the most of theater (apparently there were some BYU fans in attendance), in unison, made the U with their hands.
In a highlight of the night, before the band played “January Friend,” Rzeznik asked to have the house lights turned on. “I know there’s one guy who got dragged here by his wife, his girlfriend or his boyfriend,” the lead singer said and after finding a gentleman in the crowd who copped to his reluctance to be there Rzeznik continued. “Brother, I understand that you’re a good man to make your wife happy. I wish we could play ‘Freebird’ or blow some shit up. I understand, man.” There was a pregnant pause before the punchline, “Because my wife made me sit through a whole Maroon 5 concert.”
And it’s true that at first glance, one might paint The Goo Goo Dolls and Maroon 5 with the same dismissive pop music brush. But, The Goo Goo Dolls proved last night that they are a genuine rock and roll band who was lucky enough to strike pop gold a couple of times. Who can fault a couple of down-to-earth guys from Buffalo, New York for that?