Review: Matchbox Twenty light up Christchurch

Somewhere in a record company boardroom the suits are looking for a demographic with money to spend and not a lot of time to spend it. "Hey what about them 90's bands?" says one between puffs of cigar smoke. "That's money!" says another. "Crack the champagne!" High fives and belly laughs all round.

Okay, maybe not. These days they probably get AI to figure these things out. Either way. Wolfbrook Arena was sold out for Thursday night's GooGoo Dolls and Matchbox Twenty show.

The GooGoo Dolls' opening riff to acoustic rock anthem 'Slide' hit the crowd right in the memories and they were up on their feet. Frontman John Rzeznik said "I'm gonna speak real slow cos I have a funny accent" before "let's have a good time!" And a good time we had. He and bassist Robby Takac never stood still for more than a second, pacing and bouncing through more classic tracks. It was infectious and everyone was into it. The band left the stage with John alone on an acoustic guitar.

"This was our first song on the radio. And I'm probably gonna ham it up!" And he did. But he stopped playing guitar and sang the opening verse of 'Name' acapella. You could've heard a pin drop. New track 'Run all Night', as well as older tunes 'Bringing On The Light', 'Better Days' and 'Broadway' were fantastic. The closer, 'Iris', absolutely brought the house down, with phone lights lit up like stars.

Matchbox Twenty walked out and the crowd went mental. Opening tracks 'Friends', 'How Far We've Come' and 'Real World' were note perfect. "How we doing Christchurch?!" asked frontman Rob Thomas mid-song, dancing and conducting the crowd on their turn to sing.

The crowd booed when Thomas confessed it had been "30 years we've never been here", before promising that "the next two hours it's just you and us, giving and receiving good vibes". With the crowd eating it up they pulled out 'Disease' and 'Wild Dogs' before piling into 'She's So Mean', 'All I Need' and then ballads 'Hand Me Down' and 'If You're Gone' stripped back to guitar and vocals.

Like GGD's Rzeznik, Rob Thomas' iconic voice was in fine form. 'Mad Season' and other songs were grand and the band were superb throughout, showmanship high, swinging guitars and mic stands around. Thomas' ability to work a crowd is first class and it was magic to watch him make fun of the encore process. "Pretend like you're not sure if we're coming back!"

When they did, Thomas was sporting an All Blacks jumper with his name and number 14 on the back. Perhaps the ABs could use a singer winger? Big hits '3am', 'Unwell' and 'Push' capped an epic show.

Matchbox 20 play Taranaki's Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth on Saturday, March 2.

-By Christchurch reviewer Dan Buchanan