John Rzeznik, the front man for the Goo Goo Dolls, came out alone on Wednesday night at The Egg’s sold-out Hart Theater, sat on a stool with his acoustic guitar and started talking.
“I wrote a lot of songs about women and regrets. As I got older, I wrote more about regrets. … Now I realize that life is a string of amazing moments, with regrets.”
He sang “Sympathy,” then sang “Two Days in February.” Robby Takac, the other Goo Goo Dolls original, came out halfway through the next song, sat in the other stool on the stage to strum an acoustic guitar. By the next song a full band came out to bring the sound to full force — drumset, keyboards, three acoustic guitars, but, interestingly, no bass.
Rzeznik talked a lot through the show. At first, screaming women disrupted him at every sentence, but by the fourth story he had the floor to himself.
He complained for a while about his treatment on social media before singing “Slide,” which he said was on a list as “the darkest song of the ’90s.”
He told us about growing up in Buffalo, and witnessing the demise of its industry. He talked about his “tough, Polish, working-class” neighborhood on the east side of the city, which he captured in the song “Broadway” later in the show.
He was admirably comfortable conversing — “We’ve been friends for a long time,” he said at one point to the audience, noting that their first song was on the radio 20 years ago.
Takac spoke only two or three times, his first time introducing “Already There,” which he sang, before Rzeznik took back center stage.
Rzeznik brought out the opening band “Run River North” to sing back-up for most of the show, starting with “We Are the Normal.”
Before singing “Name,” he told us it was their first song on the radio and they were “pummeled by the critics for selling out … well those guys [the critics] are unemployed now and I’m still working.”
“I wrote this song for my wife,” he said of “Come to Me.” He said she was in the audience.
At this point he stopped telling stories between songs and ran through several tunes: “Rebel Beat,” “Can’t Let it Go,” “Think About Me,” then “Better Days.”
They played a few from their latest record, “Magnetic,” starting with “Bringing on the Light,” which Takac sang. Still light pop, it had a deeper feel from the series of tunes they just finished.
Goo Goo Dolls have a lot of good pop songs — smooth, foot-tapping, familiar sing-alongs. The sound was right-on — they never over-played, never yelled, never pushed the song beyond what it was meant to be.
COMING TO SPAC
This summer they’ll play at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, where they’ll have to deliver the same general set, but with more drama, and far less intimacy. Yes, they can fill larger venues than The Egg, but after hearing them Wednesday night playing with the control and sound mix that their songs warrant and The Egg provides, Wednesday night’s audience should feel lucky.
Run River North opened the show, a young group of six from Los Angeles who played a wonderful set of simple tunes led by soft vocal harmonies.
The songs eventually expanded into excited crescendos through raised volume and violins.
Perhaps predictable, it was very good and the audience received them well, a level or two more than mere etiquette. Their sound appears old — Simon & Garfunkel-like — but simultaneously came off with a current hipness.
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