Produced by Live Nation, the Long Way Home tour with Goo Goo Dolls and special guest Phillip Phillips could easily have been called the awkward band name tour, but not nearly as awkward as the Goo’s original band name which was so transgressively tasteless that venues refused to put it up on the marquee. For guys who are very good songwriters they are very bad at coming up with band names. It didn’t keep them from going on to be a bankable hit machine in the 90’s and a staple of overly sincere film soundtracks.
The end of the Long Way Home tour as it winds through Texas has been chaotic with Harvey first seeming to delete their Houston appearance and 100 rain days in Dallas forcing a last minute change in venue from Irving’s new Music Factory to the much larger and older Starplex venue but the band took it in stride. The crowd looked scattered and forlorn under the Starplex canopy prompting Rzeznik to tell everyone back in the “cheap seats” to move forward at one point near the end of the set. “F___ that s___, we are all friends” he told the crowd which made security less than comfortable I am guessing.
Phillip Phillips, who won the 11th season of “American Idol” in 2012 opened the show with an impressive band complete with a rocking cello player and a compelling sound with a layer of Appalachian folk running through its surprisingly heavy at times rock sound. Their short set was well received.
“Back in the late 80’s we would come to Dallas and play places like Trees and we were cool indie rockers and then I wrote this song and we were suddenly uncool, but I am glad I f___ed it up because because we got this” frontman Rzeznik signals with outstretched arms to the adoring pop fans cheers. The audience seemed mostly comprised of fans of their 90’s radio hits and not moshing punk fans by any stretch.
For more images of the show go here
The band veered back and forth between the frenetic early punk trio’s songs and the later power pop ballads and rockers. The contrast of sneer and veneer is frequently confusing but their commitment to song-craft carries them through, along with a down to earth connection to their audience that is genuine and humble. They are a working class band that started in Buffalo, New York with childhood friends who loved American alternative and punk bands like the Replacements who they were frequently compared to.
The two remaining founders John Rzeznik and Robby Takac were spotlighted through the show but I would have preferred a more equal emphasis on the other players who were effectively tight in the group. Takacs barefoot antics and energy are endearing but also distracting at points. By all accounts he is a smart and savvy guy but his voice is thin live and the bouncing Sum41 style pogo-ing might be a hard sell in late career.
The hopelessly romantic “Come to Me” was a highlight for the couples in the crowd and “Name” and show closer “Iris” are perfect pop songs. This is really what they do well and they know it. They should embrace it because not many bands can make music with a high sheen like this that still sounds authentic. While they can sometimes be viewed as generic 90’s rock when listening to the hit singles, live they can push it into the realm of anthemic garage rock and power pop. The cool fall-like weather in Dallas added to the relaxed vibe of the show.
Harvey first responders were given vouchers for the Texas shows and all band merchandise sales went to help Harvey survivors. In addition, concertgoers who donate non-perishable items for the Houston Food Bank will receive a $20 ticket voucher for the concert that can be redeemed at the box office.
The Houston show was revived by the mayor at the last minute saying the city needs it to get back to normal. It will be the first concert at The Woodlands Pavilion since Hurricane Harvey made landfall Aug. 25