Matchbox Twenty, Counting Crows light up Reno

Tahoe Onstage

Matchbox Twenty lights up the Grand Sierra Resort on Wednesday, July 26.
Tahoe Onstage images by Nick McCabe

Talk about an evening of flashbacks. This was an evening of multiple flashbacks of great music by two separate headlining bands who had their early success in the 1990s. Seldom will you get this kind of value in a concert. The music business is one that will chew you up and spit you out in five years. The fact that both of these bands are still pulling in huge crowds is a testament to their staying power and talent. The Grand Sierra Resort hosted a great evening and nearly filled the house. The shows rarely starts at showtime, but according to my chronometer this one started two minutes early. It was to be a long night that kicked off with Counting Crows.

Tahoe Onstage

Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz.

Counting Crows

Counting Crows started off strong with “Hard Candy”  from their 2002 album of the same name, and moved quickly through “Omaha and Dislocation.” Vocalist Adam Duritz is charismatic and talented as the lead singer and frontman. He is the only one of the band who stands out visually as a likely musician. Everybody else would blend in on the street.

Their second song of the evening, “Omaha,” featured some great accordion by Charlie Gillingham. Yes, rock and roll accordion. Not a polka. A notable highlight that pleased the crowd was an acoustic presentation of “Friend of The Devil” by The Grateful Dead. Later on, they rolled out a piano for Duritz to play while he sang “A Long December,” which went well. It was an absolutely fantastic performance. The song is about him spending most of December 1995 visiting his girlfriend in the hospital after she was run over by a car, while simultaneously working on their second album in the evenings.

The set ended with “Round Here,” another huge hit for Counting Crows, and their encore was “Palisades Park” and “Rain King.” They put on a great show. I couldn’t remember all they had done and was delighted with how many songs I remembered and enjoyed.

Tahoe Onstage

Charlie Gillingham squeezes notes for Counting Crows.

    Adam Duritz – vocals, piano
    Charlie Gillingham – keyboards, accordion
    Dan Vickrey – lead guitar
    David Immergluck – guitar, banjo, mandolin
    Jim Bogios – drums
    Millard Powers – bass
    David Bryson – guitar (not present)
    Hard Candy
    Mrs. Potters Lullaby
    When I Dream Of Michelangelo
    Friend of The Devil
    Goodnight Elisabeth
    Pale Blue Eyes
    Linger On
    A Long December
    Round Here
    Palisades Park
    Rain King
Tahoe Onstage

Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty.

Matchbox Twenty

The Brief History of Everything tour is the first time Matchbox Twenty has played together in four years. It is also its 20th anniversary as a band. It seems only appropriate that Matchbox Twenty tours on their 20th anniversary. It almost wasn’t possible, as guitarist Kyle Cook had decided not to play with the band anymore a little more than a year ago, but things change. Lucky for us.

Twenty years of playing together brings something to the stage that is palpable. A tightness and confidence in performance that you can’t get without all that experience. It was apparent from the first notes that this was going to be special.

The sound was perfect. They had great stage presence. Everybody was all over the stage, using 100 percent of it. The energy was tangible. During “English Town,” guitarist Paul Douchette stepped up to a pair of large tom toms and practically killed them. It was amazing to watch. He was their drummer originally and moved to guitar several years ago. He was playing with so much power and force that I’m surprised he didn’t blow right through the heads. Rob Thomas appeared to be as tight as you can get. You could see his passion in his neck, his arms, and his face. All his muscles were taught. He presented each song with power and passion all night long.

They had a great lighting setup to go with the awesome sound system. Ten huge panels of lights hanging from rigging were moving in a precarious ballet above the musicians’ heads all night. Moving from side to side, up and down, rotating — you get the picture. The musicians were not only tight with each other, but with the lighting. When a song ended on a staccato accent, the lights immediately went black in unison.

“Real World”  from “Yourself or Someone Like You” was their opener. It got just about everybody up on their feet right away. There were a lot of highlights during the show. I can’t even name them all without just running down the whole set list, but “Bent, How Far We’ve Come,” “So Sad and Lonely,” and “Push,” to name a few, really shined. There encore started with “3 A.M.,” which really got everybody up. They followed this with “Long Day” and “Bright Lights.”

They are obviously older than they were in the ’90s, and they look a bit different. I forgot that Rob Thomas was Mr. MB20 (embarrassing as it is to admit), and I didn’t even recognize him for a few minutes. He’s no longer sporting the Nero hairstyle. They are all still fit and healthy looking, so age is treating them well. There was an uneven balance of single women in the audience. Go figure.

The enthusiasm didn’t wane at any point during the show. Staying power, for sure. Matchbox Twenty has what it takes to keep this show on the road for another 20 years.

-Nick McCabeTahoe Onstage

    Rob Thomas – lead vocals, guitar, keyboard
    Kyle Cook – lead Guitar, vocals
    Briane Yale – bass
    Paul Douchette – guitar, drums, vocals
    Stacey Jones – drums
    Matt Beck – keyboards, guitar
    Real World
    Girl Like That
    She’s So Mean
    I’ll Believe You When
    If You’re Gone
    Hand Me Down
    How Far We’ve Come
    All Your Reasons
    Mad Season
    So Sad So Lonely
    English Town
    Back 2 Good
    3 A.M.
    Long Day
    Bright Lights
    Nick McCabe

About Nick McCabe

Nick McCabe is a musician, photographer and writer from Reno. He is the editor of the music website Front Row Photo. He plays in a seven-piece band, Apothic.

One comment

  1. Great review…I was there and missed some of the details revealed in your article. Good work!

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