Unexpected circumstances didn’t deter those immersed in Charlotte’s Uptown Amphitheater at NC Music Factory Tuesday night from coming to see Grammy Award winning artist and lead singer of pop rock multi-platinum superstars Matchbox Twenty, Rob Thomas. Apart of The Great Unknown Tour supporting the album released this year and bearing the same name, the show along with several other dates on the tour had been rescheduled from its initial date of July 28 due to the sudden onset of illness to Rob’ wife Marisol. Being there in person however, (many thanks again to Kim Shiver for the accommodations), I couldn’t imagine a better performance happening.
Vinyl Station quelled the chatter of the crowd with the self-deprecating declaration of their being an unknown band opening on a tour of headliners. Amidst the chuckles, the indie quartet from Phoenix, Arizona with introduced their instrumental heavy sound that was a dynamic opener for an anticipatory crowd. Pop-punk juniors Plain White T’s followed and true to their standings as college age friendly’s, emerged on stage wearing skinny jeans and equipped with shiny red plastic cups containing an unknown liquid. After inquiring if the crowd would stay with them tonight, they transitioned into the single “Stay” off this year’s released album, “American Nights”. Gears were then switched from the new to the old as the band busted out their signature song, “Hey There Delilah”. Halfway through the song, primary front man Tom Higgenson paused and commented on the odorous stench that had begun to fill the night air. After musing for several moments on the identity and nature of what it could be, Higgenson then offered a few simple steps for dealing with the matter in the form of secondary hit, “1234” before trading off with backup vocalist Tim Lopez who explained the inspiration for their finale, the ode to affection “Rhythm of Love”.
The night’s primary attraction appeared as the crowd erupted at the sight of Rob Thomas. Rob’s set (enhanced by his eclectic backing band) was a mixture featuring songs off his new album, as well as prior solo material. Pre-millennials that grew up on Matchbox Twenty were appeased by the insertion of a piano driven rendition of “3AM”. Before performing Grammy Award winning single “Smooth”, Thomas mentioned that he grew up in neighboring state South Carolina to a parade of cheers from the crowd before clarifying that he had spent the last 17 years living in New York with his wife. Upon this mention, he then accounted that when he met his collaborator for the single, (legendary American & Mexican musician Carlos Santana) had accurately assessed her nationality based on a line in the song. Realizing that the time that had passed since its release and toying with his advancing age, Thomas referred to himself as “Uncle Rob” and jokingly cautioning a young attendee to “not to use profane language at least until the age of 12” after employing a choice expletive himself.
Ever the showman, Rob bounced from corner to corner of the stage, taking pictures and offering high-fives. Thomas eventually leaped to the venue floor and made his way through the sections of people whereupon he stood atop a vacant seat and orchestrated a sing along with the crowd. This allowance of fan interactivity immersed the audience more than anything that preceded it and was never more poignantly on display than when another young attendee was directly engaged in conversation by Thomas and eventually, was brought up to stage where she sat upon his shoulders and was serenaded by all to the tune of the single “Someday”. Having seen Mr. Thomas perform twice individually and once with Matchbox Twenty, I can attest that like a fine wine, he only gets better with age.
For remaining tour dates and additional info on Rob, please visit http://www.robthomasmusic.com/
For more on Plain White T’s, please visit http://www.plainwhitets.com/
Lamarr Fowlkes is a Raleigh, NC based writer, contributing to Triangle Arts & Entertainment. A current Promotions Assistant for LiveNation, descendent of Welsh heritage, and hockey enthusiast, Lamarr will continue to provide arts and entertainment event reviews for the Triangle while expanding his reach to the remainder of the Carolinas. To read more of Lamarr’s posts for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/lamarr-fowlkes