Before we get to the concert itself, I’d like to take a few seconds and express my love for the Murat Theatre. I’ve seen my fair share of shows at Old National Centre over the past few years, yet somehow I’ve never been to a show at the beautiful Murat. I must admit my mistake in waiting so long to see a show there and vow to return at the earliest opportunity.
After a slight delay I arrived a little after the beginning of opener Plain White T’s set, a band I wasn’t too fond of back in 2005 when their hit single “Hey There Deliah” was so overplayed on the radio I could recite the entire song by heart — that’s not a good thing. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised by what the band brought to the table. They played several tracks from their 2015 record American Nights, highlighted by “Pause” — an upbeat track about living in the moment that got the crowd off their feet for the first time. “Stay,” lead vocalist Tom Higgenson’s favorite track from the record, was too repetitive and failed to spark mine and the crowd’s interest.
They also dabbled into several of their older projects, playing “Should’ve Gone to Bed” — I’m almost certain every person in America can relate to that song — the title track off their third EP, as well as “The Giving Tree.” The vocals on this track easily made it my favorite track performed by the group all evening. Can’t forget to mention fan favorites played like “Rhythm of Love,” “1,2,3,4” and the previously noted overplayed single.
Whew. Where to start? I’ll steal a lyric from Thomas’ “Lonely No More” to kick things off, "words are only words, can you show me something else?" Boy did he do that. In my interview with Thomas before the show he mentioned that he picks a setlist where you won’t want to get up and use the restroom because you don’t want to miss a single song. He hit that nail on the head by playing hit after hit throughout an amped-up two-hour set.
Touring in support of his unreleased solo album The Great Unknown, Thomas wasted no time and played his single “Trust You” very early on in the set. I was unimpressed with the track in the few listens before the show, and that sentiment continued with the live version — it’s simply an average track. He’d go on to play several more tracks from the record including “Wind It Up” and “One Shot,” both of which had more pizazz and better lyrics than the single.
From there he dove into a mix of tracks from his previous solo albums and Matchbox Twenty. “Cradlesong,” “Her Diamonds," and “Someday” were all played. I’d go into more depth but this isn’t his tour play-by-play.
I will briefly mention a track that I'd never heard before, and for good reason. "Sunday Morning New York Blue" was left off his second solo album Cradlesong, yet lives on a rarely played EP released the following year. After hearing it live, I'd say he made a mistake leaving it off.
Having already played several tracks with the guitar, Thomas had the piano rolled out for a three song mini-set — the most intimate part of the night. A slowed-down acoustic version of “3AM,” and “Little Wonders” were a side of Thomas we hadn’t seen yet.
Thomas left the stage for his band to finish “This Is How A Heart Breaks” and wrap up the evening. But it didn’t end there. He came back out to my personal favorite Matchbox Twenty song “Unwell,” to which his band did ample justice. Sandwiched in the middle was “Something to Be,” highlighted by screams of ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ during the chorus. Before announcing his final track of the evening, Thomas grabbed the mic and began talking about his Latin wife and Carlos Santana. “Smooth” was the closer, and a damn good closer it was. The perfect finish to a tremendous concert.
With an accomplished career that spans two decades, Thomas has enough firepower in his arsenal to let his songs do all the talking. But his on-stage antics played a big part in making the show great. He ran around like a chicken with his head cut off, rubbing his guitarists head often, doing high-knees, spinning the mic-stand around like a pinwheel, and grabbing items from fans — a pair of dog sweaters that were “so cute” you might see them in future pictures of his dogs.
And one of the coolest things about the evening won’t happen until late August when The Great Unknown is released. Each person that attended the concert will receive a digital copy of the album, provided they keep their ticket handy until then. Cool, right?
Finally, Rob Thomas is a heart-throb.