Matchbox Twenty | 2.04.08

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live_matchbox20.jpgMatchbox Twenty poured their soul into the love affair of their new album, potent emotion apparent in every moment, real and raw.







Despite a blustering February snowstorm, a generous crowd packed into the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul for Matchbox Twenty's greatly anticipated "Exile in America" tour. In the nearly five years since their last album's release, fans undoubtedly had high expectations for the show. Matchbox Twenty delivered—however unusual their method of doing so.

The evening opened with indie group Mute Math. The New Orleans-based group drew some intrigue with their techno-funk retro sound. Drummer Darren King's energetic fury sparked an enthusiasm in the crowd and his group, who seemed to awaken from a comatose state after the first two songs. Upon their awakening, energy exploded on stage in an unusual kind of harmony with an unusual kind of sound. An uncertain audience gawked through the set, drawn to Mute Math's energy, and simultaneously locked in a state of confusion by the stylistic but appalling sound.

Empty seats rapidly filled as a perplexed-but-recovering audience welcomed familiar face Alanis Morissette to the X. Morissette's petite frame generated a huge presence in her glitter cowgirl attire. The eccentric and well-loved artist reminisced with "Jagged Little Pill" and "Ironic," among other favorites, as well as introduced tunes from her forthcoming album. Morissette's performance was as emotional and beautiful as anticipated, though upon close inspection, it insinuated one tragedy of fame: the loss in translation of the original passion behind the words that created such tremendous support in the first place. Given that the songs which portrayed this flaw were released more than a decade earlier, this was one jagged little pill that a strong fan base was willing to swallow. The love of Morissette's music was effortlessly regenerated in concert by the passionate force driving her new music. It's easy for an audience to remember why they love Morissette so well, as they consume words that serve as an empowering reminder of our raw humanity.

A newly warmed crowd in a cold city watched in anticipation of Matchbox Twenty's "takeoff," as images of a shuttle projected over three enormous screens and a radio-transmitted conversation indicated that all systems were a go. Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" flooded the stadium, perhaps as a poetic effort to reintroduce the beloved band after a lengthy recess. "God's Gonna Cut You Down" melted effortlessly into the new hit single, "How Far We've Come," and an ardent audience welcomed Matchbox Twenty with a roar. Rob Thomas, lead singer, greeted the crowd with a "What's up, St. Paul!" Immediately thereafter, his gang high-tailed it into "If I Fall," another of six newly released tunes on their Exile on Mainstream album.

They kept it real with "Real World" and other classics, invoking an absolute pandemonium. Easy conversation engaged the audience as Thomas appealed, "Pull out your cell phones and your blackberries and iPhones and all that shit and put 'em up in the air... Aww, hell yeah. Oh, that's so beautiful... you guys gotta keep up and entertain us for this next song." Thousands of backlights responded, swaying to "These Hard Times." Matchbox Twenty poured their soul into the love affair of their new album, potent emotion apparent in every moment, real and raw. Their reactions to one another and to the audience left no doubt of their passion for what they do, why they were there that very evening, and their renewed energy to create. A fervently sought-after encore ensued after several long minutes of unwavering applause and cheer. "All Your Reasons" couldn't have kept this crowd from their beloved Matchbox Twenty that night. | Amanda Pelle

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