Rob Thomas arrived in Joliet in support of his latest album, The Great Unknown, the third solo studio album by the Matchbox Twenty lead singer. Thomas enjoyed a near sold-out theater filled with an upbeat, excited crowd.
From the synth-pop sounds of songs like “One Shot” to the groove-based “Give Me the Meltdown,” Thomas has found success in his solo career, despite many of the songs sounding like they were MB20’s leftovers. That was certainly the case with his performance of songs like “Lonely No More” and the earnest “Someday.” Maybe Thomas’s current release is the real reason for not working on the next Matchbox Twenty album.
“Give yourself over to having a good time,” Thomas cajoled the crowd, then dove into a screaming version of “Real World ’09.” When he wanted to slow it down, he performed a beautiful acoustic version of “Cradlesong,” his vocals genuine with emotion.
He turned “Getting Late” into a country rocker and faded into Elvis Presley’s version of “That’s Alright, Mama,” and performed a loving tribute to Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” that showed how good his supporting band is. “3 A.M.,” on piano, was one of the few MB20 songs played this evening.
His encore was a high-energy romp through arguably his best songs: “Smooth,” written with Carlos Santana, and 2005’s “This Is How a Heart Breaks,” during which Thomas ran through the crowd.
The opener, Vinyl Station, was the surprise of the night with 20 minutes of originals in the Coldplay / U2 vein.