As the holidays approached, it was typical that a few seasonal shows came through town to help us celebrate the season. Buffalo got a very special show, but not in the traditional “holiday” sense. Rather, we were treated to a homecoming of Buffalo’s own Goo Goo Dolls, as they headlined the “Deck the Hall Ball,” also featuring Rob Thomas and Dean Lewis.
The Goo Goo Dolls have gone from hard rock-punk roots in the 1980s to a much more accessible hard rock-alternative sound in the 1990s and have matured into a mainstream rock act in modern years, as they currently tour in support of their current release, Miracle Pill. Just over a year ago, they came through town and played three shows at Buffalo’s historic Shea’s Theater when they toured for the 20th anniversary of their Dizzy Up the Girl album. This time around, it’s a new album, and they couldn’t have come to town on a more exciting evening this December. Shortly before the Goos were set to take the stage, the Buffalo Bills were kicking off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in what turned out to be a playoff-clinching win on Sunday evening.
Doors opened early for this show as fans piled into Buffalo River Works, an enormous entertainment complex that’s become increasingly known for hosting big shows here in town. The sold-out crowd appeared to have already shown up when up-and-coming Australian rock artist Dean Lewis took the stage. While I wasn’t familiar with his music at the time, I’ve spent some time listening to his debut album, A Place We Knew and it’s solid. Check out some standout tracks that were performed at the show including “Waves,” “Be Alright” and “7 Minutes.” Lewis spent his performance trading off between a keyboard and a guitar as he performed his brief six-song set.
Rob Thomas took the stage next, Clearly, in need of no introduction, he performed a career-spanning set, including some of his own hits “Mockingbird,” “Her Diamonds” and “This Is How a Heart Breaks” as well as some Matchbox 20 songs “If You’re Gone,” “3 A.M.” and “Unwell” and a cover of his smash-hit duet with Carlos Santana “Smooth.” He appeared on stage with a microphone stand wrapped in red garland. Later in the night, he performed “A New York Christmas” as the sole holiday selection of the set, before later closing out the set with another smash hit “Lonely No More.”
Ordinarily, this would have been a fantastic headlining set for any crowd, but tonight, the fans were itching for Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac to take the stage and perform once again in the Queen City. Fortunately, the set change didn’t take long and the Goo Goo Dolls hit the stage promptly at 10 pm as scheduled, opening things up with “Indestructible” from their latest album, Miracle Pill. They immediately followed it up with a pair of massive hits from 1998’s Dizzy Up the Girl including “Slide” and “Black Balloon” before performing the title track from Miracle Pill.
The rest of the set was somewhat of a greatest hits package, including “Here Is Gone,” “Name,” Better Days” and “Broadway” alongside a few more selections from their latest effort including “Fearless” and “Autumn Leaves.” They closed out the show with their career-making smash-hit “Iris.”
For a reasonably short set (typical of a co-headlining act), the Goo Goo Dolls did a fantastic job of hitting the right notes throughout their catalog as well as promoting their latest release. As a hometown show, it’s hard not to want to hear more tracks from the early-mid ’90s on albums like Superstar Car Wash and A Boy Named Goo. That said, you can pack just so much into a 90-minute set. It’s great to see these guys still putting on such a big show after all these years and continuing to put out relevant music in a pretty timely fashion. As this was the final date on the tour, there’s nothing else on the agenda at the moment. The Goo Goo Dolls head to the UK after the new year, but I suspect we’ll see them around again in 2020.
Goo Goo Dolls