As the UK lurches from one storm to another, it’s left to a band entering their fifth decade to bring some much needed relief from the rain, snow and the inevitable public traffic chaos. But the large crowd gathered outside, shivering in the rain, don’t seem to mind the fairly unpleasant start to the evening, even though it would seem that not everyone has dressed for the weather. The multi-platinum and Grammy-nominated Goo Goo Dolls are kicking off their UK tour at the O2 Academy in Glasgow, and like a handful of other gigs on this six-date tour, tonight is sold-out. The tour will see the New York natives working their way south, ending in London on Thursday 27th with another sold-out show, all while promoting their 12th studio album; ‘Miracle Pill’.
The hall is nicely filled by the time opening act Valeras take to the stage. The Reading-based outfit seem, at least to my grizzled eyes, incredibly young, but what my ears are hearing is a strong, confident band of youngsters gripping this opportunity with both hands. The sold-out crowd appreciate the enthusiastic pop-rock songs that Valeras have in abundance, and the band leave the stage to genuine cheers.
Opening the set with ‘Indestructible’, from the aforementioned new album ‘Miracle Pill’, founding members John Rzeznik and Robby Takac, and assembled musicians, set the bar high for the rest of the evening. An evening which will see the set-list hitting twenty-plus songs. 2010’s ‘Home’ is up next, quickly followed by the first visit of the evening to the seminal ‘Dizzy Up The Girl’ album, with a rather splendid rendition of the chart-topping ‘Slide’. The noise from the crowd as the song ends is deafening (as it is for the remainder of the evening).
Rzeznik surely must have found the fountain of youth, as he looks like he has just stepped out of one of the band’s classic MTV video’s. Takac is having a ball, and has a massive smile plastered across his face from the start, and it never leaves his face all night,. A comparison could be made to Tim Minchin both vocally and sartorially, but with shoes. Rzeznik and Takac are joined by Brad Fernquist on guitar, Korel Tunador on keyboard and Craig Macintyre on drums, the drummers’ Scottish roots are mentioned and of course meet with the expected Glasgow roar. The guitar interplay between Fernquist and Rzeznik is incredible, especially when the frontman swaps his trademark acoustic for a battered old Fender.
‘Miracle Pill’ features a cracking singalong, followed by a few stops at the 2002 album ‘Gutterflower’ in the shape of ‘Here Is Gone’, ‘Big Machine’ and ‘Smash’, before ‘Dizzy Up The Girl’ is revisited with ‘January Friend’. Black balloons tumble from the rafters during ‘Black Balloon’ (naturally) and one makes a surprise interruption during the heartfelt ‘Name’ by popping mid song and “scaring the shit” out of Rzeznik…..”I’m trying to have a moment!”
Of course the biggest cheer came from the opening few chords of acoustic ballad ‘Iris’, with the crowd cheering in anticipation of the moment they’d waited for. ‘Iris’ – 18 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Airplay chart in the US, and one of the biggest crossover hits in the history of popular music. Hearing such a well loved classic played live is a real treat, it’s the stand out moment in a very strong set.
Ending the set with a stunning one-two of the old and new, in the shape of the classic ‘Broadway’ and an incredible version of new track ‘Autumn Leaves’, Goo Goo Dolls proved yet again that they are still capable of producing stunning musical memories some thirty-odd years after their inception.
Review and images – Callum Scott