Okay, admit it, like us you thought this whole pandemic thing would be nothing more than a few weeks on the couch, slacking off from work using up “holiday” dates. Apart from epidemiologists, who honestly thought that some seven months later we would still be in this situation, with worse to come? Remember how tour after tour, gig after gig, fell like dominoes once the realization sank in and borders started to close? Did you think for a second that with a few exceptions the entire 2020 gig calendar would be wiped out, and early 2021 at risk? Nope. Artists have had to learn to adapt in order to stay connected to their fanbase, as well as earning a living. The Livestream seems to be the favored option, and although not in any way a replacement for the rush of the house lights dimming, done properly it is still thrilling. Enter multi-platinum Goo Goo Dolls and their recent ‘Grounded With The Goo Goo Dolls Virtual Rock Show’.
In some ways, a Livestream is like a ticket to a paid VIP meet and greet with your favorite band. Before the show starts enjoy some choice Goo Goo Dolls videos to get you in the mood, as well as an interview with John Rzeznik and Robby Takac. Hang around after the show and you are invited to a virtual meet and greet/Q&A with the band. Hell, you can even order food to be delivered to your house during the Livestream!
So once the “pre-show entertainment” has faded out, the band is front and center and launching into ‘Indestructible’; the opening track to last year’s well-received ‘Miracle Pill’ album. The production is surprisingly top-notch and not what you might have thought a Livestream would be like. Multi-cameras, even an option called “Directors Chair” where you can select the camera angle of your choosing, great lights, and video screens behind the band providing a welcome backdrop. Next up is the first visit to the iconic ‘Dizzy Up The Girl’ album with ‘Big Machine’ and there’s a killer shot when the camera pans in on John Rzeznik after he sings the lines…”..God, it’s good to be alive…” and the beaming smile on his face says it all. Back onstage playing music with his buddies – priceless. Okay, there might not be an actual audience to feed off, but the smiles are heartwarming and it’s hard not to get a little emotional when the penny drops just how much you miss live gigs.
Like last year’s European tour, tonight is a long set covering the length of the illustrious career of Buffalo’s finest. Most of it is from ’Dizzy Up The Girl’ onwards, with ‘Name’ from 1995’s ‘A Boy Named Goo’ the sole pre-Dizzy. ‘Smash’ (with lead vocals from Robby Takac) still sounds as raw and energetic as it did way back in 2002 and like his long-time buddy Rzeznik, Robby is beaming from ear-to-ear. This continues as the band slams into ‘January Friend’ with Takac still at the helm. A knockout one-two from the cool-as-fuck bassist. Another highlight is when, after he jokes about the fake crowd…” it’s not like we had a party and didn’t invite you!”…, Rzeznik introduces ‘Acoustic #3’ as his young daughter’s favorite and jokes that he’s playing it for her…” then you’re going to bed!”. ‘Stay With You’ and ‘Bringing On The Light’ has the band purring like a finely tuned Rolls Royce engine, while ‘Tattered Edge/You Should Be Happy’ still has a real bounce-factor to it. The kind of track made for an actual real-live gig and fans bouncing as one. There’s also a poignant moment with the lines…” Do you think we can save what’s left of the American dream? They say we didn’t pay to hear opinions so why don’t you shut up and sing?…” Rzeznik retorts…” ..fuck it…” after the line about opinions and in all honesty, the line is so timely that it could have been written during the soundcheck.
The stand-out moments come in the last ten minutes or so. First up is an extended version of ‘Autumn Leaves’ with some killer slide-guitar from Brad Fernquist who has been delivering some incredible guitar licks all evening. Then, of course, is the Goo Goo Dolls’ very own ‘Smoke On The Water’, ‘Stairway To Heaven’, ‘Highway To Hell’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ etc; what else but ‘Iris’. Fernquist on the mandolin with a “curtain” of roman candle fireworks falling behind him is a sight to see. Rzeznik must have sung this song a thousand times, but he still performs it like it is the first time, and as strange as it sounds; like it’s the last time. What a way to bring the curtain down. After party? Yep, there’s the Q&A session where John Rzeznik and Robby Takac take questions from fans and, amongst other things, enthuse about playing in Brazil!
We are constantly being told that we need to change our habits, and live with this pandemic as it is not going anywhere soon. The live entertainment sector has taken a pounding, so Livestreams are going to be with us for some time to come. When they are as good as this, and the viewer can see the time and effort that went into making it a night to remember, then it makes the pain from missing the lights going down a little bit more bearable.
Connect with Goo Goo Dolls here.
Review – Dave
Live Images – Callum Scott – Glasgow 2019