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Concert Reviews:
Rob Thomas delivers something for "everybody" at DTE concert
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Rob Thomas promised to "play a little bit for everybody" on Thursday night (June 15th) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre. And he was true to his word, offering a career-spanning show that proved him an artist with a formidable catalog already in his relatively young career.

To some Thomas is the frontman for matchbox twenty. Others know him best for his solo debut, 2005's platinum "Something to Be." And then there's his role in singing and co-writing Santana's Grammy-winning "Smooth." Thomas -- performing on a bill with Jewel and newcomer Toby Lightman -- covered all of that ground over the course of a dynamically crafted two hours, with a few surprises amidst a headliner-worthy repertoire of familiar material.

Thomas and his facile seven-piece band started strong, with the rocking "This is How a Heart Breaks" (a bit of a knife in the hearts of Detroit Pistons fans since it was the theme of last year's NBA playoffs) leading into the funky "Falling to Pieces" and the midtempo matchbox twenty hit "If You're Gone." And there was plenty of energy throughout the evening via songs such as "Streetcorner Symphony," "Lonely No More," "Something to Be's" chunky title track, "Not Just a Woman" from a special mini-album he recorded for Target and covers of Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House," David Bowie's "Let's Dance" and, with Jewel, the Stevie Nicks-Tom Petty duet "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around."

But many of the real treats were Thomas' revisions of his hits, including a slowed version of matchbox twenty's "3 AM" and stripped-down solo renderings of "Smooth," "Now Comest the Night" and "Bent." These gave the DTE crowd of 7,200 a peek at Thomas as craftsman and put a little artistic flesh his well-established pop personality.

Coming on after Lightman's brief set -- which was politely received by the arriving crowd -- Jewel's 65-minute show had its share of hits, too ("Hands," "Standing Still," a solo acoustic "You Were Meant For Me" and a somewhat messy, extended arrangement of "Who Will Save Your Soul") but was surprisingly bloodless. Early on the Interlochen-educated troubadour told one of her band members that her "overall state of being" was off, and she did seem a bit detached.

Jewel did, however, maintain a friendly patter with the crowd and particularly with ardent fans who were shouting requests. And a cheerful yodeling display as well as strong performances of "Satellite" and "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland" helped camouflage the set's overall stiffness.



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