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Concert Reviews:
Rob Thomas makes good with spirited return to Meadow Brook
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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ROCHESTER HILLS -- Rob Thomas was only a couple of songs into his show on Wednesday night, Aug. 28, at the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre when he apologized "for the delay" -- a wait of nearly three months for the singer and his fans.



Thomas' original June 1 date was postponed due to severe weather, but not until after opening act had played. The "delay," however, didn't seem to deter a healthy crowd (north of 5,000) from turning out for the make-good, while Thomas promised that even though "we promised you a Saturday" return, he would make the mid-week performance just as special.



And he did. Following Max Frost's engaging, if gimmicky, one-man-band opening, Thomas and his tight seven-piece band romped through a spirited and generous two hours that touched on the full range of his 23-year solo career, including matchbox twenty favorites, some judiciously chosen covers and four tracks from his fourth and latest solo album, "Chip Tooth Smile." The 22-song set showcased his Grammy Award-winning songwriting skills (he hasn't been tapped by Santana, Mick Jagger, Willie Nelson and more for no reason) as well as his earnestly sincere demeanor, occasionally self-deprecating as the 47-year old -- clad in a denim jacket, striped jeans and, during the encores, a Detroitish T-shirt -- offered a few "Storyteller"-worthy narratives between songs.



Wednesday's arrangements often amplified the funkier undertones in Thomas' songs, though the opening "I Love It" and the tribal "Fire on the Mountain" rocked hard and there was a melodic shimmer to songs such as "Her Diamonds," "Sunday Morning, New York Blue" and "We Were Beautiful." The new "One Less Day (Dying Young)" built into a Celtic anthem, while the ebullient "Streetcorner Symphony" was its usual fail-safe entry, extended by Thomas' equally exuberant band member introductions -- as well as the first of several trips up Meadow Brook's side aisles.



Calling matchbox twenty "the best pop-rock band in the world" -- and promising the group would be touring next year -- Thomas stripped down his versions of "If You're Gone" and "3 A.M." and delivered a faithful encore rendition of "Unwell," all accompanied by audience singalongs. A stomp through David Bowie's "Let's Dance" gave the band a chance to vamp a little more, while "Smooth" -- the Santana smash Thomas co-wrote and sang (and which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year) -- received a harder rocking treatment that led into the show-closing "This Is How a Heart Breaks."



Despite some early evening sprinkles, the sky stayed dry throughout Wednesday's show (opener Frost took credit for that) and the Meadow Brook crowd clearly harbored no ill will about the concert's postponement. And Thomas rewarded that good will with a show that was, indeed, well worth waiting for.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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