Friday, September 17, 2004



"Show: A Night In The Life of Matchbox Twenty" DVD Review.

I love live music. Whenever the opportunity presented itself when I was younger, I leaped at the chance to go to a concert. The atmosphere of a concert cannot be matched and, if the band was "on", it transformed their music from sound to EXPERIENCE. Today, I no longer find the atmosphere as appealing (too crowded, too loud, too freakin' EXPENSIVE).

Thank goodness for DVD.

I would have a very hard time justifying paying $100 for two tickets to a Matchbox Twenty show. My wife and I both like the band a lot (me more than her), but tickets, dinner, parking and crowds add up to "Let's do something else". $25 for the concert DVD, now that's something else. And let me say that, while I do have an extensive DVD collection, this is one of the few DVD's I would have gladly paid more for. It's THAT good. Let's start with the concert, shot at the Philips Arena in Hotlanta.

Before viewing this DVD, I suggest getting familiar with MB20's latest album More Than You Think You Are. Of the 20 songs performed, 12 songs are from the new CD (So Sad So Lonely is actually tacked on to the of the last song on the disc, The Difference, which is also the only song not performed live. If your familiarity with Matchbox only covers Mad Season and/or Yourself or Someone Like You, you'll recognize the hits, but not much else.

The show opens with Cold, from the new disc. This is the only song not totally consistent with the album, as the layers of fuzz the album version is buried in is stripped away. The cleaner sound works a whole lot better as the song really drives without the effects and makes a great opener. It's cool to see the first closeup of Rob Thomas, as he just looks so thrilled to be doing the show and the excitement on his face is so obvious.

The band then draws their first major cheer of the night with opening strains of Real World. Following that, 7 of the next 10 songs are from the new album, the exceptions being 3AM, whose opening acoustic guitar lick draws huge crowd response, Mad Season and a stripped-down If You're Gone, which ditches the horn arrangement and is played on a solo guitar by Kyle Cook. Thomas and Cook also do a smart job on the vocals for If You're Gone, displaying tight harmonies and tremendous sensitivity.

The transition from Gone to Bright Lights to Bent is a bit jarring, especially since they slow it right down again after Bent with Unwell and Back 2 Good . I would have inserted Bent after Feel and then ran off Back 2 Good, If You're Gone, Hand Me Down, Unwell and Bright Lights. The set proper closes with Downfall and a slamming You're So Real. The encore starts with So Sad So Lonely (the unnamed track from More Than....) and then the show winds up with two MB20 staples, Long Day and Push.

I expressly left out the early middle of the show because I wanted to spend some time writing about this. In order to fully appreciate the stretch between All I Need and If You're Gone, you really need to sit down and listen to More Than... because you will be better prepared for the awesomeness of this section. As I stated in an earlier post, I foolishly dismissed More Than... and as a result, fast-forwarded this segment of the show the first couple of times I listened to the DVD. Big mistake. This is now, easily, my favorite segment of the show. The band is really into these tunes and two in particular, Soul and Could I Be You, stand out above the rest for the sheer joy and exuberance the band puts forth in performing them. The bass line at the end of Could I Be You is astonishing live and the power the band puts forth in this sequence just blew me away. The concert disc earns my highest recommendation.

Don't stop reading yet. We have Disc 2 to do.

Now Disc 2 is in some ways, forgettable. I have no use for still pictures, as it requires way too much of my attention to be worthwhile (I tend to do other things while watching DVDs), so the photo and lyric galleries are useless. However, I liked the multi-angle presentations of Soul and Bright Lights, which are great fun. For the multi-angles, a camera was trained on each band member for the duration of the song and a sixth camera shot the bulk of the footage used in the concert video. By using the "Angle" button on their remote, the viewer can flip from band member to band member. This gives the viewer an idea of what each band member is doing during a song. It was actually from the multi-angles that I got an appreciation of how much these guys love their music, as drummer Paul Doucette just loses himself in the performance of Soul. This is all good, but there's something a whole lot better.

If the concert is the ice cream, the documentary on disc 2 is the chocolate sauce and cherry on top of the sundae. MB20 includes a 40-minute documentary showing the band on- and off-stage, preparing for sound checks, planning the show and a lot more. The doc was shot over the duration of the tour, winding up with the final show on the 4th of July (where they were playing escapes me). The viewer is introduced to the entire crew, gets a pretty detailed look at life on the road with MB20 and, in general, gets an appreciation for how arduous (and fun) the road can be. There are some very funny bits (Paul and Rob negotiating bus bed assignments with their head of security, Paul damaging his hand (bad for drummers) while worrying over the lighting for the show, Adam Gaynor touring the viewer through the #2 bus, Rob spoofing on the York Peppermint Patty commercials) and a lot of stuff that really drives home the level of camaraderie shared by these guys. This doc is worth the price of admission alone.

One disclaimer I want to make here. The boys are a little foul-mouthed. If you are watching with kids, fast-forward the intro to Unwell, since it is peppered with f-bombs. Also, in the doc, there is a sequence at the start where Rob and Paul are giving the stage manager a hard time and use some, shall we say, less-than-tasteful phrases to describe him. Buyer beware.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I HUGELY recommend this DVD, especially if you are a Matchbox Twenty fan. My quibbles over song order are minor, the disc looks and sounds AWESOME and provides an unbelievably detailed look at a band that is a crossover success and, I think, on the verge of major superstardom.

Concert - 9/10
Sound Quality - 5/5
Picture Quality - 4/5
Extras - 4/5 (Gotta dock a point for the useless galleries. If they had just given me the multi-angles and the doc, it's an easy 5/5.)

Overall - 22/25.

Slightly below what I rated Michael W. Smith, but awesome nonetheless. Available online by clicking here (

As always, thoughts and feedback are welcome and encouraged.

Later, all.