The Goo Goo Dolls performed a sold-out show at Madison’s Orpheum Theatre on Sunday night. Lead vocalist Johnny Rzeznik summed up the night best when he jokingly threatened the audience by saying “don’t let this feel like Sunday, people.”
The audience was, at first glance, all die-hard, day-one fans clad in the band’s old merch and singing along with every word. Upon further inspection, the crowd hosted a fair share of college students, who I assume were reliving the sounds of their childhood.
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The opener “Beach Slang” was an unexpected pick, with metal and punk influence, that matched the “look” of the Goo Goo Dolls, but contrasted the sound. The band successfully riled the audience with some of their bigger hits as well as a fair share of covers, such as The Pixies’ “Where is My Mind,” encouraging some positive outbursts from the crowd.
The Goo Goo Dolls are currently touring their 12th album, “Miracle Pill.” They did not forget any of their classics, however, with “Slide,” “Black Balloon” and “Name” all featured throughout the show. Everyone in attendance that night will remember the lights dimming and Rzeznik discarding his black lightning bolt electric guitar for his simple acoustic as the opening chords of “Sympathy” filled the silent but wide-eyed auditorium.
Rzeznik said that this was not the band’s first tour stop in Madison, as they performed years earlier in a hole-in-the-wall venue. The Goo Goo Dolls were able to replicate this same intimate setting on Sunday through candid conversation with the audience.
“Don’t make me come up there,” Rzeznik joked with the balcony. Their goofier side was reflected with his fusion of a hardhat, leaf blower and harmonica in the 90 minute set.
Years of touring were evident in all aspects of the band’s performance, but there was nothing routine about their show. The band’s bassist, Robby Takac, could not hide his genuine love for his music if he tried, with a grin from ear to ear that didn’t waiver the entire show.
Unlike many concerts I’ve attended recently, the Goo Goo Dolls had nothing to prove to the audience on Sunday. They cater to their base, know what they want to hear and look good doing it. As predicted, the band finished with their Billboard #1 and overwhelming crowd favorite, “Iris,” providing a perfect end and a simple reminder that sometimes there is nothing better than a golden oldie.