Arts, Features

REVIEW: Goo Goo Dolls rock House of Blues’ stage with youthful zeal for 20th anniversary tour

Guitarist-vocalist Johnny Rzeznik of the American rock band the Goo Goo Dolls performs at the House of Blues Boston Wednesday night. SERENA YU/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The Goo Goo Dolls brought their iconic sound to Boston’s House of Blues to the delight of a sold-out crowd Wednesday night.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their album “Dizzy Up the Girl,” the band stirred up two decades’ worth of nostalgia into a night full of sing-alongs, enthusiastic guitar solos and even a digital clone of frontman John Rzeznik.

While time can cause some bands to turn sour, the Goo Goo Dolls’ sound has aged well, like a fine wine, after over three decades of making music.

The night kicked off with a full performance of the songs on “Dizzy” from beginning to end. The album cover hung behind the band, encased in a golden frame like a timeless work of art — a fitting parallel to the group’s longevity.

As the electric guitar brought up the Dolls’ alternative rock sound, the lights pulsed along — the atmosphere was electric. For songs that are older than some college students, the Dolls proved they could perform as if 1998 were just yesterday.

Tracks like “Slide,” “Broadway” and “All Eyes On Me” played like an early 2000’s movie soundtrack. While the songs reverberated throughout the dimly lit House of Blues, the band’s energy infused into the crowd with a dance-along, sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs spirit.

The tunes brought a refreshing break from today’s pop hits and made me want to hop in a car with my best friends and drive, belting along to the music the whole way through.

While audience members shared the venue with over 2,000 people, the performance retained an intimate setting.

Throughout the night, Rzeznik engaged with the audience as if this were a meeting between old friends. In fact, at the beginning of the show, Rzeznik mentioned how after Boston, the band would be playing in their hometown of Buffalo, New York.

Bassist and vocalist Robby Takac, a founding member, brought the same energy of his early 20’s when the band began.

A homecoming of sorts, the show played off this long-established familiarity: guitarist Brad Fernquist and keyboardist Jim McGorman both attended Berklee College of Music and drummer Craig Macintyre is a Worcester-born local.

When the hit-song “Iris” came up — the 11th out of 13 tracks on “Dizzy,” — the band became conductors and the audience turned into the main chorus. The lights raised on the house and attention was drawn from the stage to all those present in the shared space.

While the song conjures up images of slow dances and romance, the night’s rendition brought together the love of a city, a band and a song. It was something to behold.

The Dolls completed the album with a satisfying array of vivacious, head-banging songs in harmony with the ones that made you stop and listen. Twenty years did not lead to any atrophy. Rather, the performance felt familiar, yet still new.

A short break punctuated the two halves of the concert. Once the show resumed, Rzeznik came back onstage with an LED screen. Then, a digital clone of Rzeznik came on center stage and the two went on to have a conversation — even going to the lengths of singing and playing guitar together.

This bit felt too overworked and seemed like a ploy to modernize the band. It felt unnecessary and anachronistic. The acoustic guitar renditions were a nice change from the full band but would have felt much more natural with two human beings instead of one and a recording.

After the strange digital performance, the band went on to play a range of their greatest hits. “Two Days in February” and “Name” brought about new energy, progressing through the Dolls’ discography and timeline.

The band rounded out the night with tracks including “Notbroken,” “I Don’t Want to Know” and “There You Are.” While the energy still lingered throughout the second half, the selection of greatest hits felt less congruous as the first.

Ultimately, the night became a time capsule. The songs felt as fresh as they were 20 years before, and the band felt just as young. While time travel may not have been invented yet, the Goo Goo Dolls came near close.





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