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Matchbox Twenty

Matchbox Twenty Lights Up Mid-Florida Amphitheatre in Tampa

| Vicky Sullivan |

Matchbox Twenty’s lead singer/songwriter, Rob Thomas, has roots in the Sarasota/Bradenton area!  Rob and his family lived in the area when he was the ages of 10-12 until they moved to Orlando, where Matchbox was eventually born. While just starting out, Rob and Matchbox came back to Sarasota to play at the 2nd Annual YNF 107 Radio station’s birthday! The show was at Robart’s Arena, and the headliner was the band “Tonic.”  A festival put on by Sarasota resident and promoter Barbara Strauss, who provided The Suncoast Post with a photo of the poster from the event in 1996! Ms. Strauss said it was “obvious that Matchbox was going to hit it big” by the crowd’s reaction to the band at the show.


Fast forward to July 2023, and Matchbox came to Tampa’s Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheatre with the “Slow Dream Tour.”  This tour was originally scheduled for 2020 and finally got on the road this year! Loyal fans had been holding tickets for three years!  This year MB20 has released an album of new music titled “Where the Light Goes,” and they opened the show with the track “Friends,” a celebration of friendship and a perfect opener! The band weaves between new music and hits like “Real World and “Disease”.  There is exceptionally good lighting and graphics for this show.   It has been almost thirty years since Matchbox hit the scene, and they sound just as good as ever.

Matchbox Twenty

The sold-out Tampa crowd was ready for the nostalgia of the 90’s and early 2000’s, but they also were up for the new music. Some diehard fans already knew the song lyrics and were singing along. One of the new tunes, “Queen of New York City,” is a lovely, haunting ballad and tribute to the city that has been home to Thomas for years.  Another string of MB20 hits included “Hand Me Down” (one of their best), “If You’re Gone,” and “Mad Season.” More of a deep cut, 2002’s “Downfall” morphed into Bob Dylan’s “Knockin” on Heaven’s Door” and a sing-along for everyone. Out of a setlist of 23 songs, 14 were solid hits for Matchbox.  Rob Thomas is an energetic frontman who is constantly moving except when on the piano for “Bright Lights,” an anthem of sorts for MB20.


Original band members are Thomas, Brian Yale on bass guitar, Paul Douchette on drums, and Kyle Cook on lead guitar.  Matt Beck is on keyboards & guitar and has toured with the band for many years.  The band did a second encore with a cover of the Simple Minds hit, “Don’t You (Forget About Me). It was a memorable way to close the show. It was a breath of fresh air to see and hear Matchbox Twenty and their incredible music catalog from a post-grunge era, alternative, pop rock band. Another must-see tour this summer!

Vicky Sullivan Photos / Poster from Barbara Strauss

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