Matchbox 20’s lead singer Rob Thomas is working solo this summer tour season with his new album, “Chip Tooth Smile”. The over 2000 seat St. Pete theater was filled to the brim with a diverse audience that ranged from young kids with their parents to 60 something music freaks.
Thomas is a talented songwriter that has written not only his own tunes but for many other artists including Mick Jagger and Carlos Santana. Opening with a rocker from the new album “I Love It” has the entire floor on their feet and they never sat back down, even during the ballads.
It didn’t take Thomas long to get into the hits, starting with “Lonely No More” from his 2005 No.1 album, “Something to Be”. Next came the song he wrote for his wife, “Her Diamonds”, from his 2009 album, “Cradlesong”. Rob has an emotional delivery in these personal songs that takes you in with him when you least expect it. He also honors the Matchbox fans by having several MB20 songs on the set list along with his solo ventures, starting with “If You’re Gone”. Matchbox started in Orlando and has special meaning to Florida fans! FYI, Thomas also lived in Sarasota with his mother and sister when he was a young boy before moving to Orlando.
“Streetcorner Symphony” is a great jam! A little known fact is John Mayer is on guitar and backing vocals on the original 2006 recording, “One Less Day (Dying Young)” is the first single released from the new record and is a catchy, life anthem. The audience was singing along to the chorus. A surprise treat for Thomas diehards was “Little Wonders”. A song from Disney’s 2007 “Meet the Robinsons” soundtrack. Thomas pays homage to Bowie with a cover of “Let’s Dance” in high energy form and Rob has made this showstopper part of his repertoire for many years.
At 47, Thomas still has the girls screaming and works that to a point but he talks about his wife Marisol several times during the show. Their Sidewalk Angels Foundation supports many charity endeavors. His intro for “The Worst in Me” is about the autobiographical good girl/bad boy relationship. An acoustic guitar in tow, Thomas plays two notes and the entire theater knows what’s coming next! The haunting sounds of 3 A.M. and everyone is singing! Hit after hit comes next with Rob running up into the audience and standing on a seat creating mini chaos! Ending it with rockin’to “Something to Be”.
A great band backing Thomas includes multi-instrumentalist Korel Tunador, who has worked with Katy Perry and the Goo Goo Dolls. Guitarist Frank Romano has toured with Rob previously as well as doing a lot of session work with the likes of Patti LaBelle, John Legend and Mary J Blige. Drummer Abe Fogle, who Rob spends a lot of time running to via ramps in either side of Fogle. Rob is constantly on the move except to take a break at the piano. Background singers Ayo and Meloney work it with vocals, percussion and even some acoustic guitar. Bassist Al Carty has played with Alicia Keys and Queen Latifah. Keyboardist Matt Beck, who has also toured with Rob and Matchbox, is the band leader.
The Encore brings Rob and company back to the stage for “Pieces” and MB20’s hit “Unwell” which is a fun sing-along. This is the 20th anniversary of the megahit “Smooth” that both Rob and Carlos Santana are celebrating on their respective tours. Rob talks about learning about gratitude from Carlos. It is an awesome jam and sounds as fresh as ever! It still ranks the #2 best-selling single ever! The show ends with the pumped up “This is How A Heart Breaks”. One of the best musicians of his generation, Rob Thomas did the right thing keeping that chipped tooth, keeping it real is what he does!
Opening for Rob is newcomer Abby Anderson. She is a rising star in contemporary country. Check out her video on YouTube called “Make Him Wait”. Tour dates and info are on
his FB Page.
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / The Sarasota Post