Goo Goo Dolls
You can have a major rock show in Robinson Center Music Hall, where the people stand up the whole show, moving and screaming while enjoying a hit-making band. The Goo Goo Dolls proved it Sunday night before a sizeable crowd (the bottom level was nearly full; we couldn’t tell about the balcony, but it was occupied) with a powerful hour-and-45 minute set full of all their big hits and several cuts from their new “Let Love In” record.
After a 17-song regular set, the Goos wrapped up a three-song encore with their remake of Supertramp’s “Give a Little Bit.” Lead singer and guitarist Johnny Rzeznick, donning a black CBGB toboggan, handled the majority of the vocal work during the show, but wild and wacky bassist Robby Takac showed his punk side and higher voice on three upbeat numbers. Solid work by the main trio’s pair of backup musicians — playing an array of instruments from lead guitar to mandolin to keyboards to sax — also highlighted a pulsating show. If there was a negative, it came when Rzeznick held the wireless mic out for the crowd to sing on their most well-known songs, “Name” and “Iris,” even letting a couple of out-of-tune women in the front row sing lines from the chorus on the latter.
But it was the gum-chewing, tanned and smiling Rzeznick who, with the long-haired Takac, rushed out brimming with the confidence that comes with 20 years in the business and the past 12 performing as a major act. These boys were pros in every way, playing with the crowd throughout and appearing genuinely happy to be performing in Little Rock on a Sunday night.
Opening act Augustana from San Bernadino, Calif., played nine melodic songs, several keyboard driven, and satisfied a crowd that had waited an hour for what most thought was a 7 p.m. start (tickets did say “doors open at 7 p.m.) but didn’t get under way until 8:10 or so. Augustana lived up to Takac’s recent comparison of them to early Counting Crows, with poetic style and balanced musicianship across a range of acoustic and electric instruments. This is a good band that is likely to be heard from for some time. They only have two decades to go to match the confidence carried by the headliners.