Matchbox Twenty @ Tempus Two Winery, Hunter Valley – 19 April 2008

There are very few bands I’d stand out in the rain to see. But last night I did it for Matchbox Twenty, and I’d happily do it again.

Honestly, I was thrilled the concert went ahead at all. When I awoke in the morning to see rain falling steadily I convinced myself it’d be called off. But it all seemed to clear during the day, and I began to breathe a little easier. That is, until we arrived at Tempus Two to see the ominous black clouds.

The heavens opened up before Thirsty Merc even took the stage. My husband and I donned rain coats and draped plastic over out legs in attempts to stay relatively dry. It was all a little bit futile. Our raincoats didn’t have hoods, so the rain dripped down our noses and spattered our glasses so we could barely see.

Thankfully Thirsty Merc delivered one of the best performances I’ve seen them give in some time. I became an early fan of these guys when I saw them support Maroon 5 way back when, but somewhere along the way their live sets became a little lacklustre. Last night though it was almost like they felt they needed to give back to the poor soggy crowd, to make it worth our while. I was a little disappointed by the Slideshows-heavy set list, but I suppose it was to be expected. But they played those songs with gusto, and for a while it made us forget just how miserable it was to be outside.

Then it was time for the main event. I’ll warn you now, I can’t really talk about a Matchbox Twenty show objectively. I’ve followed them devotedly for the last 12 years, and they simply mean more to me than any other band does. Some might say that they mean more to me than any band should.

So when they started up with “How Far We’ve Come” I was simply overwhelmed. That song was a great big loud energetic blur of emotion for me. I couldn’t help but think exactly how far we have come. When I started to see this band I was an angsty 16-year-old attending high school and working a Coles checkout to make some extra cash. Now I’m a writer, a wife, an aunty. So much has changed, yet this band has been this amazing constant in my life. How far we’ve come indeed.

Pleasant musings over, I started to get a little annoyed. Concert etiquette just isn’t what it used to be. In my day, you’d never dream of moving from your nosebleed seats and standing in front of people who had paid for good seats. You’d also never stand in front of those people and have a conversation rather than watch the band. Needless to say, I might have lost my temper with some rude people who did just that. When you come between me and my favourite band apparently I get quite scary because they scattered. Once I could stand in their spots and actually have a decent view I was so much happier.

Greatest hits tours are interesting, because you’re never completely sure what you’re going to get. Sure there are the obvious singles, but there are rarely enough of those to fill a set. With no new album to spruik, Matchbox Twenty reached back into the vault for some fan favourites.

My favourite part of the set was a stripped back acoustic bracket. It began with “Hang” from Yourself or Someone Like You. I’d never heard it live before, and I was overwhelmed. OK I admit it, I became the token crying girl. I managed to compose myself for “If You’re Gone” but the waterworks started again for “Hand Me Down.” Yes it’s a little embarrassing to admit it, but I tell you so you can understand just how moving their performance was. Few bands touch an audience like that, and it’s a real gift.

Covers have always been a highlight of the Matchbox Twenty live experience, and the band decided to make it extra special this time around. Rob told us that they were learning a different Australian song for each local show, a move that earned rapturous applause. And so they launched into the unexpected Kylie Minogue chart topper, “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” Yes it was a whole lot better than the original, but I still detest that song. So when Rob said he wasn’t done with the Aussie stuff yet, I breathed a sigh of relief. What followed was an amazing version of Crowded House’s “Better Be Home Soon,” that had the whole crowd singing along.

The night ended with the obvious closer, “Push.” It was a fitting bookend for “How Far We’ve Come,” a look at those early days, the music that inspired me to stand there like a drowned rat and love every second of it.

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    • http://? Vannessa

      What a review! You can tell you’re a writer. It was a concert I will never ever forget. Thank you so much for sharing your experience :)

    • lkatulka

      Thanks Vannessa! I won’t forget it either. I’ve seen them so many times now and it’s always so amazing. Thanks for reading!