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Concert Reviews
Goo Goo Dolls wsg Third Eye Blind, Vanessa Carlton
(DTE Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI – 08/21/02)

Born in a tiny town in Pennsylvania, Vanessa Carlton has shot to fame in literally the space of a musical heartbeat. Taking the stage tonight as opener for both Third Eye Blind and headliners the Goo Goo Dolls, Carlton starts her set playing to a virtually only quarter-full seated arena, but ends up not thirty-five minutes later closing to double that. Culling from her debut album Be Not Nobody, Carlton’s multi-layered vocals give us ’Ordinary Day,’ ‘Unsung,’ ‘Pretty Baby’ and even a hamfisted, melodramatic cover of the Stones’ ’Paint It Black’ before culminating with the lead single, the piano-laden ’Thousand Miles.'

With their backdrop nothing more than a black curtain harboring the lit words ‘Third Eye Blind,’ lead singer Stephan Jenkins (wearing of all things a top hat) led his band of merry men out on stage to a heavy, rapturous bout of applause. Collectively wearing black T-shirts (save for the bare-chested drummer, Brad Hargraves) and jeans they got the crowd immediately dancing in their seats with songs like ”Graduate,’ ‘Losing A Whole Year’ and ’Jumper’ all from the brilliant ’97 debut, Third Eye Blind. By now the seats were filling up nicely and everyone was having a rare old dancing time. Even when the band delivered three new and completely unknown tracks from their soon-to-be released new album Crystal Baller (’Old Friend Coming Over,’ ‘Palm Reader’ and ”Invisible’) they didn’t falter in the slightest in their dance moves. Bringing the show over the finish line, Jenkins decided to stroll out into the crowd, top hat back upon his head. Standing atop a small box in the stairway and telling the crowd that he had to ”get up here with my folks”, he got the crowd to stand up before belting out ’Never Let You Go’. Mentioning that they had been ”gone for two years” and that ”you guys totally embrace us” the San Francisco-based quartet rounded off their powerhaus set by rocking through three more cuts from their self-titled debut, ’How’s It Gonna Be,’ ‘Motorcycle Drive By’ and ’Semi-Charmed Life’.

As the house lights shut off and the piped in generic music stopped, the huge red curtain that blocked any previous sight to the stage suddenly dropped and revealed one of the most breathtaking stage sets this side of 2002 ! Beginning their show with a mostly black stage setting with endless amounts of colored spotlights moving and grooving as if they needed Ridelin, it wasn’t long before the black back drop behind the drums was dropped revealing a much more enticing silver version. Mind you the continually illuminated and constantly moving three large, three smaller rings of Olympic-style origin were quite a feat to behold all their own too ! It was quite clear that the stage was meant to resemble a giant machine in working order. The image was just perfect.
Dressed in uniform black T-shirts and black jeans, John Rzeznik’s muscle shirt certainly gave him the impression of lead singer to those uninitiated few ! Culling immediately from their new album Gutterflower, the Northeast trio brought forth ’Big Machine,’ and ’Hold Me Down’ before sliding straight into, er, ’Slide’ and ’Black Balloon’ from the impressive ’98 album Dizzy Up The Girl.
Indeed, keeping the music flowing was only half of what Johnny R. was capable of tonight as his wanton need to expel his musical beliefs overflowed on more than one occasion. Just before they took the show any further, Johnny R. made it clear to the audience what he thought of shows like Fox’s ‘American Idol’: ”I want someone to get all these prefabricated bands off the air,” he voiced. ”No more ‘American Idol.’ Call them up and tell them no more prefabricated bands,” he continued. That now all said, they got back to their music and with the third and final backdrop now revealed (the cover of their new CD) from that new album brought us ’Here Is Gone,’ ‘What A Scene’ and ’Smash’ before closing the set with three hit singles in a row: ’Name,’ ‘Broadway’ and ’Iris.’
Coming back with statements like ”It’s always great to be in Detroit” and ”We thought we would only have one hit and now seven years later you guys are still supporting us”, the crowd just got noisier as the band welcomed back on stage Vanessa Carlton. Playing the track that they had performed especially for the Concert For New York tribute both they and Carlton sang a rousing rendition of ’American Girl’ which not only brought the encore to a wonderful finale, but the crowd to their collective feet.

Reviewed by Garret Urbaniak for Exclusive Magazine