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Matchbox Twenty / April 2013 UK Tour

By on Tuesday, 20th November 2012 at 8:30 am

Matchbox Twenty have announced a short UK tour for April 2013. Tickets go on sale Friday the 23rd of November at 9 AM.

The band released their latest album ‘North’ in September; read my review here.

Monday 15th April 2013 – Southampton Guildhall
Tuesday 16th April 2013 – London Hammersmith Apollo
Friday 19th April 2013 – Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Saturday 20th April 2013 – Manchester Apollo
Sunday 21st April 2013 – Glasgow Academy


Album Review: Matchbox Twenty – North

By on Friday, 31st August 2012 at 12:00 pm

‘North’ is American band Matchbox Twenty’s first full studio album since 2000’s ‘More Than You Think You Are’. Rob Thomas can’t even rest on the laurels of his Santana collaboration and megahit ‘Smooth’ because – wait for it – that was 13 years ago. You read that right. Thirteen years. I have wondered how many of the original ‘mb20’ fans are still with the band, but at the same time, I’m equally as interested in how this album is going to do, because let’s face it, they have a lot to prove in this post-Bieber / Gaga / Perry era.

The one review I saw online when doing research for my piece here took great glee in trashing this album by comparing it to 1996’s ‘Yourself or Someone Like You’, but the writer doesn’t seem to understand something very important that has become increasingly obvious in nearly all the new music I’ve heard this year from ‘returning bands’: in order to stay valid, you can’t stay in one place musically and not considering the current musical landscape when writing and recording a new album. The quartet – singer Rob Thomas, lead guitarist Kyle Cook, bassist Brian Yale and drummer Paul Doucette – are as familiar and comfortable to me as granny’s knitted sweater, but let’s see about this album’s merits (or downfalls), shall we?

It begins on an uplifting note with ‘Parade’, which feels like Thomas’ self-help leaflet to someone down on their luck who was withdrawn from society: “there is so much more than you can see, if you just stick around /all the streetlight’s secrets are whispering for you to come back out / oh no, there’s so much more that you need to work out / you don’t want that parade to leave you now”. I’m left wondering what this “parade” is; maybe it’s celebrity and the associated paranoia? That’s my best guess right now, but I think it’s a worthy question to ask the band if I ever am presented with the opportunity.

The album will no doubt be remembered for first single and American adult top 10 hit ‘She’s So Mean’ (single review here). It’s testament both to the tightness of this band and Rob Thomas’ songwriting that this is such a corker. Lyrically, it’s humourous, which appeals to both men and women. (Watch the interactive 360 video for the song below.) So does the infectious riff that pervades the whole song. It is now impossible to get it out of my head. It’s really brilliant. ‘Our Song’ is another exceedingly happy, poppy, peppy tune, extolling the virtues of being in – surprise! – a satisfying relationship, thanking your partner in being the person who’s been your rock and promising to be there for him/her forever.

‘Put Your Hands Up’ sees Matchbox Twenty trying to be the Script in its hip hoppy delivered lyrics, but with a dance beat. If this sounds absolutely crazy to you, I’ll assure you it’s not. To be fair, it’s a smart move – how else will the band get played on Radio1, right? Of all the songs on here, this has the best chance of having crossover appeal to the kids of the dads and mums around my age who are going to buy this album. Legally. Another track that has a similar chance? ‘Radio’, where the band channels the John Mellencamp brand of American rock ‘n’ roll. It has horns. What? (‘The Way’, featuring refreshingly different lead vocals from Kyle Cook, also feels very Mellencamp, but doesn’t feel completely right in the delivery.) An unfortunate title befalls ‘Like Sugar’; it’s not sweet and sounds like a stalker’s manifesto. But, again, this is the sound that the kids are eating up these days. It’s forgivable.

Lest you forget that Matchbox Twenty was also the band that brought us the timeless torch songs ‘If You’re Gone’ and ‘Unwell’, there are ballads here. You are rewarded at the end with ‘Sleeping at the Wheel’, which will probably go down in history in the same kind of category as those two songs I just mentioned. ‘Overjoyed’, while also borderline cheesy, manages to not breach the too cloyingly sweet warning level (in a way that is broached by the somewhat irritating ‘How Long’). Watch the video. You’ll see what I mean. And if you are a bloke and feel the waterworks starting to churn as you watch it, do not worry. There’s a highly ranked comment on YouTube that reads “I’m a dude and I cried”. It’s not a smudge on your masculinity. ‘I Will’ is another great ballad, except it drops the energy level of the whole album and is oddly placed right before ‘English Town’, an almost bluesy number that sadly doesn’t conjure up any happy images of the blighty I know. Wait a minute. Why is this track making me think Keane could have written it? Time to wrap this one up, I think…


While it’s not groundbreaking, ‘North’ doesn’t need to be for a band that has been together for nearly 2 decades. What they’re looking for are hits they can play to fans, both old and new, in the huge venues that will play host to them. Thomas says in the bridge of ‘Parade’, “when the music’s over, but the song stays in your head”, to bring attention, as if asking the listener if ‘North’ is worthy for a stay in one’s head. The answer, for the most part, is a resounding yes.


‘North’, Matchbox Twenty’s first studio album in 12 years, is out Monday (3 September) on Atlantic. Before then, you can have a cheeky listen to a stream here on iTunes for a limited time.


Single Review: Matchbox Twenty – She’s So Mean

By on Tuesday, 14th August 2012 at 12:00 pm

When we were in Liverpool, I asked John if he had heard of the band Matchbox Twenty. He said he hadn’t. I rectified that by sending him a link to the video for ‘Push’; I forget the exact wording but he considered it definitely cheesy. No matter. Matchbox Twenty is firmly entrenched in my musical roots.

In the early days of the internet, I wasn’t listening to BBC Radio and only had local radio to keep me company. Matchbox Twenty (then known as matchbox20) were as subversive as an American band could be signed to Atlantic Records; they were on a sub-label of Atlantic, Lava Records, and therefore didn’t have the big label backing or money of the artists on the Atlantic roster proper. But through university radio and music videos for ‘Push’, ‘3 AM’ and ‘The Real World’, all mainstays of Total Request Live on MTV pushed the band into mainstream popularity.

At the beginning, I appreciated them for their radio-friendly tunes and the singability of their songs. But my best friend in university adored them, insisting that I should have a further listen. I agreed to, but only if she was willing to give the Backstreet Boys a spin. (Yes, I know what you’re saying. But you have to think about the times and how dependent we were on the radio back then when you didn’t have even MySpace to surf. For the record, I still think they had good harmonies.)

Things appeared to be going pear-shaped for the band when singer Rob Thomas accepted an invitation to collaborate with songwriter Itaal Shur to write a song for Carlos Santana for his comeback album. Legend has it that Santana heard the song and decided it sounded better if Thomas sang it and bada bing, bada boom, there we have it, the origin of ‘Smooth’, which became this massive hit no-one in America or Britain (or the rest of the world for that matter) could escape from. It was everywhere. With such success without his band and starting his new life with new wife and model Marisol Maldonado, you wouldn’t have faulted Thomas if he left the band behind to pursue a solo career. (Which he did do for a time, rather unconvincingly, I’d like to note.)

Yet second album ‘Mad Season’ followed, with some absolutely beautiful songs ‘If You’re Gone’ and ‘Bed of Lies’. To our relief, they weren’t through…yet. Another two albums, bookended by hiatuses, came in the Noughties but I never felt they ever matched the heights of raw power of debut ‘Yourself or Someone Like You’ or the gorgeousness of ‘Mad Season. However, in 2012 we see Matchbox Twenty returning to the scene with a new album ‘North’ out in September, which has been preceded by single ‘She’s So Mean’.

It’s got a simple enough title – “she’s so mean”. There is no hiding the subject of the song. Is this going to be a sob story, or a ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’ kind of thing? I’m not sure where I should direct you first, to listen to the song or to watch the video. For the sake of this review, let’s start with the promo.


What is the first thing you see? Hipster jeans. In burgundy. My initial thought? Oh no. No no no. I don’t know if I can handle Matchbox Twenty becoming hipsters. However, as the screen shows the instruments being played, I breathe a sigh of relief. One thing that Rob Thomas has always been is someone who doesn’t take himself personally; I laughed out loud at the facial expressions he gave as the woman walked in and pushed his mike stand out of the way. Musically, the earworm of a guitar riff stands out as something you can’t help but take notice of.

Lyrically, it’s not Shakespeare: “all her clothes are on the floor / and all your records are scratched / she’s a one-way ticket and you can’t come back” are borderline laughable, but I would argue they’re laughable in a good way: the intention of this song is to have fun, and that’s what the lyrics are. Even if “she drinks Bacardi in the morning ’til it goes to her head”. I’d rather have this than any piffle from Katy Perry any day. The voice of Rob Thomas, as distinctive as it was in the days of Tabitha’s Secret, is pretty much perfect for a rocker – a bit of growl with lots of character, yet…still radio station pleasing.

In the video, the crazy woman being sung about breaks Brian Yale’s bass and pushes Paul Doucette’s drum kit on its side, later setting it on fire. Such things never would have happened in one of their music videos from the late ’90s, which were generally dark, dour, low key affairs. But then again, matchbox20 was a different band from the current Matchbox Twenty. As for ‘North’, their fifth album, they worked with producer Matt Serletic, the same man who saw them through their first four albums. While I don’t expect ‘North’ to give me the same feelings I had upon hearing ‘Push’ on the radio for the first time, the band, as a unit and as individuals, are completely different than who they were when they started. The pain and emotions that Rob Thomas wrote about as a young man have matured into those of grown married men. (Or at least I’m sure they’ve matured enough to realise they needed to write a good pop hook in order to get back into everyone’s graces.) And I sincerely doubt Pookie still answers to that nickname…

Easy to sing along to? Check. Impossible to get out of your head? Check. Monster guitar riff? Check. Poppy as hell? Check. This one ticks off all the important boxes for mainstream success. Matchbox Twenty, all grown up, is worth a listen. Trust me on this one. Especially if you’re like John and never knew about them in the first place.


‘She’s So Mean’, the first single from Matchbox Twenty’s fifth album ‘North’, is out now. ‘North’ will drop in early September on Atlantic.


Matchbox 20 / May UK Tour

By on Thursday, 31st January 2008 at 5:52 pm

Matchbox 20I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about them. However, Matchbox 20 have announced a five date UK tour in early May, playing arenas (so they must be fairly popular…)

Tickets are available at 9am tomorrow morning (Friday 1st February). Catch them at:

Wednesday 30th April – Cardiff international Arena
Thursday 1st May – London Wembley Arena
Friday 2nd May – Birmingham NIA
Sunday 4th May – Glasgow SECC
Monday 5th May – Manchester Apollo


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