Matchbox Twenty• w/ Matt Nathanson• June 3, 2023• USANA Amphitheatre
Reviewed by: Nate Bonney
Photographed by: Jim Trocchio
Matchbox Twenty finally played Utah on Saturday the 3rd of June. They originally were set to perform on Sep. 13th, 2020. Due to the covid pandemic, they postponed their tour for 2020. They had dates for 2022 but due to MB20 family member’s high risk to covid, they again postponed the tour to the spring of 2023. So finally they got to show us an amazing show!
The original opener for the show was The Wallflowers. Since the postponement, they snagged the talented Matt Nathanson. I saw him perform live a few years back and he always seems to know how to engage the crowd. Matt started with “Giants” from his 2015 album Show Me Your Fangs. It’s a great energetic song to start with and there was a great reaction from the crowd.
His next few songs were “Run”, “Way Way Back”, and a little cover from of “Highway to Hell,” by AC/DC. Matt Nathanson isn’t one of those performers that just stands there and plays his songs and waves and leaves. By the time he was halfway through his set, the atmosphere was more lively and accepting of an opener that people recognized his music but not his name. Matt would constantly joke about this since he probably gets reminded of it a lot.
Matt Nathanson’s music is scattered through out T.V. shows and movies and by his mouth “If you find yourself at the Home Depot, and hear this song……. It’s Matt Nathanson, and if you find yourself at the band and hear this song….. it’s Matt Nathanson.” His light heart jokes won the spectators and by the end he had them standing. He was off the stage running through the audience and people were cheering.
Unfortunately, the Lighting for Matt’s set, as well as other openers who play at Usana isn’t really the best. It’s not until halfway through they start to use anything because you can barely see it because of the direction of the amphitheater and the sun not yet down.
Matt continued with “Faster,” “German Cars,” “Used To Be,” and Bill Murray.” He did a few more covers and a tribute to Tina Turner and Whitney Houston with a medley and crowd engagement with the songs “I Melt With You” (Modern English)/ “Room @ the End of the World” (Nathanson) / “What’s Love Got To Do With It” (Turner)/“Wanna Dance With Somebody.” (Houston)
The last song he performed was one of his most notable hits. The one that he says will be on Grey’s Anatomy and be playing in the Home Depot. He signed off by giving thanks to Matchbox Twenty and apologizing that he wasn’t the Wallflowers but was a huge Jakob Dylan fan.
After the takedown of Nathanson’s set and the setting up for Matchbox Twenty, the sun started to go down and the clouds/sunset was, and always is, amazing at USANA Amp. Then rolled in a cooler breeze that made it good for a jacket. Quite different from most June evenings this time of year.
Now time for Matchbox Twenty. The lights when down and the band came out. The first song they played, “Friends,” comes off their latest album Where The Light Goes. It’s a very powerful song, musically and lyrically. They had some extra drummers come out in marching band style and had a very powerful opening song.
For their second song, they performed “How Far We’ve Come,” off of their 2007 album Exile On Mainstream. Again, another strong powerful upbeat song that gets the crowd cheering right from the get-go. They then continued with a way back song “Real World” off of their first album “You or Someone like you.” It is probably one of their most noted songs being from their first album and the first track. If you’ve been listening to them as long as I have you would instantly know this song.
Rob Thomas is probably one of a handful of artists/singers that is so engaged in his music that you can see it and feel it. He’s not just standing there, he goes from one side of the stage to the other. Their music is always so strong and emotional. Just like in the song “Disease” that they played next.
The benefit of having a group that has been around for some time is the blessing of hearing all the hit songs from their many albums. And enjoying their new work scattered throughout their set. “Wild Dogs,” “All We Need,” “She’s So Mean,” “Queen of New York City,” and “Hand Me Down,” were all played right in a row.
Then Rob lead guitarist Kyle Cook did a quasi-acoustic version of “If You’re Gone.” You have to appreciate music groups that keep the same melody but can change the music and make it different. If you came to hear that song specifically you wouldn’t be disappointed.
Rob went on to explain and apologize for their postponement of the tour for the last three years. He touched on the pandemic but didn’t mention too much of his personal life. His wife suffers from Lyme disease for a while now and he makes the sacrifice to juggle his career and take care of her. So the group takes extra precautions while touring so she stays safe. He gave thanks to all their fans for being here with them and staying with them and showing up for the show.
They continued to play more hit songs from “Mad Season,” “These Hard Times,” “Bent,” and going way back again to “Back 2 Good,” which had amazing lighting, probably some of the best I have ever seen, and “Long Day.”
They finished and walked off but of course, the encore came with four more songs. “3 A.M.” “Unwell,” “Pushed,” and finishing it off with “Bright Lights.” So many great classic songs from a band that a lot of us grew up listening to and despite their hiatuses off and on they still get together and make new music that sounds just as good as when they first started playing on the radio. If you ever have to opportunity to see them live you won’t be disappointed.