Goo Goo Dolls play energetic mix of old and new music at the Roundhouse
You may know this band for their indestructible single Iris, one of the best of the last 20 years. It offers a punchy sentimentality – “And I’d give up forever to touch you” – but beyond the lyrics, as with any great song, is the genuine emotion understood by anyone who’s ever wanted to be loved: “I just want you to know who I am.” It’s deceptively simple and heartfelt, as fresh and raw today as when it was written. It is like any enduring hit, Jolene for instance – for all the millions of plays and thousands of performances, the lyric “he talks about you in his sleep” still cuts through and hits you with the feeling that originated the song. After all, before it was all-conquering music, it was a woman lying awake listening to her man fantasize about another woman. Iris, before it was an especially beautiful earworm, was a man entreating a woman to understand him. It’s that emotion that keeps the crowds belting out this song.
The band formed in 1986 in Buffalo, New York, and have sold over 12 million records since. They tour Europe off the back of their twelfth studio album, Miracle Pill. For those who grew up with their angsty 90s sound, this record is a logical evolution to reflection. Lead singer Johnny Rzeznik sings the album’s overarching message: “All of my life, all of my doubts, all of my ups keep keeping me down.” Rzeznik is a consummate showman, prowling the stage and showing love to his crowd.
The set opens with Indestructible, the first track from Miracle Pill, before evolving into the better-known stuff. It is a fittingly expansive and comprehensive set for a band with such a back catalogue: 23 songs and as many guitar changes. A well-received rendition of Black Balloon sees some literal set design, with a deluge of black balloons. And why not?
Fallin’ Down and Another Second Time Around, from 1993’s Superstar Car Wash, hark back to the band’s post-punk roots. Tracks such as January Friend and the new Life’s A Message offer Rzeznik the opportunity to rest his vocal cords as bassist Robby Takac takes to lead vocals.
The new material may not connect as much yet with the fans, but the evening ends with stunningly joyous renditions of Iris and Broadway, Rzeznik’s expansive vocals as arresting as ever.
Photos: Miguel de Melo
For further information and future events visit Goo Goo Dolls’s website here.
Watch the video for Black Balloon here: