The Goo Goo Dolls at the Hammersmith Apollo
From Buffalo, New York to Hammersmith, London, the Goo Goo Dolls still draw an eager crowd, treating them to a seamlessly blended night of old and new, of guitar solos and catchy melodies, and of two men who love the stage. John Rzeznik on guitar and vocals is a cool guy, laughing with the crowd while he deals with technical issues, acting like an old friend playing out of his garage and not the iconic Apollo. Bassist Robby Takac is simply a joy to watch, sizzling with rocky energy and interacting with the crowd throughout the night.
They kick off with Yeah, I Like You, a catchy tune from their recent album, Chaos in Bloom. They move on to Home, the two running across the stage with glee, before playing Slide: the first few chords alone earn them screams, proving it a clear fan favourite. Towards the end of the song Rzeznik takes out both of his in-ears, revelling in the full force of the crowd.
The band are really in their groove now, despite the tech issues at the start. From their 2002 album Gutterflower, they strum out evocative rock ballad Here Is Gone to a sea of raised hands. It is peak early 2000s sound, the kind that drenches you in vivid nostalgia, and the loudest song of the night so far as the crowd move and feel as one. Black Balloon follow as one for the fans; they’ve even blown up black balloons for everyone to keep in the air during the song – a very powerful few minutes.
They fluctuate smoothly between their stacked discography for the next few offerings. The funky Miracle Pill particularly thrills the crowd with its climatic ending, then they slow down with Sympathy, another ballad that earns arms around arms, and reminds listeners that the Goo Goo Dolls’ music is powerfully moving. It is followed by Name, a highlight of the night. Rzeznik is left alone onstage for a moment that feature’s just his voice and the crowd’s return, and it is striking. Broadway showcases each member’s musical talent nicely, the frontman even playing the harmonica to a roar of cheers.
The night ends, of course, with Iris; as the set’s most powerful by far, it’s a song of agonising love. The emotion crawls up the walls of the Apollo, shaking it with both hands, and the Goo Goo Dolls revel in it, letting the fans take the wheel and scream the chorus multiple times. It’s just them for the line “You bleed just to know you’re alive”, and it simply takes your breath away. The show is worth it for that moment alone.
Photos: Mike Garnell
For further information and future events visit Goo Goo Dolls’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Run All Night here: