Unlike the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night, these bands and the Plain White T’s knew how to clear the bases and leave fans at Fifth Third Ballpark happy.
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Every big rock ’n’ roll show has its up and downs, its big and small calamities, its compelling and not-so-compelling stage moments, and its varying levels of fan devotion – those diehards who come early just to pump their fists and shriek for the opening act and those who arrive late because they only want to party with the headliner.
Every big tour has those ups and downs, too, as I’m sure the Goo Goo Dolls, Daughtry and Plain White T’s could attest as they wind down a long summer of traveling and playing on the same bill night after night.
Some of those crises take place behind the scenes, from ticket hassles and meet-and-greet foibles to equipment glitches to Wednesday night’s very real crisis at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park when one of the Goo Goo Dolls seriously injured his ear earlier in the day, leaving officials scrambling to get him medical treatment so he could perform the headlining set with his band as part of the second night of the venue’s Summer Concert Series.
But by the time the lights go up and the amplifiers heat up and the bands start regaling their contingent of super-loyalists with their biggest hits, most of those hitches and malfunctions are quickly forgotten, especially when the crowd swells to a mammoth size (9,000 at the ballpark) and the weather is absolutely Hollywood-movie-set perfect.
And so it was on Wednesday, with Chicago’s Plain White T’s uncorking a buoyant 33-minute opening set amid a sun-splashed stage on the band’s final night of the tour, making sure they covered all their rock/pop fan bases with “Hey There, Delilah,” “Helium” and new tracks such as “American Nights” from the upcoming album of the same name.
Daughtry, led by singer Chris Daughtry, followed suit with a solid, fan-friendly, 1-hour-and-20-minute set of familiar alt-rock fodder, from “Over You” to “Home” to “Outta My Head” to “Wild Heart” (from the band’s most recent album), with some tunes drifting into that Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty territory – territory that actually works pretty well for a guy who first made a name for himself with his vocal delivery on “American Idol” and who does his best work on those sorts of rock power ballads.
Finally, after the sun had set to allow a bona fide, resplendent rock lighting show to envelop the stage, it was the Goo Goo Dolls’ turn to electrify its impressively large and fervent cadre of West Michigan fans, led by singer/frontman Johnny Rzeznik.
Hard to believe it’s been that long, but this rock band now has 27 years of music to cull for its shows, though it certainly focuses primarily on the most well-known, crowd-revving material in its inventory, from “Black Balloon” to “Name” to the single, “Come to Me,” from the group’s latest album, “Magnetic.”
Still, the band — whose vocals weren’t always as sharp as some might have hoped — did occasionally spice things up with punk-styled fervor that doesn’t seem out of place, while acknowledging and appreciating the adulation of its fans.
Wednesday night’s triple bill certainly wasn’t a perfect show, but it didn’t need to be.
Because as rock spectacles go, it delivered an upbeat, entertaining night of music that made it easy to forget about life’s little calamities, annoying glitches and mid-week doldrums … at least for a few hours.
The Summer Concert Series continues tonight at Fifth Third Ballpark with Theory of a Deadman, Halestorm and Grand Rapids’ own Fled Five. Get ticket information online here.
GOO GOO DOLLS, DAUGHTRY, PLAIN WHITE T’S: THE LOCAL SPINS PHOTO GALLERY
Photos by Anthony Norkus
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