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The Goo Goo Dolls with Ryan Star opening at the Ryman Amphitheatre in Nashville, TN.

The Ryman slowly started to fill in for the pre-show but as start time approached it was obvious that the show wasn’t going to be a sellout.  Ryan Star led off the night with his high energy set.  You may remember Ryan for his participation in the CBS show Rock Star: Supernova.   He was jumping on the monitors and laying out great vocals.  Obviously this was one time when sound check really paid off because the music and vocals were well dialed in.  Ryan’s song Breathe was the standout of his set.

The audience was really enjoying Ryan’s music but you could tell most came to see the Goo Goo Dolls.  The less than sold out crowd sounded like a packed house when the Goo Goo Dolls took the stage.  It was then a non-stop singing fest where the audience was singing each song, word for word, with the band.  John even took several opportunities to point the mic out at the crowd and the house lights came up as the audience met the challenge easily.

The sound was a little mottled and wished it had been better mixed at the board for better sound. Some songs I didn’t even recognize immediately but I must admit, I have listened to a lot of Goo Goo Dolls studio music where there’s always going to be better control over the sound.  By the last half of the concert the sound was better which may have also been due to songs consisting more of their ballad type songs where Rzeznik’s voice could fly.

Rzeznik spent time talking with the audience about being in Nashville and the fact that Nashville is filled with artists and that the whole town is pretty much got that vibe and he was digging it.  He also took time to mention a sign up table in the lobby that he was supporting a non-political movement where we could try to regain our democracy from the corporations.

Robby Takac took over the lead vocals on a few songs and they were mostly head banger fare with very distorted sound.  I personally enjoyed Rzeznik’s voice more.  Though Brad Fernquist is listed in the band list as rhythm guitar he really shone delivering lead guitar licks!  His mando playing on “Iris” was hauntingly fabulous!  Mike Malinin delivered on drums keeping it all going through the night.  Korel Tunador shared keyboard, guitar, saxophone, and backing vocal duties.

John Rzeznik still looks like the twenty something rocker belying his age of 46 years.  Hard to
believe the Goo Goo Dolls started back in 1986.  Rzeznik’s voice is still got that signature pitch and all his vocals were accurate.  He stayed engaged with the audience and there was a definite feedback both ways throughout the set.  “We Are The Normal”, “Name”, “Better Days” kept the crowd pretty excited.  All the words to these songs were sung by all as if the Ryman was a church again and the audience was getting their religion.  Though not the last song in the set, the signature Goo Goo Dolls song “Iris” really brought the house down.

It was kind of sad that the Ryman was not sold out on this mild Monday evening in Music City.  But living in Music City means that on any given night, you must choose from many top artists performing on the same evening.  I’m counting myself fortunate to have been at the Ryman tonight.
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