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On a typical winter’s night a relaxed crowd welcomed Buffalo’s finest to the modest surroundings of the O2 Academy. Headliners and superstars across the Pond, The Goo Goo Dolls have struggled to make as big a cultural impact in the UK.

Labelled as an adult alternative rock band, it’s a crying shame, maybe even a travesty, that in the eyes of many GGD will only be remembered as the band who sang that Ronan Keating song.

The fans that braved the wind and rain to pack out the O2 would have something to say about that. Every song was met with rampant applause and more often than not a singalong to every word.

Kicking the night off was Glaswegian formed quintet Unkle Bob, delivering their own style of melodic rock. The band rose to the challenge and performed remarkably well, winning over a very student-based audience by the end of the set. The band has already featured on US hospital drama Grey’s Anatomy, speaking volumes for the potential and talent they obviously possess.

The main event didn’t disappoint either as lead singer John Rzeznik and co. delivered a slice of delicious American pie that went down a treat. The set consisted of all the hits any fan could hope for with Black Balloon, Slide and Big Machine all receiving rapturous receptions.

Bassist Robby Takac took the lead vocals for a handful of tracks to prove this is no one man band and his work dovetailed perfectly with solid performances from drummer Mike Malinin and the guest backing musicians.

A stunning rendition of Name did nothing to help answer the baffling question of why the GGD are not as huge here as they are in America. For while we suffered Brit-pop in the 90s, our cousins across the Atlantic were enjoying 3 Doors Down and Matchbox Twenty.

So it seems timing is crucial and delivering worldwide smash Iris just before the encore brought the house down. A quick re-appearance for the tender Not Broken and Broadway wrapped the night up perfectly. For all the bravado that follows GGD in the good old US of A, it’s the UK that comes up trumps. Playing sell out stadiums and arenas across there is all well and good, but the chance to get up close and personal with one of America’s best live acts on home turf is one that is too good to be true.

Andy Spoors
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