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Betty Clarke
The Guardian, Tuesday 17 October 2006 00.13 BST

It is 20 years since John Rzeznik and Robby Takac founded the Sex Maggots in Buffalo, New York. Two days later, they became the Goo Goo Dolls. It was a fortuitous decision: the college rock band have since turned into pop perennials whose songs don't squirm but swoon. Celebrating not just their anniversary but the success of their 10th album, Let Love In, with three sold-out nights at the Empire, the Goo Goo Dolls' evergreen blue-collar romances are adored by teens, who sing, squeal and frantically wave banners at Rzeznik.

He plucks one from the crowd. It reads "Ronan Keating is a wanker", a reference to Keating's cover of the band's 1998 hit Iris. While Keating maintains he had permission to cover the song, Rzeznik claims otherwise. "I didn't even know who he was," he says. "He was in a boy band, right? We're a man band." Wearing a vest that shows off his tattoo-smothered arms, Rzeznik has the kind of masculinity found lurking in downtown pool halls, and he plays on his shabby charm. Having attacked Bush's warmongering, the singer claims he wants a British wife. "You don't have to worry," he drawls. "I gotta job."

It isn't his guitar skills that have kept him employed - most of the soaring lead solos are played by hired hand Brad Fernquist - but his voice. As all-American as apple pie, Rzeznik's rough tenderness transcends the repetitive rhythms and stagnant sentimentality. Strumming his acoustic guitar, he gives Iris wings, and stops the glossy Broadway being simply Springsteen-lite. Takac croaks all over the optimistic pop of My January Friend, his larynx in dire need of lubrication. But the key to Goo Goo Dolls' staying power is their gift for capturing moments and, as Takac joins Rzeznik for a surprisingly passionate take on Fleetwood Mac's Give a Little Bit, slapping his bass with confident sloppiness, and wide-eyed with unabashed pride, he sums up this one.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2006/oct/17/2
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