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by John Staton

“Thanks for remembering.”

So said Goo Goo Dolls frontman Johnny Rezeznik to a star-struck Azalea Festival crowd at the band’s Trask Coliseum concert on Thursday. He’d just finished playing “Name,” one of several hit songs from the ’90s by the Goos the band delivered to a clearly enthralled crowd, which stood throughout much of the show and called for one encore.

But the performance more likely to stick in this concert-goer’s mind was that of opening act Collective Soul, led by the energetic performance of frontman Ed Roland.

Dancing around the stage and gesticulating like a shaman when he wasn’t playing one of two super-fancy white and gold guitars, Roland led Collective Soul through a collection of familiar, pulsating rockers that got Queen Azalea Lindsey Shaw dancing so hard she had to remove her crown.

Collective Soul played many of their hits, including “Shine” and ”The World That I Know.” At one point, the band lit through a medley of sorts referencing many of the great rock artists, including The White Stripes, Van Halen, AC/DC, U2 and Ted Nugent, while some of Roland’s on-stage movements recalled those of The Who’s Pete Townsend.

Before the music got started, the crowd was introduced to the Azalea Festival celebrities, with parade marshal Kim Munley, who helped stop the deadly shooting massacre at Fort Hood, getting a standing ovation before Shaw exhorted the crowd, which filled most of the seats in front of the stage, to “let the dance party commence!”

In between acts, Shaw took photos with Munley and members of the crowd, while Miss USA and Wilmington native Kristen Dalton hobnobbed.

In fact, Dalton shimmied and shook throughout much of the set by the Goo Goo Dolls, which featured a mix of familiar hits and promising new songs from the band’s upcoming album, “Something For the Rest of Us.”

Rzeznik had guitar issues — once he broke a string, another guitar didn’t work at all — but that didn’t seem to dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm. Once, he referenced the relatively minor sound issues by saying that if fans had any problems, they could find the solution in the back of the auditorium. “It’s called the door,” Rzeznik said as the crowd laughed. “Just kidding,” he added.

Festooned with earrings and wearing ripped-up jeans, a wife-beater and a green army jacket, Rzeznik sang well, particularly on “Can’t Let It Go,” a rock ode to obssession, and showed off his guitar skills on “Broadway.”

One young lady held up a sign that read, “Johnny — I will do anything to meet U.” Even chunky bassist Robby Takac, who sang lead on three songs, couldn’t escape Rzeznik’s star power. On the first song Takac sang, Rzeznik, accompanied by a spotlight, moved to each wing of the stage as the crowd on each side screamed for him.

But it was Takac who gave Wilmington the most love when he said the band had spent some time hanging out downtown before the show. “You guys got one hell of a serpentarium,” Makac said. “I will forever talk about the Wilmington Serpentarium.” (It’s technically the Cape Fear Serpentarium, of course.)

But the song the crowd was waiting for was “Iris,” one of the definitive tunes of the ’90s, which had the entire crowd singing along enthusiastically, and repeatedly, to the chorus of, “I just want you to know who I am.”

The Goos ended the evening with Supertramp’s “Spare Me a Little Of Your Love,” the second song of their encore and one of two covers the Goo Goo Dolls performed. (The other was Tom Petty’s “American Girl”).

All in all not a bad show, and one that delivered to the faithful everything they were wanting and expecting.

Source: http://compass.blogs.starnewsonline.com/11857/crowd-goes-gaga-for-goo-goo-dolls-but-collective-soul-turns-in-the-evenings-best-performance/
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