Soul Asylum
Chastain Park Amphitheatre
Atlanta
August 2, 1998
 
Setlist:
    I Will Still Be Laughing
    See You Later
    Somebody to Shove
    Black Gold
    Runaway Train
    Close
    No Time for Waiting
    Misery
    Just Like Anyone.  

Matchbox 20/Soul Asylum
Chastain Park Amphitheatre
Atlanta
August 2, 1998
Reviewed by Bruce Buckley
 
From the very beginning of matchbox 20's set, singer
Rob Thomas was looking strangely tense, pacing the
stage and waving a balled up fist in front of his
chest. Under the circumstances, one would think he'd
feel quite comfortable: This was the city where the
Lava/Atlantic act recruited lead guitarist Kyle Cook,
then later recorded its debut record, "Yourself Or
Someone Like You," which is lodged at No. 16 on The
Billboard 200 after 74 weeks on the chart. But Thomas'
tenseness was due to his desire: Instead of coasting on
the band's success, he is still sincerely tied to the
desperate narratives behind the band's hits.
 
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Such songs as "The Real World" and "Push" kept the
sellout crowd singing along as Thomas exorcised his
insecurities about personal relationships with raspy
intensity. "3 AM," in particular, demonstrated the
act's range, building from rhythm guitarist Adam
Gaynor's quiet acoustic fretwork to drummer Paul
Douchette's booming hits during the song's explosive
chorus. Meanwhile, erratic video images, streams of
rich lighting, and dense fog added to the track's
dramatic feel.
 
Band members also showcased some of their individual
talents with several non-album cuts. Cook soared on
"Tired" (the B-side of "Push") with an impressive
flurry of licks, while an ambient cover of Sinéad
O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" was given a spiritual
lift by the reverent organ work of newcomer Joey
Huffman. But the night's most intense moment belonged
to Thomas, when he delivered a solo acoustic encore of
"Rest Stop."
 
As the set drew to a close, the band ripped through the
single "Long Day," interpolating it with a cover of
David Bowie's "Fame." The tongue-in-cheek juxtaposition
reaffirmed that matchbox 20 hasn't let itself get
caught in the trapping of pop success after all.
 
Opening band Soul Asylum is another act that is no
stranger to success. The group sparked memories of its
post-punk prowess on tracks "Somebody To Shove," "Black
Gold," and "Runaway Train," the latter featured on its
1992 Sony album "Grave Dancers Union." Singer Dave
Pirner showed that he hasn't lost a bit of his on-stage
energy, continually flailing his body and flipping his
scraggly locks. Despite best efforts, however, the band
failed to turn the audience on to unfamiliar material
from its latest set, "Candy From A Stranger," or to
recent single "Close."
 
Bruce Buckley is a freelance journalist based in Atlanta.