Rob Thomas plays “smooth” Wang show

By Kate MacDonald

If anyone ever tries to claim that Carolina Liar, One Republic and Rob Thomas aren’t among the best rock performers out there or that any one of them couldn’t carry a show by themselves, they’d be sorely mistaken. Carolina Liar and One Republic opened up for Thomas Monday night at the Citi Performing Arts Center (aka The Wang Theater) in Boston and were equally as entertaining as Thomas. It cannot be stressed enough how underappreciated these three acts are.

The show was, in part, a product of its environment. The Wang Theatre is probably the most gorgeous venue in the city, with its high ceilings, pillared doorways and Rococo style decoration. It looks as if you’ve left the U.S. and are standing instead in the gilded halls of the Paris Opera House. The architecture did not go unnoticed by the performers. Ryan Tedder of One Republic called attention to the Wang’s beauty (while Rob Thomas made fun of its name).

The audience was filled with mostly women in one of two age brackets, teenage or middle aged. Prior to the show, the place was buzzing; strangers talked to strangers about their experiences, which ranged from having followed Carolina Liar around to one woman who was seeing Rob Thomas for the fifth time.

The lights went down and L.A-based band Carolina Liar took the stage, fronted by the energetic Chad Wolf. His enthusiasm and interaction really pumped up the crowd. The acoustics of the venue only added to their success; everyone’s chests were literally vibrating to the beats of the bass and drums. With vocal stylings ranging from rasps to falsetto, Carolina Liar performed summer hits “I’m Not Over” and “Show Me What I’m Looking For” as well as others from their debut “Coming To Terms.” They came off as genuinely nice guys, which was confirmed by many when they stood in the lobby meeting and hugging fans after the show.

Their set was nothing short of amazing. As concert-goer Trish Christiani said, “It was worth it just to see them, never mind actually staying for Rob [Thomas]!”

One Republic kept the energy high with their upbeat performance. Their only downfall was that many of the powerful guitar and bass lines actually overshadowed lead Tedder’s voice, making him almost inaudible at times. This was surprising, as he let out almost Adam Lambert-like screeches from time to time. When he was easily understood, it must be noted that he had the voice of the next Justin Timberlake. The band performed an emotional version of “Stop and Stare,” the Beck-esque head bobber “Everybody Loves Me,” and their new single “Secrets.” Over the course of their eight song set, each band member (except the drummer) switched instruments at least once, proving their musical prowess.

Keeping with Carolina Liar’s way of communicating with the audience, Ryan Tedder shouted before a song, “Don’t keep up with the Joneses, it ain’t worth it.” Neither opener did.

It took one man to bring everyone in the audience to their feet. When Rob Thomas took the stage to perform “Fire On the Mountain,” not one person was left sitting. This pattern continued for almost the whole two hour performance. He crooned, danced and hammed it up in front of a three-paneled back screen which changed pictures and patterns depending on the mood of the song.

“Man, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready to make some music tonight,” were the first spoken words out of Thomas’s mouth after a non-stop string of three semi-unknown songs. Thomas would go on performing tangents, sometimes going for five or six songs without taking even a moment for a drink, which was much needed, seeing as how he sweated completely through his shirt within the first half-hour.

During more songs than not, even unreleased tunes, the audience was singing along loudly. This was seen during his most upbeat song, “Lonely No More.” Everyone bobbed up and down to the beat, and even one of the burly security guards was swaying to the beat. During the next song, “Mockingbird,” another guard kept turning around, seemingly mesmerized by Thomas’s performance.

If the audience’s response wasn’t testament enough to the electric atmosphere, even the guitarists and background singers were dancing, laughing, clapping and having a great time. Music was the most important element of the evening; Thomas stopped an ethereal “Natural” mid-song to hand the only other person on stage a different guitar because it didn’t sound right.

Thomas called members of Carolina Liar and One Republic on stage to play instruments and sing many times. They covered a few country hits and even attempted a soft-rock version of Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark.” It was amazing to see older folks and younger teens dancing to a great version of The Boss’s hit.

Rob Thomas successfully kept the audience’s attention through the massive set, avoiding the lull that hits even the greatest performers, both before and after the audience-prompted encore. He swayed seductively across the stage and jumped around with the energy of a little kid. Some other well-received songs included “Cradlesong,” an acoustic version of “Smooth” and “Her Diamonds.” It would be surprising if even one person did not sing to “Her Diamonds;” the audience’s volume even overtook Thomas’s at points. This reaction seemed to be the norm.

“We’re here just for the music – to celebrate the time he have,” shouted Carolina Liar’s Chad Wolf early in their portion. Celebrate they did, in their show-stealing set.

Thomas echoed their sentiments in saying, “We wanna be the house band for your good time tonight!” Thomas really made his concert about the pleasure of the audience. No matter the price of the tickets, the experience was absolutely priceless for everyone in the crowd.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]