Rare is the band that can captivate a crowd with a string of hit singles right from the start and still have plenty of surprises in store for the rest of the night. This was the case for the Goo Goo Dolls on Saturday, Aug. 19, as they returned to the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights for the second time in just over a year.
The band, led by co-founders John Rzeznik and Robby Takac, opened the concert with a bang, performing crowd favorites like “Broadway,” “Slide,” “Big Machine,” “Here is Gone,” and “Black Balloon.” The latter was accompanied by black balloons bouncing around the pavilion, creating a captivating visual spectacle.
However, instead of exhausting their repertoire of hits early on, the Goo Goo Dolls sustained the high energy throughout their hour and 45-minute set. With their trademark energetic performance, the band managed to squeeze more than two dozen songs into the night, leaving fans both satisfied and longing for more.
A Nod to Career Highlights
While last year’s show focused on promoting their latest album, “Chaos in Bloom,” this edition paid homage to the Goo Goo Dolls’ impressive 36-year recording career. The band showcased their multi-platinum album, “Dizzy Up the Girl,” which celebrated its 25th anniversary. Surprisingly, they performed six songs from this album, more than any other in their discography.
While the Goo Goo Dolls played plenty of hits, they also treated fans to some lesser-known gems. Prior to the Big Night Out Tour, the band surveyed fans online to find out which songs they wanted to hear beyond the popular singles. As a result, they included tracks like “So Alive,” “Dizzy,” “Run All Night,” and the Robby Takac-led “January Friend.” This thoughtful inclusion of deep cuts added a touch of exclusivity to the concert experience, delighting long-time fans and introducing new listeners to the band’s diverse catalog.
Standout Moments and Special Guests
Throughout the show, the Goo Goo Dolls showcased their versatility, delivering both intimate and grand performances. They stripped down the song “Sympathy,” with John Rzeznik accompanied solely by Jim McGorman on piano, creating a poignant moment. They also gave “Come to Me” a stripped-down but full band arrangement, showcasing their ability to adapt and experiment with different musical styles.
The concert was not without its lighthearted moments. Rzeznik kicked off the band’s first big hit, “Name,” with a solo performance before the rest of the band joined in. The frontman humorously acknowledged the scent of marijuana wafting through the crowd, creating a memorable interaction with the audience.
Some of the late-show highlights included “Long Way Down,” “Let Love In,” a captivating rendition of “Better Days,” and a seamless transition from “Tattered Edge” to “You Should Be Happy.” Marc Roberge from the opening act O.A.R. also joined the Goo Goo Dolls on stage to perform their tour single, a cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”
The concert concluded with the band’s chart-topping hit, “Iris,” which gained popularity with its inclusion in the 1998 film “City of Angels.” Rzeznik took a moment to acknowledge the band’s long history in the metro area, giving a shout-out to Saint Andrew’s Hall. The sold-out amphitheater was filled with fans who had been there since the beginning and will undoubtedly return for the Goo Goo Dolls’ next visit.
Opening Act Excellence
O.A.R., the opening act for the night, proved to be a solid tour partner for the Goo Goo Dolls. Their sun-soaked 75-minute set showcased their expansive, jam-band aesthetic, complementing the Goo Goo Dolls’ polished performance. O.A.R., with their 26 years of material, delighted the crowd with tracks such as “Shattered (Turn the Car Around),” “Love and Memories,” and “This Town.” However, their real strength lies in their ability to stretch out and explore, as they did with songs like “Miss You All the Time,” “Place to Hide,” and “Hey Girl.” As the set came to a close, fans filled the air with tossed playing cards during the band’s performance of “That Was a Crazy Game of Cards.”
O.A.R.’s Marc Roberge, left, and Jerry DePizzo perform Saturday night, Aug. 19, at the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights (Photo by Chris Schwegler/313 Presents).
The Goo Goo Dolls’ concert at the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre was a testament to their enduring talent and ability to engage a crowd. With their impressive catalog of hits and deep cuts, they managed to thrill fans old and new alike. The night was a celebration of their illustrious career, with special moments and surprises woven into every performance. Their partnership with O.A.R. added an extra layer of musical excellence to an already unforgettable evening.