Rob Thomas with Plain White T's and Vinyl Station Rocks The Peabody

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Rob Thomas on "The Great Unknown Tour" at The Peabody in St. Louis 9/4/2015. Photo Credit: Jeff Ritter

The old adage “good things come to those who wait” was proven true once again on September 4, 2015 as Rob Thomas finally arrived in St. Louis. He had to cancel is tour stop earlier in the summer due to an illness in the family, which is more than understandable. As an apology of sorts for the hassle of having to make folks reschedule their plans, Thomas and his supporting acts, Plain White T’s and Vinyl Station, really cut loose with fun-filled, more-than-your-money’s-worth performance.  Apology happily accepted, Mr. Thomas.

Rob’s “The Great Unknown Tour” is in full swing in support of his new album of the same name, but this rescheduled stop in the Gateway City at the Peabody Opera House was the last leg of the tour to feature his supporting acts. When Rob came on stage in a simple black T-shirt and black jeans, it was obvious that there would be no pretentiousness. Not that I was expecting any—Rob Thomas always seemed a blue collar kind of guy from his early days with Matchbox Twenty and his collaborations with the likes of Carlos Santana—but some of the images on his merchandise table seemed more “glamour shots” than I’d expected. Then again, I’m a dude with no intention of buying a pretty picture of any performer so it probably didn’t matter one bit to the ladies. I know the lady next to me didn’t care—I think she may have actually bought one of everything. Right from the start, Rob connected to his audience, thanking them for juggling their lives to be there with him. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “let’s shut the doors and for two hours, just two short hours, let’s forget all the terrible stuff going on outside, let’s dance and sing and just live in the moment because we won’t have another tonight!” And for a bit more than two hours, we all did exactly that.

I don’t care to right down playlists at concerts. I prefer to enjoy the spectacle, watch the band, watch the audience, and look for subtle things. I can’t tell you that every hit you’ve ever heard featuring Rob Thomas was played that evening. I can tell you that every hit that I knew was covered. I could be wrong about this, but I think he opened with “Lonely No More,” his first solo hit. From there he and his extremely capable band rocked Thomas’ solo catalog, old Matchbox Twenty favorites, and even an unexpected but greatly appreciated cover of “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie. I can always support an act that covers Bowie. Every song was played with intensity and energy, though sometimes slightly rearranged, such as when Rob sat down behind the piano for a more plaintive version of “3 A.M.” I wish I could find some information on his band, because they’re worth talking about in detail. Alas, I can’t seem to find any.  I can tell you that while everyone played well, his guitarist was completely off the chain and his bass player not far behind him.

As is tradition with the last show on a tour, or even just a leg of it where opening acts are leaving, the guys from both Plain White T’s and Vinyl Station messed with Rob, coming out with gymnastic steamers and dancing around trying to throw him off his game. He turned the tables after the song and said, “That’s your big prank? That was monumental! I want to incorporate that into the show all the time from now on!” It wasn’t quite the effect of having about half a ton of packing peanuts dump on the stage while the Plain White T’s were playing. The T’s were fun, very chill and 100% focused on entertaining. Of course “Hey There Delilah” was their big number. The Peabody crowd gave them strong applause, but really seemed to appreciate the efforts of Vinyl Station the first band on the card. I never heard of them but was quickly won over by the tremendous emotion conveyed in singer/guitarist Matthew Thornton’s voice. All of their songs were strong, with interesting lyrics, but by far my favorite of their set was “Taken” from their new CD Still Open Eyes. It has a sort of Modest Mouse vibe to it, which I hope they’ll consider high praise. I’d happily watch them anytime they come near St. Louis. They messed with Vinyl Station too, though I think it had something to do with their tour bus.

The show started at 7:30 pm, which is a little early for most concerts, but they worked three acts and a long set by Rob Thomas through a brisk pace that ran until just after 11 pm. All three bands really went the extra mile to ensure that everyone had a great time, and I can’t imagine that anyone left the Peabody disappointed.    

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0