by MIKE CHAIKEN
Rob Thomas is a rock star.
If the earring and skinny jeans weren’t enough to clue you in, the fact his name flashed on a computer billboard as you drove into the Mohegan Sun was another obvious hint.
And, of course, he was standing on stage before a packed house in the arena on Aug. 4. That was the dead giveaway.
However, Rob Thomas may be a rock star, but he doesn’t fit the mold of the aloof and untouchable rock star.
Let’s review for a moment from the rock and roll bible.
There are different kinds of lead singers in rock and roll.
There are macho men full of testosterone and swagger. Think Paul Rodgers of Bad Company.
There are the roosters and dandies. Think Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger.
There are the mysterios. Think Tool’s Maynard James Krebs and Evanescence’s Amy Lee.
There are the lead singers who stand before you like living gods, lofty and unattainable. Think Robert Plant or Stevie Nicks.
Then there are men and women who make you feel that they’re just like you.
Jon Bon Jovi is a prime example of this particular rock and roll sub-genus.
Yes, he’s a rock star. But he gives you the impression that he is just like you. He’s the guy in the bar band who let’s the drunk guy on the floor grab the microphone for a few notes of his favorite song.
Rob Thomas is like that. There is no attitude. He’s affable and charming. He’s your best bud who happens to sing in a rock and roll band.
Since he is “just like us,” Thomas was determined to show the audience that he works hard for his money, just like us.
The Aug. 4 show was a definite crowd pleaser. Thomas offered spot on punchy versions of hits such as “Her Diamonds,” “Streetcorner Symphony,” “Pieces,” and “Someday.” He got us all teary-eyed with his story behind a reworked “3 A.M.” from his day job band Matchbox Twenty. And he got the audience to dance with David Bowies big hit, “Let’s Dance.”
Everything Thomas delivered, upbeat or ballad, resonated just a little bit deeper for the adoring audience because it was delivered with so much sincerity.
Abby Anderson, Thomas’s current opener, was a good fit for the headliner.
Just like Thomas, Anderson gave off that vibe that she was just like us and was giddy with excitement over her opportunity to be opening for a big rock star. She seemed to enjoy every moment she had on stage. Although emanating from the country music universe, Anderson worked the bluesy babe vibe for her opening slot for Thomas. Anderson offered hints of Janis Joplin and Tina Turner in her vocal delivery. It was an energetic set with great originals and well-chosen covers that gives an indication that this tour may be just the launching pad for bigger and better things down the road for Anderson.
Chris Trapper offered a brief four-song set before Anderson. Giving off a Dave Matthews meets James Taylor-vibe as he stood alone with just a guitar, Trapper gave every indication that the Mohegan Sun audience only saw the tip of the iceberg of what this veteran performer can do.
I give Rob Thomas at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville on Aug. 4 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.