Concert ReviewNovember 9, 2011Reading Eagle

The lights went out at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center Tuesday night as the Goo Goo Dolls took the stage.

The crowd immediately surged to its feet and stayed there for the next 90 minutes.

Fronted by singer-guitarist John Rzeznik and featuring bassist Robby Takac and drummer Mike Malinin, the band crammed 23 songs into their set, including all of their Top-10 hits and a few I'd never heard but apparently almost everyone else in the audience had.

The band's commercial appeal is evident in the wide age range represented at the concert, from the teenager behind me singing every word to every song to the gray-haired ladies dancing at their seats.

And if you think the audience was filled with women, think again. There were just as many men of all ages who also knew every word.

The Goo Goo Dolls may have peaked in the late 90s but their fans are keeping the love alive.

Whether it was Top 10 hits "Name" and "Slide" or lesser-known songs sung by Takac, the crowd stayed on its feet, swaying to the music.

Though they started out as an alternative band, the Goo Goo Dolls find their groove in the smoother waters of pop.

"Broadway" and "Black Balloon," accompanied by a host of black balloons bouncing throughout the air, are perfect examples of Rzeznik's grasp of crafting pure pop while Takac's bear a little more rock influence.

While the sound was a little mushy for Takac's vocals and I couldn't hear the lyrics to many of his songs, Rzeznik's voice has remained strong, especially when he's singing the smash hit, "Iris" or playing an acoustic guitar while he solos on "Sympathy."

While Rzeznik didn't stop to talk much, he did have a brief conversation with a woman in the front row about the relative merits of Buffalo, which is where the Goo Goo Dolls call home.

If the Goo Goo Dolls have smoothed away all the rough edges, opening act Ryan Star has a few remaining to give his music some grit.

His songs have a distinct energy that comes across in his high-energy performance.

His nine-song set included a credible cover of The Beatles "We Can Work It Out," and his original songs make you sit up and take notice of his craft. Standouts include "11:59," "Brand New Day" and "Right Now."

"Breathe" has been getting some decent airplay, a perfect song for mothers and daughters to listen to together, while "Start A Fire" and "Back of Your Car" are songs guys won't have any qualms admitting to liking.

The highest compliment I can give Star is that I'm going to download his album tomorrow.