Concerts: Plain White T's and Rob Thomas at Mountain Winery (Saratoga, CA)

This time I wore the stripes.

Mountain Winery in Saratoga, California is one of my favorite venues. You drive up a twisty path and arrive high above everything around you, with breathtaking views. But more than that, it's like being on another planet. And though it's a large enough arena, it feels very intimate.

The Plain White T's opened, none of them wearing plain white t's at all, which I find to be false advertising. Would it be too precious if they did wear them? I don't know. I'm not sure about the politics around naming a band after an item of clothing.

Not a white tee among them.
I'll go ahead and admit I don't own any of their albums, though I've enjoyed some of their songs on the radio. Some but not all. In fact, that "Hey There Delilah" song, which is probably still their best known, is one that really irritates me. But I knew there would be no escaping it, and indeed they closed the set with it. I, for one, prefer the more upbeat. "1, 2, 3, 4" is a good one, and "Should've Gone to Bed." In truth, they put on a good show and were working hard for it, too; it's tough to be the opening band. You're almost never the one people came to see, and a lot of seats are usually still empty when you start. Tom Higgenson called people down to dance in front of the stage, hoping to get some energy going, and that helped.

Rob, meantime, put on as good a show as he ever does. This tour has been fraught with acute allergy attacks and—affecting last night's show—band member emergencies that prevented them from playing anything but the single "Trust You" from the forthcoming new album (which Rob says is due to drop in August). That was disappointing, as I was looking forward to the new stuff, but Rob still put on a robust show. He's a fine entertainer, and a large part of that is he genuinely enjoys it but also doesn't take it for granted. It's clear he's grateful for his fans and the opportunity to do what he loves, and it's equally clear there's love and respect between him and his band. That makes him a pleasure to watch and be with for a couple hours.

(I gotta give up for Rob's drummer, too, in particular; Abe kills it.)

Not a lot of change-ups in this show. What I mean is, most things came out sounding more or less like the album versions, only live, and though Rob touched on some Elvis (doing a bit of "That's All Right" coming out of "Getting Late," like usual) and some Steve Miller (skimming "The Joker") he didn't do any one full cover song. He played "Rest Stop" and "3 A.M." and from there stuck to his solo album catalogue. Well, and he played "Smooth" of course. No piano for Rob this show, either.

Still and all, it was a solid outing, and everyone left satisfied, filled up on a great experience.

I've seen Rob perform (solo and with Matchbox Twenty) more times than any other artist, and I've seldom if ever been disappointed. But this particular show—and I think the venue plays a big part here—had particularly good energy. Thanks, as ever, Rob, for another wonderful night.

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