Goo Goo Dolls wax nostalgic, think forward in 20th anniversary album tour

The Goo Goo Dolls perform at the House of Blues on Oct. 17 as part of their 'Dizzy Up the Girl' tour. Rachel Hartman / The Tufts Daily

“It’s a 20-year-old album, what the f***? On one hand, it’s cool that it’s held up,” lead singer and guitarist of the Goo Goo Dolls Johnny Rzeznik said to a packed audience at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

“On the other hand, it’s like, ‘You’re old Johnny, what the f***?’ But what am I gonna do? B**** about it?”

In that moment, it became clear that the Goo Goo Dolls, who came together over 30 years ago, are younger than ever. On a tour commemorating the 20th anniversary of its most critically and commercially successful album, “Dizzy Up the Girl” (1998), the band has showcased an energy that caters to fans old and new.

The Goo Goo Dolls’ performance at the House of Blues was the 13th stop on their tour, in which their setlist includes the entirety of “Dizzy Up the Girl.” Robby Takac, the band’s other vocalist and bassist, noted that this tour is different from any the band has ever done.

We knew we were going to come out and play the whole album first — that was going to be the first thing we did,” Takac said. “And then we thought we had two ways to go about it after. We could go out and nail [the audience] with a few hits and be out of there, or we could go deep, deep, deep. Nervously, going deep is what we decided to.”

The depth of the Goo Goo Dolls’ discography is astounding: 11 studio albums, a string of singles and 34 music videos. The band has produced decades of musical content, including global success “Iris,” one of the top hits of the 1990s. The Goo Goo Dolls’ lesser-known hits include “Two Days in February” and “There You Are.” The band’s “Dizzy Up the Girl” anniversary tour explores the whole breadth of its music, providing a strong variety for fans to enjoy.

We actually close the show with our first single we ever put out, which is pretty wild,” Takac said. “It’s actually the song people know the least, but by that point, we’ve dragged them along that far where it’s just a big party. Everyone’s having a good time at the point.

By its conclusion on Wednesday, the concert truly was one massive celebration, packed with generations of fans screaming lyrics, dancing and simply enjoying the band’s infectious energy. The stage was set simply during the Goo Goo Dolls’ first set, a top-to-bottom performance of “Dizzy Up the Girl.” While the band was truly the centerpiece, a large framed version of the album cover hung behind them.

The Goo Goo Dolls aimed for authenticity in their performance of “Dizzy Up the Girl,” as Takac shared the context in which the album was produced.

We play it the way it originally sounded,Takac said. “Between ‘A Boy Named Goo’ [1995] and ‘Dizzy Up the Girl,’ Johnny had written ‘Iris’ for the ‘City of Angels’ [1998] soundtrack, which also had Sarah McLachlan and Alanis Morissette. We didn’t expect to get much notice from that situation, but our song ended up being one of the biggest on that record. We were walking into making ‘Dizzy Up the Girl’ already knowing that ‘Iris’ would be on the record and was already … a hit, so we definitely had a different vision of what was going on. And guys from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were hanging around in the studio and Snoop Dogg was down the hall with Dr. Dre, so our world was much different than it was prior to that record, for sure.”

Fast forward 20 years, and the making of “Dizzy Up the Girl” is still cemented in the band’s mind, as are memories of the ever-changing relationship between its founding members, Rzeznik and Takac.

[Our relationship] has changed as drastically as we have as people, and both of us are drastically different people than when we were 19 years old,” Takac said. “Some of the craziness that was in our lives in the years past has been removed through various stages, and I think it’s one of the reasons why we’re still here and still able to throw down. I really feel like our relationship is as solid as it’s ever been.”

Takac said that the Goo Goo Dolls’ music-making process has also changed significantly.

You probably couldn’t even recognize us as the same band from our first record,” he said. “Johnny didn’t even sing on our first record, quite honestly. We were a much different band. But we’re in a different place than a lot of people, and we grew up in the public eye. We were being documented musically, and in the first 10 years, we were still trying to figure out how to do it. In the process of that, we were learning to do it in front of people.”

After 30 years of maturity in the music industry, Rzeznik and Takac are now clearly masters of their craft, engaging the audience at every chance possible. In between songs on Wednesday, Rzeznik bantered with the band’s fans, talking about Boston and the Goo Goo Dolls’ history with the city.

“Boston is the first place outside of Buffalo we ever played,” Rzeznik said. “We were f***ing terrified of you people.”

At the end of its performance of “Dizzy Up the Girl,” the band briefly disappeared, while the framed album cover was taken down and a virtual screen was set up. Rzeznik returned to the stage, performing some older hits with a virtual version of himself. Virtual Rzeznik and real Rzeznik had a funny banter, with the former sometimes playing the guitar while the latter sang. It was a light-hearted break in the concert, adding a touch of the future to the band’s timeless performance.

The audience enjoyed every moment, laughing with Rzeznik and Takac and rocking to every song as the Goo Goo Dolls finished out the concert with some of their older hits and a spotlight of their touring band members. At one point, Rzeznik casually tuned his guitar during one of the songs. It is this simple humanity that makes the Goo Goo Dolls accessible and understandable — sure, they are performers, but they are people too.

As for the band’s future, Takac revealed that a new album is on its way.

We’ve got about half of it written, maybe a little bit more,” he said. “We have another live release coming out, too. Very, very soon, we [will] have a huge announcement about something we’re doing next summer, and that’ll be exciting.”

While there is great anticipation for the Goo Goo Dolls’ next steps,  their “Dizzy Up the Girl” 20th anniversary tour is nothing short of nostalgic — a perfect blend of old hits, fan favorites and all-around fantastic live performing. It is a reminder that the band is still growing, still learning and always ready to put on a crowd-pleasing performance.


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