Sound: With undoubtedly a bit of marketing savvy behind its release, Rob Thomas' latest DVD Something To Be: Live At Red Rocks arrives on shelves a good three years after the original performance not to mention two years after it appeared on the PBS show Soundstage. The concert date (June of 2006) is really secondary when you consider that Thomas is likely wanting to jump on any momentum gained by his sophomore album Cradlesong, which also was released on June 30. Regardless of why it is just now being made available to retailers, Something To Be will not be a disappointment to Thomas' fans. Although a solo concert, it features pretty much all of the big Matchbox Twenty hits and displays Thomas in the best possible light.
Matchbox Twenty's material has always been on the mellower side of the rock scene, and the Red Rock concert emphasized that stylistic choice to a greater degree. The vast majority of songs, even the usually upbeat ones, are reined in and morphed into something a little more laid back. Yes, the opening number Something To Be and This Is How A Heart Breaks are a few examples that are bursting with energy, but more often than not you'll see Thomas with just a keyboard or acoustic guitar. While the concert versions usually stray for the studio recordings, the results are satisfying for the most part.
The song 3 a.m. a fairly upbeat offering from Matchbox Twenty is stripped down to almost a lounge feel. Thomas sets himself down at the keyboard, and it never has the big burst of energy that you hear on the radio version. Given the theme of loneliness relayed in the lyrics, the new musical take on the song actually fits. The other big change comes with the song Smooth, which instead of featuring Carlos Santana's trademark electric lead work, revolves around more of a classical Spanish format. It still has an exotic feel, only this time the acoustic work comes to the forefront. Other highlights include You Won't Be Mine (Thomas is at his most emotional during this song) and the unexpected cover of David Bowie's Let's Dance (which remains fairly true to the original). // 8
Content: The 95-minute, 18-song performance is solid throughout, and Rob Thomas rarely disappoints in terms of his enthusiasm and vocal ability. Don't expect much else in the way of bonus material, however. The only extra included is a music video of the song Streetcorner Symphony, which was actually filmed at Red Rocks. So essentially you're just getting 19 songs from the show. It's slightly disappointing to have no other viewing options, but again, Thomas' fans should be entertained by the show itself. // 5
Production Quality: Thanks to wise editing choices, varied camera angles, and the fact the concert was filmed in Hi-Def, you can be confident knowing that you're getting a quality product in the Something To Be: Live At Red Rocks DVD. The main focus is always Thomas, but the numerous musicians backing the frontman are by no means ignored. Mixed in 5.1 surround sound, Something To Be also shines as far as audio is concerned. // 10
Overall Impression: If you're a fan of Thomas' work in Matchbox Twenty as well as his solo endeavors, you'll find plenty of engaging moments within the Red Rocks show. Other highlights include Fallin' To Pieces, Ever The Same, The Difference, and Now Comes The Night. It's a mellow show through and through when compared with some other rock acts out today, so be aware that it's not a concert DVD for everyone. But if you've been following Thomas' career for the past decade and can appreciate a sleekly produced show, you'll be able to forgive the mellow approach and the fact that there aren't many extras attached to the main concert feature. // 8