Rob Thomas, the former Matchbox 20 singer, is here to correct all that. He is unthreatening FM rock's pin-up boy and has the trophies – the solo No1 US album and 10 million-plus sales with Matchbox – to prove it. As he struts across the stage of London's Astoria, a venue a tenth of the size he can normally command, his looks can't help but put you in mind of a dashing doctor on a daytime soap.
If there is a tiny but palpable sense of him coasting through the show, it is only because his hard-won loyalty, earnt touring the dives of America a decade ago, has afforded him the right to do so. The show couldn't be more professional, leaving you with a distinct impression of surface over depth, and it has to be said that some of his high-fiving, yo-dude-isms are as if the past 20 years of directional pop music didn't happen.
That said, an excruciating trawl through "Aint No Sunshine", complete with sub-Clapton axe solos, is the only real bum note of a likeable show. His rendering of the bleary-eyed Matchbox ballad "3am" and the Santana hook-up "Smooth", for which he was littered with Grammys, are both superbly drawn and greeted with hollering approval from the capacity crowd. He plays them like his own electric piano. "This is for you, my friends in London," he says, before launching into a curiously finger-picked rendering of Madonna's "Borderline".
If Rob Thomas is, basically, what happens to American Idol contestants when they grow up, there is as much high-street appeal to the guy as that might suggest. His solo debut, Something to Be, makes brisk business of getting to its hooks, rocks with just enough bombast and sounds precision-designed for maximum radio performance. It will come as no surprise if it snags the million record-buyers who found themselves caught up in the Maroon 5 web last year. Good luck to him.Reuse content