The Goo Goo Dolls, Hammersmith Apollo, London

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The Independent Culture

"The next song, I wrote for a movie," says the Goo Goo Dolls' frontman John Rzeznik halfway through their set before getting more specific and admitting that the angsty, wannabe anthemic "Before It's Too Late (Sam and Mikaelas' Theme)" features in the triumph of CGI over content movie, Transformers.

In their 20-years existence, the Goo Goo Dolls have travelled a long way from their days as an alternative trio influenced by The Replacements, Husker Du and The Clash and playing CBGB's to a theatre crammed with British kids who could just as easily have caught the band at V over the weekend. The Goo Goo Dolls did it under the radar for a good 10 years, until the beautifully brooding "Iris", was used on the City Of Angels soundtrack and catapulted the band from Buffalo, New York, into the American mainstream in 1997.

Watching Rzeznik ruffle his hair and throw himself into the opener "Long Way Down", you understand why he became a poster boy. Even when Rzeznik's propping up a cuddly panda thrown by a fan on his acoustic guitar, he's an engaging, believable rock star. The everyman lyrics of "Slide" and "Feel The Silence" create an instant bond with the audience while the chiming intro and melody of "Black Balloon" balance out the heavy-handed drug metaphors. Just as I begin to think the Goo Goo Dolls must fit nicely alongside Counting Crows and Matchbox 20, bassist Robby Takac steps up to the mike. Takac is the group's other songwriter and shows their punk roots in "January Friend" from Dizzy Up The Girl, their album which sold three million copies and still forms the majority of the set, alongside current release Let Love In. The insistent title track proves so generic it could be Snow Patrol but, when Rzeznik steps away from the big choruses, and plays favourite "Acoustic 3", the audience is spellbound.

They reclaim the epic sweep of "Iris" from the clutches of the dreaded Ronan Keating, who covered it last year, and unveil a huge back drop. It shows their name on a cinema marquee. The Goo Goo Dolls may have disowned their 2002 Gutterflower album but they're still looking at the stars.

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