By Chuck Cox
When most people think of taking a concert road trip, places like Red Rocks in Colorado, the Gorge in Washington or First Avenue and 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis, come to mind. The S.E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, does not.
But there isn’t anywhere else in the world I would have rather been last Saturday night than the sparkling new facility, behind the “Pine Curtain,” for the Matchbox Twenty show.
Let me explain.
I graduated from Spring Hill High School in Longview in 1987. Back then, pretty much the only entertainment for a teenager was to cruise up and down Highway 80, or to hang out at Monaco’s, a now-defunct teen club in downtown Longview. And if you wanted to catch a concert, you were probably going to have to head an hour east, to Shreveport, La.
So, the mere fact that little old Longview now has an actual quality concert venue makes me smile. I made a whole day of it, too. I ate at two of my favorite Longview restaurants — the Butcher Shop (for lunch) and Pizza King (for dinner).
I also got to go visit Spring Hill, which recently opened a new facility for the high school. The building I went to high school in is now the junior high. I also drove by where Monaco’s used to be. It was a truly wondeful day of nostalgia. It was everything a road trip, albiet a close one, should be.
Having seen Matchbox Twenty a couple of times, I knew the good folks of Longview would get their money’s worth from the headliners. With a set list filled with hook-filled hits and tracks from the band’s latest, North, Rob Thomas and the boys made it look easy in front of an enthusiastic crowd that made the show a sell out. The band played more than two hours.
As a cool side note, Matchbox Twenty played the Super Bowl XLVII pregame show, in New Orleans, the next afternoon.
The Belcher Center is starting to get a steady steam of shows. Jewel is playing there in April. I know I’ll be back to see more concerts in a town just discovering what it’s like to have big bands come and play there on a regular basis.
Matchbox Twenty Longview, Texas, set list
Feb. 2, 2013
She’s So Mean
How Far We’ve Come
Girl Like That
If You’re Gone
All Your Reasons
Sleeping at the Wheel
Put Your Hands Up
Back 2 Good
You’re So Real