“Alright, let’s keep it back in 1996 for a minute,” said Rob Thomas, the lead singer and songwriter of Matchbox Twenty during their first live concert in Singapore on Nov 10.

The multi-platinum-selling American rock band went on to play “Real World”, one of its earliest chart-topping singles from the band’s debut album released that year, Yourself or Someone Like You. It catapulted the originally 5-member band to international fame. It was a huge commercial success, spawning hits like “3 A.M.” and “Back 2 Good” before going on to sell more than 15 million copies worldwide. 1996 also saw their album hit Diamond in the United States and multi-platinum in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Touring in support of their fourth studio album, North, Matchbox Twenty offered a 21-song set during their performance at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, proving that their songs, with its traditional American rock sound like Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters, are ageless classics that have stood the test of time.

“We’ve been here for a couple of days now and we’ve really been enjoying this beautiful, beautiful country that you guys have here, so we thank you so much for your hospitality,” said Robert Kelly “Rob” Thomas, the charismatic de facto leader of the band, who was casually dressed in an all-black ensemble of a T-shirt, vest and jeans.

“This is our last Southeast Asian stop so we want to make it special. So here’s our only goal, for all of us here tonight to remember one thing, that we have this time together right now… We’re never going to get this time back, so let’s make the best of it!”

The 4 band members, accompanied by a touring keyboardist and drummer, kept audiences engaged right from the start with the energetic opener “Parade”. There wasn’t a dull moment throughout their 110-minute gig as they continued with a string of hits like “She’s So Mean” and “How Far We’ve Come”.

Mid-way through the set, Thomas, who was born in Germany, introduced a song for the lovers, popular single “If You’re Gone”. Surprisingly, he didn’t expect the song to be featured on the band’s second album, Mad Season, much less gain any popularity. He also told Billboard magazine that he wrote it after he met his future wife.

When it came to “Girl Like That”, Thomas shared matter-of-factly that throughout his career, many girls have gone up to him saying that they felt the song was written for them. Instead of feeling flattered, he feels that’s “really unfortunate”, because “the song was written about a horrible (expletive)!”

Thomas, who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004, displayed his famous vocal prowess through the band-favorite “I Will”, a quiet little number off North.

He also took the time out to personally introduce each of the band members, and their chemistry, especially between Thomas and rhythm guitarist Paul Doucette, was undeniable.

The set came to a head with a splendid closing performance of “Bright Lights”, which started off with Thomas doing a grand piano solo, before he was joined by the rest of the band. Despite being 80 minutes into the event, the crowd was eager for more and cheered when the band returned for an encore.

They launched into songs like “Downfall”, and even did a cover of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by The Rolling Stones, never once letting the energy of the room dip.

The night was brought to climatic close with the signature song “Push”, during which the audience in the arena rose to their feet, rocking along to every line.

Kelly Wong, a 23-year-old teaching assistant said, “The energy in the stadium was simply electrifying during the closing song! My friends and I had such an incredible time.”

From Thomas’ strong, distinctive vocals, to his wicked hip gyrations and the impressive skills by the rest of the band – Matchbox Twenty certainly provided for a thoroughly enjoyable night.