Train and the Goo Goo Dolls Turn Up The Heat In Charlotte
The Summer 2019 Tour Brings Love, Laughter, and Most of All Music To The Queen City
There’s something about summertime and music that makes for a perfect combination much like milk and cookies or peanut butter and jelly. Nothing is quite like the experience of attending an outdoor concert on a warm summer night. It offers up the perfect opportunity to wax nostalgic about summers that are long gone as we relive those memories nearest and dearest to us. Of course, it also gives us a chance to make new memories as I’m sure countless music fans did this past Friday night as Train and the Goo Goo Dolls rolled into town, making a stop at the PNC Music Pavilion.
With dark clouds overhead and sprinkles already hitting the windshield of my car, the weather was definitely threatening as I arrived at the venue. Since I was a bit early, I decided to stay put in my vehicle for awhile and wolf down a slice of pizza that I stopped and got at the gas station around the corner, keeping my eyes glued to the venue’s social media pages to see if the show would be delayed. Fortunately, after what appeared to be a few, very close lightning strikes, the clouds began to break and slowly drift south, or maybe it was north. Either way, they were going away from the venue and the venue doors would open on time. As the saying goes, the show must go on!
The venue was starting to fill up nicely as singer Allen Stone kicked off the night of music. Stone first began singing in church at the age of 3 and his style lends itself to a soul or rhythm and blues style. Stone’s vocals were spot on and his voice carried clearly across the venue and his backing band was full of talented musicians in their own right.
His songs like “Unaware” often serve as political or social commentary but Stone has a way of also pulling on your emotions. He possesses a voice that would have melted my grandmother’s heart as she always had a soft spot for the soulful pipes of the crooners.
My favorite of the set was a cover of “Is this Love” by Bob Marley and The Wailers as Stone did his super cool walk from one side of the stage to the other.
He was a great addition to the tour and I would encourage fans to get there early enough to check him out.
Next up were the toast of Buffalo, New York, the Goo Goo Dolls and it was clear by the sea of Buffalo Bills shirts in the audience that a strong contingent of Western New York transplants came out to hear their hometown heroes, myself included. The band’s self-titled debut came out in 1987 but it wasn’t until their fourth album 1993’s Superstar Car Wash and the singles “Falling Down” and “Cuz You’re Gone” that things really started happening for the band. Their 1995 record A Boy Named Goo and the song “Name” took the band to an entirely new level of success.
They followed up with the enormous hits “Slide” and “Iris” from 1998’s Dizzy Up the Girl making the band a household name and solidifying lead vocalist Johnny Rzeznik as a songwriting powerhouse. The band’s latest release is the single “Miracle Pill” with a new full-length album coming sometime this fall. Tonight they would celebrate their music with a set that included their latest single as well as all the requisite hits.
The screams began before the band even hit the stage as fans up close could see Robby Takac waiting in the wings before they ran out amidst a bevy of lights and a giant LED screen that lit up the rear of the stage, changing images throughout the evening.
Rzeznik was in fine form as he sang, spun, and played his guitar, changing instruments often bringing out an older electric guitar for “Big Machine” and of course an acoustic for “Slide.” Robby was as always all over the stage as he ran and kicked clad in his normal rolled up jeans and bare feet.
The audience was loving every minute of it and erupted when black balloons came down for of course the song “Black Balloon.” People were singing, dancing, and sweating up a storm(it is July in North Carolina after all) and having the time of their lives. The new song “Miracle Pill” fit right into their set with fans already seeming to be familiar with it and singing along. The biggest reaction of the night came during “Iris” with a poignant sing along, creating one of those summer memories that fans will never forget. As the band closed their set with “Broadway,” the only complaint was that it was already over as I simply didn’t want the music to end.
After a short break, it was time for the Trainiacs to get on their feet as the LED screens lit up for a short intro before Train came out hard with “Calling All Angels.” Led by lead vocalist Pat Monahan, Train has been topping the charts since their self-titled 1998 debut album and the hit song “Meet Virginia” which was followed by 2001’s Drops of Jupiter which earned the band not one, but two Grammy awards in 2002.
In recent years, the band has released some interesting stuff with a holiday album in 2015, Christmas In Tahoe as well as 2016’s Train Does Led Zeppelin II. Their latest studio release A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat was released in 2017 . Train’s set was an outstanding mix of their music accompanied by a dazzling light show. It may be over twenty years since their first album, but Monahan’s vocals are still spot on and his showmanship is second to none. He interacted with the audience all night, making the large venue seem intimate and homey, something not so easily done.
At one point during “It It’s Love,” the video screens displayed candy conversation hearts and Monahan took selfies and videos with fan’s cell phones, tossing them back out to the crowd who made sure the phone got back to the right person.
The band sounded amazing with keyboardist Jerry Becker alternating between his seat behind the piano and rhythm guitar. Lead guitarist Luis Maldonado was on fire and did a little extended solo after Monahan egged him on. During “Marry Me,” the video screens focused on couples in the audience, almost like a kiss cam with Monahan joking that a certain husband didn’t look too happy and that it was going to be a long ride home for him tonight.
The band brought out Allen Stone to join them on “Bruises” and Johnny Rzeznik came out to help sing and play guitar for a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl.” Many got a little teary eyed as Monahan introduced “When I Look To The Sky,” talking about those we’ve lost as the crowd lit up the venue with their phones. It was an amazing night, capped off with the audience singing and clapping along to “Play That Song,” Train’s twist on the Hoagy Carmichael classic “Heart and Soul.”
The night wasn’t over yet as Train returned to the stage for a two song encore that included a cover of Queen’s “Under Pressure” and a dazzling display of sparkling pyro and confetti cannons for “Drops of Jupiter.”
Before you could take another breath, it was over far too soon, leaving us with wonderful memories of the summer of 2019 and looking forward to many summers and concerts yet to come. In the words of one of my favorite Goo Goo Dolls songs, “Yeah, you’re gone, and I wish you’d come back.”
For tour dates and ticket information, click here.