Train Brings Positive Vibrations to Blossom

Concert Review

It’s hard to hate a band like Train. While some of the San Francisco band’s pop hits veer toward the pedestrian with refrains like “hey, hey, hey,” the group has keen pop sensibilities with broad appeal. The audience at last night’s family friendly 90-minute concert at Blossom included children, adults and elderly folks. And the band catered to them all. You can see a slideshow from the concert here

Square-jawed singer Pat Monahan, who looked a bit like a younger Huey Lewis, nimbly pranced across the stage in his skinny jeans and sneakers as he leaned into the first row to take selfies with fans and used his own camera to scan the crowd and post a clip to his Twitter account. “I grew up in Pennsylvania and came to see concerts here that inspired my whole life,” he told the audience of close to 14,000. “I’m so grateful to be performing here.”

Backed by a six-piece band that included two particularly soulful sounding backing singers, Monahan and co. played songs from throughout the band’s 20-year history. “Is anyone old enough to remember this song?” asked Monahan as he launched into the catchy “Meet Virginia,” a hit from the band’s 1998 debut. The group followed it up with “Free,” a tune that sounded like on of those Melissa Etheridge anthems from the ’90s, and then segued into a cover of the George Michael hit “Freedom 90.”

For the folky “Bruises,” Monahan sounded a bit squeaky but he got back on track for the blues ballad “Save Me, San Francisco” and then adopted a soulful tenor for “Wonder What You’re Doing for the Rest of Your Life,” a tune that included a snippet of “The Loco-Motion,” for which the band invited a group of fans onstage to dance in unison. Monahan ushered openers Matt Nathanson and the Fray’s Isaac Slade to join him for a rowdy rendition of the Beatles’ classic “With a Little Help from My Friends.” The somber ballad “Marry Me” didn’t really resonate, especially given the up-tempo nature of the other songs. But the band bounced back with spirited versions of “Hey Soul Sister” and “Drive By,” both of which had audience members singing along in unison. You’d be hard-pressed to find a band that can more capably cater to a crowd.

Singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson and the Fray opened with energetic, feel good sets of their own that seemed appropriate for the concert’s positive vibe. Nathanson ended his 40-minute set with an exuberant rendition of “Under Pressure” that really rocked and the Fray finished its hour-long set with the bluesy “Love Don't Die,” which featured blinding strobes.