Train and the Goo Goo Dolls Bring Late Summer Fun To Blossom
August 20th, 2019
Co-headliners Train and The Goo Goo Dolls brought some late-summer relief to the verdant lawns of Blossom Music Center last Wednesday evening. The Goo Goo Dolls hail from Buffalo, New York; Train frontman Pat Monahan grew up in Erie, PA and has some fond memories of Blossom from way back in his youth. While Train may be a San Francisco-based outfit, Monahan addressed the sold-out crowd midway through their set, exclaiming that "thirty years ago I sat right up there, on that lawn, and saw a band that changed my life forever." He was talking about Steely Dan, and then they launched into an homage to the '70s power outfit by offering a raucous cover of "Reelin' In The Years."
And so went the three-hour gig as three different acts took to the stage. Opener Allen Scott, a trippy-dippy Left Coast hipster came out in a cotton set of pajamas, short-sleeved and tie-string shorts, with a brown winter hat. His irreverent, goofy appearance was in stark contrast to his pipes: He's got a soulful, R&B delivery that belied his Seth Rogen-like appearance. Keep an eye on this guy; his set really got the party started.
Buffalo-founded Goo Goo Dolls came out after a very short interlude. The late '90s hitmakers presented an hour-long set that hit all of the band's high notes and offered a few lesser-known gems in a rousing guitar-driven performance led by frontman Johnny Rzeznick. Offering a fourteen song set, the rockers started out the evening with "Stay With You" from their 2006 drop Let Love In.
Pulling several songs from 1998's Dizzy Up The Girl, the band played "Iris," "Slide" and "Broadway" from that album. The rest of the set was pulled from various other Goo releases, most notably 2002's Gutterflower and 2006's Let Love In, which makes sense as that's when the outfit was at the height of their popularity.
Saving the very best for last, Rzeznick and company saved "Better Days," the much-loved "Iris" and "Broadway" for last.
Keeping the energy going, a quick stage reset paved the way for San Francisco-based Train. Erie, PA-bred frontman Pat Monahan came out, sporting a million-watt smile, and tore Blossom's pavilion with a hundred-minute set that truly had to be a highlight of the 2019 summer season. Train is somewhat of a dichotomy; their studio recordings are run-of-the-mill pop, no better or worse than much of the early oughts' output of any other pop rock outfit. Their live shows are a completely different beast.
The energy that the band pours into one of their stagelight-driven gigs is off the charts. Monahan's vocals are always spot on and the way the band engages with the crowd is second-to-none. I saw them for the first time last year when they opened for Hall and Oates at the old Quicken Loans Arena; they made a believer out of me at that show. Here, their performance solidified them as an outfit that always brings their A-game, even on a hot late summer evening.
Dropping a massive eighteen-tune set, the band started off their portion of the show with their huge hit "Calling All Angels." Monahan gave a shout out to the audience, and thanked them for coming out to see them. A mid-set highlight was both "Save Me, San Francisco" and a cover of Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind," which saw opener Allen Stone come out to help out with some of the vocal duties.
As fave "Meet Virginia" was followed by the aforementioned Steely Dan cover, the outfit really started to amp it up. As the night wore on, Monahan's energy got even more intense. "Marry Me," a slightly-subdued version of that tune was immediately segued into a cover of Queen and Bowie's "Under Pressure." It was a great tribute; the dueling vocal duties were handled by both Monahan and local Akron native guitarist Luis Maldonado, who killed it.
After that, their perennial favorite "Hey, Soul Sister" got whatever few ramparts of the crowd on its collective feet. A surprise cover of Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" ended the festivities, with the band returning to the stage to offer "Drops of Jupiter."
Review and Photos by Brian M. Lumley