With just a quick glance around it was clear that Friday night July 29 was date night at FivePoint Amphitheater in Irvine where adult contemporary pop band Train made a stop with Jewel and Blues Traveler on their AM GOLD Tour.  A near capacity crowd arrived early for the acts that filled up radio station playlists in the ‘90s and early 2000s.  Each of the bands on the lineup have easily accessible pop rock songs that definitely tapped into a nostalgic feel this night with the crowd.

While the hot late July sun still filled the stage, Hawaiian singer/songwriter (and contestant on The Voice Season 18) Thunderstorm Artis kicked off the show with a short set that included covers by Bob Marley and The Beatles. 

Blues Traveler followed and surprised the crowd with Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom” with podcaster and comedian Adam Carolla joining lead singer John Popper to lend a backing vocals  Mixing in lengthy blues songs along with their chart-topping classic hits, the band tore through an abbreviated set that included fan favorites “Run Around” and “Hook”.  Of course, Popper brought along his patented harmonica, blowing through songs while guitarist Chan Kinchla and his brother and bassist Tad Kinchla rocked through each jam.

In the mid ’90s it was impossible to escape Alaskan-born Jewel on the radio. The singer-songwriter has an impressive collection of hits, which she made sure to cram into her opening set during this tour in support of Train.  She yodeled her way through a few songs but made sure to include her well known hits like the set opener “Standing Still”, “Intuition” and “You Were Meant For Me” and before finishing up her 10 song set she tore through two of her most recognizable selections, “Foolish Games” and “Who Will Save Your Soul?”.

To say Train pulled out all the stops during their 90-minute set would be an understatement. During just the first three songs there was a confetti blast, t-shirt giveaway and cell phone selfies by Pat Monahan, the band’s charismatic frontman.  He later quipped that it was “amazing to get everyone back together” when referring to the return of concerts under the summer stars.  The lead single and title track off the band’s recent release “AM Gold” led off the show, leading into “Meet Virginia” which saw Monahan and his bandmates sign a shirt he was wearing before tossing it to a lucky fan in the front row. 

On “If It’s Love”, Monahan encouraged fans near the front of the stage to toss their phones up to him.  Throughout the song cell phones could be seen flying back and forth, each resulting in a great digital souvenir from the show.  On “Save Me San Francisco” a dozen giant beachballs were launched into the crowd, causing mayhem from the front of the stage to the top of the grandstands while stage-based fireworks illuminated the night during “Calling All Angels”. 

With each new song you had a ‘what’s next?’ feeling.  Jewel made another appearance and helped give the crowd a reason to dance as she joined Monahan on a cover of the classic ABBA hit “Dancing Queen”.  The crowd ate it up, and was clearly the highlight of the 20 song set.  A short acoustic set followed with Monahan diving into a solo acoustic rendition of “It’s Everything” on a ukulele while the band rejoined him on stage for a Spanish guitar flavored version of “50 Ways To Say Goodbye”.

The main set concluded with “Hey, Soul Sister”, a cover of the Dirty Heads “Vacation” and finally with a rousing version of “Drive By”.  After a very short break the band emerged for a quick two song finale that started with “Dream On” (a fantastic version of the Aerosmith hit) and “Drops Of Jupiter”, which won the band 2 Grammy Awards in 2002.

Between the bands on the bill and the overall energy of the show Train really threw together a fun night of live music. From start to finish it was an entertaining night—even the recorded music played in between sets got the crowd on their feet.  The AM GOLD Tour wraps up Saturday night August 6 with a show at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado while Train has select dates on their schedule which will see them again locally at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio on September 24th.

Thunderstorm Artis

Blues Traveler