Imagine for a second, the intensity of one sold out amphitheater - but this is not just any sold out amphitheater. It’s Friday night at the Shoreline in Mountain View and there’s no surprise the venue is packed (with an estimate near the 20,000 seated capacity). This is a hometown show for the Bay Area natives in Train, kicking off just their second night of the Picasso At The Wheel tour.
Joined on stage by Matt Nathanson and The Fray, it’s hard to say there was a single dull moment. From Nathanson’s amazing performance wrapped up with his upbeat love song, "Come On Get Higher;” to the Denver-natives in The Fray performing the beloved piano rock tracks including, “You Found Me,” “How to Save a Life,” “Over My Head (Cable Car),” “Break Your Plans” and closing number, featured single off their latest album, “Love Don’t Die.” Even the intermissions had the massive crowd going wild. Just moments before Train hits the stage - the amphitheater erupts with energy as House of Pain’s “Jump Around” is heard throughout the venue, encouraging all concert goers to do just that - get up out of their seats and jump around!
Seconds later, the lights go off and the venue comes to a quiet hum. Smoke flies from every which direction and that’s when you hear it - the rumbling of tracks, the 'chugga-chugga' of the approaching train, a faint whistle, and suddenly a steam whistle is piercing through the sky. It’s time. A single spot light hones in on guitarist Jimmy Stafford as the band takes the stage with their latest single and the tour’s inspired track, “Bulletproof Picasso.”
With a perfectly composed set list, the band’s tracks seamlessly go from one to the next. They started their show off strong with tracks from their latest album, continuing on with “Angel in Blue Jeans” and “Cadillac, Cadillac.” We see a sillier side of Train as the intro for Cadillac fades into “50 Ways to Say Goodbye,” and that’s when you hear it. The crowd goes insane and despite Patrick Monahan’s incredible live vocals, the voices of those 20,000-something fans are heard singing each note in perfect harmony.
As things slow down just a bit, the energy from the crowd is not at all lost. Patrick shows that even after seven studio albums and about twenty years of making music, there is nothing but love for the fans, which is expressed without doubts as the band segues into “If It’s Love,” and Patrick drops down from the stage to get up-close and personal with the eager crowd, using their smartphones for just a second to snap a priceless selfie, all without missing a beat. It is truly a remarkable interaction to witness as Patrick makes his way from one side of the stage to the next, capturing as many moments as possible during the duration of the song.
The hometown pride is felt throughout the amphitheater as the show continues. The stage is illuminated in our country’s red, white and blue in the most beautiful lighting display as Patrick pays homage for his hometown, shouting out San Francisco and giving thanks as it bleeds into their mash up of what Patrick refers to as the ‘first song anyone heard by us,’ “Free” and George Michael’s “Freedom 90.” Beach balls are sent into the crowd and can be seen bouncing from one row to the next as the band shows us what rock music is all about. The mash up between songs was completed by only the best guitar solos and guest vocals of the female back-up singers accompanying Train on stage. This mid-show performance was truly iconic, bursting with not only a “proud to be an American” vibe but the obvious: proud to be from the Bay.
Covers for the evening are not over as Train is joined on stage by Isaac Slade and Matt Nathanson for their rendition of “With A Little Help From My Friends” originally by The Beatles. The show progresses into some of the band’s bigger hits - saving “Hey, Soul Sister” and “Drive By” for what they wanted us to believe were the end of the show. But how could they possibly leave out what is to be considered by many the greatest Train song of all? There’s no way they were fooling us! Even with the lights off, there is a breath-taking glow from the crowd, with smart phones illuminated and the chanting for the return to the stage. The encore is kicked off by “Just a Memory” and another remarkable cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer.” This 80's classic was perfectly placed - Train’s cover bringing life and a new perspective to the already ultimate summer jam, signifying that the Picasso At The Wheel tour is an absolute summer must to attend.
Then the moment we’re both waiting for and dreading all the same. The band closes the show with “Drops of Jupiter,” ending their 20-song set list on the most beautiful high note carried throughout all of Mountain View. And that’s it. It’s hard to believe that the show is over, but Train definitely did not disappoint. From generations old and new (I had the pleasure of being behind a family who was attending and was mesmerized a few times by a middle-aged father who was singing happily to his young daughters, who were just as engrossed in the music as the older crowd was), this tour is bound to go down in history. The band will be playing dates all over the United States through July - be sure to check for the show nearest you. You definitely don’t want to miss out!
Photos and words by Brieanna Heinrichs