Thought processes and conversations started under the tilted cap of Tropicana Field. Someday everyone will know the Rays play in St. Petersburg, Florida, not TAMPA, or the fictitious city of TAMPA BAY.
Train Took us on a Musical Journey
I can tell you from doing years of Special Event planning for Pepsi that I have been in front and in back of some great stages for concerts. But last night’s Train show, which was part of the Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series had the feel of an outdoor concert, fresh with anticipation and a want by the crowd to sing along. And Train fits that bill of the smaller concert bands in that they love to use the audience as a essential part of their shows. From musical sing-a-longs, to bring in up some kids to become official “Trainettes” the show had a special magic to it.
And Train lead singer Pat Monahan showed before the Rays game that he is not a one-trick pony putting a perfect pitch across the plate showing not just a vocal talent, but maybe a spot relievers role. Okay, maybe it was not faster than former Rays reliever Casey Fossum’s loopy pitch, but it was great to see a pitch break over the plate. But that was not the extent of Monahan’s physical show to the assembled fans within Tropicana Field that night.
After changing from his Carolina Blue T-shirt to a pure white T-shirt, Monahan not only shocked the Rays security force with his next move, he shocked the entire audience on the Rays field for the concert by popping down off the stand and doing an impromptu walkabout around the Trop with plenty of fans in tow with him. Monahan wanted all of us to “marry” that night, and the song ” Marry Me” definitely became a special moment for the throng of fans who embraced the action of Monahan that reminded me of former Rays concert performer M C Hammer when he did his epic sprint around Tropicana Field in 2008.
There is something about Train’s simplicity not in their lyrics but in the performers of the band that strikes a great chord within my musical memory that all three from Monahan to drummer Scott Underwood, and guitarist Jimmy Stafford remind you more of that group you saw in a tavern somewhere in your youth than a multi-album recording group that has even had their hits posted on the Country music channel CMT. And that is a major coup for a rock band to be able to cross that invisible line and be accepted by the Country public. But if have heard their songs “Meet Virginia” or even “Let ItRoll“, which could be a Country song in a heartbeat.
The group threw their hearts and soul into last night’s performances and definitely made a few of the crowd believers in the group that also brought us “Save Me, San Francisco” and “This Ain’t Goodbye” with a great clarity in their live set that was missing from the CD versions. But the crowd was eager and more than willing to also provide back-up vocals throughout the night anytime Monahan needed a few seconds of relief. And that not often, as Monahan is one of those high powered energetic front men who feed off the crowd’s energy. And the Trop definitely was feeling his voice and their music Saturday night.
But it wasn’t until they started to do some of their other well known tunes like “If It’s Love“, “Calling All Angels” and “I Got You” that the energy level within the audience that could only be quelled with a song like “Hey Soul Sister“, which started out totally acoustic with the crowd providing some of the lyrics before Stafford joined Monahan, the former Led Zepplin cover band front man to bringing the night with the band to a crescendo moment. Throngs of fans on the field embraced, sang in groups, even thrust their cell phones to the skies to illustrate the old lighter trick of solidarity within the music.
It was definitely one of those nights that made you cherish the work the Rays have done to provide such a great atmosphere this season with these concert offerings. And even if Train kept their hit “Drops ofJupiter” for after their “Soul Sister” moment, it was not lost on the crowd who embraced the moment and again almost became louder than Monahan in their singing of the song. Train should be proud of the moments shared by the band and the Rays fans Saturday night. It was one of those moments so many will remember for Monahan’s stage presence, his stroll through the outfield, and how the band also let the audience become a unique part of the concert.
But the moment that sealed the deal for me last night was when the band adapted the Rihanna song “Umbrella” and did a resounding rendition of the song accented by Monahan’s tremendous vocals and the way the crowd instantly took Train in as a band not stuck within their own songs and lyrics, but willing to push beyond the borders for the enjoyment of the crowd. Train definitely left it all on stage last night with fantastic vocals from Monahan, inspired riffs from Stafford, and Underwood always seemed in control behind his drum set. You know Monahan and the band came off that stage drained of energy and totally proud of their performance.
And that is what I want to see in a great band. Leaving it all out there on the stage for the fans to soak in and take home with themselves as memories and moments to talk about for a long time. All that was missing was surly conductor to start us off last night with an “All Aboard” oratory because this Train ride was definitely one worth taking, and if you missed it…..You missed a killer ride.
*** Just a reminder, I have a page on Flickr.com under Rays Renegade that has sets of concert photos from all the Rays concerts, plus a few surprises.
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