Train is out on tour promoting their new album AM Gold, and they brought their high energy the North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 26 with help from Jewel, Blues Traveler, and Thunderstorm Artis for a night of great music and fun.
As a concert photographer, I always try to make sure that I get to shoot the opening acts. Sometimes it’s the last time you ever hear of the artist, other times you manage to catch the next huge star at the start of their rise. I had not heard of Thunderstorm Artis before this show, so I had no expectations of what he would sound like. Here is some advice, if you get a chance to see him perform, jump on it now, this guy has an amazing voice, and can even turn a classic hit into something new and original. His set opener of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” stopped me dead in my tracks, He is that good. His set was short, too short, with a mix of covers like “Aint No Sunshine” and “Blackbird” to originals from his upcoming album Take Me To The Fire which is due out later this year, he really was impressive. I expect to be seeing a lot of him in the future.
Thunderstorm Artis – Guitar, Vocals
Next up was Blues Traveler, one of my favorite bands, so I am biased. I was introduced to Blues Traveler back in college by a friend who works in a record store (remember those). He heard they had just released their first album, and thought it would be something I would like, he was right. I have been a fan ever since. I never miss a Blues Traveler show when they come to town and luckily for me, San Diego seems to be on their tour schedule every year or two. I really enjoyed this set, and found myself singing along behind my mask in the photo pit, something that does not happen very often. Yes, we are still wearing masks in the photo pit. The opening “But Anyway” has been a favorite of mine since the moment I first heard it driving home from the record store with the CD playing in my truck. I still have the CD, I no longer have the truck. The other two songs that are captured here in photos was a cover of “What I Got” by Sublime and “Run-Around”, both of which had the crowd up and singing along. The Blues Traveler set mixed the older classics with newer numbers and had me wanting more when they left the stage. Some moments that were not captured in photos included a guest appearance by Jewel band’s guitarist Ryan Warner which allowed Blues Traveler to show off why they are still one of the jam band originals. Their new album Travelers Blues is available now and is currently what I’m listening to in my car. Some things just don’t change.
John Popper – Harmonica, Vocals
Chan Kinchla – Guitar, Vocals
Brendan Hill – Drums
Tad Kinchla – Bass
Ben Wilson – Keyboards
Then it was time for Jewel. Jewel has a long history with San Diego and I actually remember seeing her play at a local venue right before she went off to win all the big awards at the San Diego Music Awards back in 1994 (and 1995, and 1996) but this was the first time photographing her. Her set opened with “Standing Still” but really, no one in the audience was doing that, they were up and dancing from the first note. As I mentioned, Jewel has a long history with San Diego, and her fans came out in force. Jewel treated the fans to a great selection of tunes including some off her new album, Freewheelin’ Woman along with stories and anecdotes of her time here in America Finest City. Her set including yodeling and ended with the crowd favorite “Who Will Save Your Soul”. Another great set that could have gone on longer and left the audience wanting more.
Train puts on a really good show. It’s just that simple. They know what the crowd likes and they deliver every single time. The opening number “AM Gold” (title track from the new album) had the look and feel of a Soul Train television show, and managed to be both new and nostalgic at the same time, no easy task, but executed with perfection. From throwing out t-shirts (including a stage signed Meet Virginia t-shirt) to taking selfies with cell phones the braver audience members threw up to Pat Monahan (risky, but rewarding)… and that was just the first couple of songs. The enthusiastic crowd sang along to hits and to the news songs from the just released AM Gold album. I just have to say, that it was really fun shooting the first three songs of their set. The lighting was bright and colorful and the band really seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage. Actually that could be said for all the acts on this tour, they seemed to all be having a blast performing and that always translates into a great night out. Some of the moments that I was not able to capture included beach balls flying through the crowd, a guest appearances from John Popper and Jewel. One highlight for me was the cover of the Beatles “Hey Jude”, one of my favorite tunes. Overall this was one great night of music. If this tour is heading your way, GO. You can thank me later.
Pat Monahan – Vocals
Hector Maldonado – Bass, Vocals
Jerry Becker – Keyboard, Guitar
Taylor Locke – Guitar, Vocals
Matt Musty – Drums
Sakai Smith – Backup Vocals
Nikita Houston – Backup Vocals