Review: Train w/ Thunderstorm Artis

The indie-pop band Train laid down some groovy tracks at the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre on Monday, July 31, 2023. The multi-Grammy Award winning septet opened their 20-song set with “AM Gold,” a new song with a vintage disco vibe. From the first few notes, the packed-in crowd rose to their feet and abandoned their charcuterie for some singing and dancing. 

Next they played “Meet Virginia,” the band’s first commercial hit, and added a very cool medley of Steve Miller’s “The Joker.” Frontman Pat Monahan sported a Meet Virginia t-shirt, then peeled it off, band members added their signatures, and tossed it into the crowd with a bunch of other tees (Monahan might have missed his calling in the NFL. He achieved quite a 30-yard spiral from rolled up shirts.) By the third offering, “If It’s Love,” members of the crowd were waving their phone torches. It wasn’t even dark yet! 

Monahan clearly knows how to work a crowd. Train came to the Garden with a well-constructed, interactive show full of surprises (and a little concert chum.) 

They offered a few verses of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lot of Love” to get our attention, before launching into a sparkling rendition of Tom Petty’s “American Girl.” Monahan brought out his 11-year old son Rock to help him with “Save The Day.” The kid can sing! He stayed on stage with his dad for a few verses of Journey’s “Faithfully” which morphed into “Calling All Angels” before reverting back for one more stanza with Rock sounding like an adolescent Steve Perry. Later, the family affair continued when Monahan’s 14 year-old daughter, Autumn joined him on stage for a sweet duet of “Bruises.”

Salt lake concert
Photo credit Kevin Rolfe

During “Save Me, San Francisco” the band blanketed the crowd with beach balls of various sizes, turning the Garden into a pool party. The band moved into the homestretch with their familiar hits, “Play That Song” and “50 Ways to Say Goodbye,” before spicing up “Hey, Soul Sister” with a few verses of Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love.” For their pre-encore finale they ended with “Drive By” followed by a closing chorus of “Hey Jude.” I really liked how they paid homage to vintage songs by blending them into their now classic hits.

They didn’t depart the stage before the encore, they just asked if they could stay and do a few more songs, as if the crowd really needed to think about it. For our bonus, we got a stunning version of “Hotel California” with guitarist Taylor Locke donning an oversized red double necked guitar (a throwback to Jimmy Page). A hillside of phone torches lit up the Garden for the grand finale, “Drops of Jupiter.” 

Monahan is an energetic frontman backed by an exceptional cast: Locke on guitar, Sakai Smith and Nikita Houston provided amazing backing vocals, Hector Maldonado on bass, Jerry Becker on keyboards and Matt Musty on drums. The Train crew never missed a beat. I hope we can get them back at Red Butte Garden next season. They’re definitely worth a repeat performance.

Salt lake concert
Photo credit Kevin Rolfe

Thunderstorm Artis opened the evening with a stellar 11-song solo set. A 2020 runner-up on NBC’s The Voice, he showed us his booming, vocal prowess with a nice blend of originals and reworked covers. He paired down each song to a shortened radio-edit version beginning with “Summertime” and his original “Oh, Little River.” He performed a lovely rendition of Bill Withers “Ain’t No Sunshine,” delivered a soulful interpretation of the Beatles, “Blackbird,” luring the crowd away from their picnics and chit-chat. His original composition “Stronger” showed off his growing skills as a songwriter. I really enjoyed his version of Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up.” His rendition showcased his vocal range as did “Stand Up Eight,” a fine new single, and Leonard Cohen’s epic “Hallelujah.” Artis has a golden voice and a bright future. I’d love to see him with a backing band at an intimate venue like The State Room.

Was it bad karma for a guy named Thunderstorm to sing “Ain’t No Sunshine” on an overcast evening? I swear I felt a drop of rain. Artis has a magical voice, but he doesn’t control the weather. Thank goodness. The clouds passed us by and we enjoyed another perfect summer salt Lake concert at the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre.

Who: Train w/ Thunderstorm Artis

Where: Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre

When: Monday, July 31, 2023

Info: www.redbuttegarden.org


John Nelson
John Nelsonhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
John Nelson covers the local music scene for Salt Lake magazine. He is a 20-year veteran of Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus with a lifelong addiction to American roots music, live music venues, craft beer and baseball.

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