LIVE: Train & Maroon 5 @ SPAC, 8/9/11

Pat Monahan of Train

Pat Monahan of Train

Last year, Train and Maroon 5 each headlined separate concerts when they rolled into the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. But this time around, they re-trenched as co-headliners on a combined tour, and more than 17,000 fans came out to hear them at SPAC earlier this month.

The tour’s original opener Gavin DeGraw was the victim of a mugging in New York City the previous night which landed him in the hospital, so singer-songwriter-keyboardist Nikki Jean was added to the bill as a last minute substitution.

Bad move all around.

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Her roots-folk performance was hardly noticed by the crowd, and in fact, it would have been much more suited to Caffe Lena – just a few blocks away – than opening for the night’s co-headlining amphitheater rockers.

Launching their explosive set with “Moves Like Jagger,” Maroon 5 shifted into high gear from the git-go, cranking their brand of rock into overdrive. Adam Levine – the Los Angeles-based quintet’s front man – jumped around the stage like a man possessed, while his band mates turned on the instrumental juice on the song at hand. They revved up the audience with a mix of the group’s hits: “This Love,” “ Harder To Breathe,” “Sunday Morning,” “Makes Me Wonder,” and selections from their most recent album, “Hands All Over.” The tunes rolled on one into another until their encore anthem, “She Will Be Loved,” brought the set to a close.

The crowd wanted more.

Train’s lead singer Pat Monahan burst on the stage with a curious mix of animated theatrics (ala Ray Davis of the Kinks in his heyday) and today’s typical rock energy (the ongoing Mick Jagger School of Performance Tactics).

Train’s decade-long popularity has grown steadily through constant touring and five albums including their latest, “Save Me San Francisco,” which spawned their newest hit “Marry Me.”

In fact, that song was the highlight of the evening, as Monahan jumped off the stage, singing and strolling his way to the back of the amphitheater and out onto the lawn, while the band – fueled by drummer (and Saratoga Springs native) Scott Underwood – kept churning away. Still carrying the tune, Monahan bounded back onto the stage and suddenly stopped to introduce his “friend” Mike, who had “something he needs to say.” Well, it was a marriage proposal, and Mike’s girlfriend accepted.

Even though it screamed “publicity stunt,” it wasn’t out of character for Monahan and his band. In fact, it was all in keeping in the spirit of the unexpected and rock ‘n’ roll fun. And judging by the roar of screams and applause throughout Train’s set, it wasn’t only Mike that was happy.

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Eric Jenks’ review at The Saratogian
Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Lead singer Patrick Monahan started with ‘Parachute.’ He can create intimacy, as he did here. He likes to engage the audience. You can imagine him in a smaller venue, whereas Levine seemed to need even more size than SPAC. Train songs are brighter, more theatrical. Levine wore black. Monahan wore all white. Monahan enjoys dynamics, likes to go up and down with the songs. Likes to get soft as well as loud. During ‘If It’s Love,’ the crowd on the hill gently swayed to the tune, their cellphones lit and held high. Then came ‘Meet Virginia,’ a great tune. Nothing really happens in these songs, he just plays them straight. But that’s fine, because the crowd is ecstatically happy to be there.”

Adam Levine of Maroon 5

Adam Levine of Maroon 5

Nikki Jean

Nikki Jean

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