Singer Pat Monahan and Train pumped out a cavalcade of hits for a capacity crowd at Meijer Gardens, the same night that Soccer Mommy closed out downtown’s Listening Lawn series. Recaps, photos.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The week kicked off in Grand Rapids with two concerts seven miles from each other: Train playing to a sold-out Meijer Gardens and Soccer Mommy playing the final concert in the summer Listening Lawn series at downtown’s Studio Park. Check out reviews of both shows below and scroll down for the photo galleries.
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TRAIN AT MEIJER GARDENS
When that locomotive whistle blew, it was time for Train to take the stage on Monday.
The mega-hit pop-rock band rolled in for a show that chugged along like a well-oiled machine, much to the delight of the sold-out crowd at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
Frontman Pat Monahan charmed concertgoers from the word “go,” or rather, “AM Gold,” and continued to interact with the crowd like the natural-born showman he is.
Without missing a beat, Monahan threw out “Meet Virginia” shirts as he sang the band’s first hit, weaving it with Steve Miller’s “Joker” for one of several ingenious medleys. He also signed his own shirt, whipped it off, and threw it into the audience before one could say “autograph.”
This guy knew what he was doing in terms of engaging a crowd, for sure. Later, he effortlessly grabbed fans’ phones and took selfies with them before tossing them back into the crowd, and at one point, he invited three teen-age girls up onstage to sing “Bruises” with him, much to their glee.
Other successful song combos: “Play That Song,” a bouncy romp of a tune, blended with Lionel Richie’s “Easy Like Sunday Morning.” “Calling All Angels,” with its dreamscape of lush harmonies, melded perfectly with Journey’s “Faithfully.”
Highlights included the band’s rollicking anthem to their hometown, the irresistible “Save Me, San Francisco,” the massive appeal of sing-along favorite “Hey, Soul Sister” and the tantalizing beat of “Drive By.”
With no pretense of an encore (“I’m too old for this s___,” Monahan told the crowd), the band broke into a luminous cover of “Hotel California,” with the lead singer himself jumping in to pound the drums, serving as a great prelude to everyone’s best-loved Train tune, “Drops of Jupiter,” in all its celestial glory.
Fans lit up the darkening night with cell phone lights, waving their arms as one to the stellar hit as real stars (drops of Jupiter?) burst out overhead — the perfect ending to a glittering night of pop-rock hits.
The affable Thunderstorm Artis winsomely warmed up the crowd with his blend of covers and original tunes. The 27-year-old won over the crowd instantly with his rendition of “Summertime,” then put his own stamp on Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” the song he sang for his blind audition on “The Voice” in 2020.
“Color Me in Gold” was a high point in the Hawaiian singer’s set, as he brought on his wife Faith to sing with him. It was a first for her to sing in front of a crowd this size, and fans appreciatively cheered her and even gave the duo a standing ovation.
Another memorable moment was Artis’s song “Stronger,” dedicated to his late father and his mother, parents of 11 children. The song was a prayer, a covenant to live life in the way he was brought up, and was determined not to stray from it.
With nimble guitar playing, warm storytelling lyrics, and that singular voice, Artis captivated the crowd in Grand Rapids, who rewarded him with one more standing ovation. – By Lorilee Craker
PHOTO GALLERY: Train, Thunderstorm Artis at Meijer Gardens
Photos by Joshua Tufts
SOCCER MOMMY AT STUDIO PARK
An attentive and respectful crowd of Soccer Mommy fans gathered at Studio Park Monday night for the Listening Lawn’s final concert of the season. The crowd expressed their love for the band by bringing the energy at the right moments and knowing when it was time to dial back and let the music speak for itself.
High-energy emo-rock band Pool Kids opened the show with a set full of catchy tracks that pretty much required some headbanging and finger pointing. The female-fronted band carried the eager crowd through their set with angsty lyrics that had even the most reserved concertgoers nodding their heads.
The evening brought pleasantly warm temperatures and a slight breeze which made the weather a topic of conversation for both bands after being subjected to scalding hot weather for the past few tour dates. Pool Kids’ frontwoman Christine Goodwyne, unaware of Michigan’s famously temperamental climate, asked “Is it always like this?” to which the crowd responded with a definitive “NO.”
While Soccer Mommy is primarily known as an indie-rock project, it’s the elements of pop, shoegaze, grunge and dream-rock woven into their music that sets the band apart. Frontwoman Sophia Regina Allison’s dreamy, ethereal vocals came across as anything but delicate as they echoed throughout the venue with confidence and power.
Her vocal strength was especially apparent during the emotional 2018 track “Still Clean.” Allison played solo with only her guitar as the crowd swayed and took in the meaningful lyrics.
After several melancholy tracks from their notoriously sad catalog, the band brightened things up with their cover of Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun,” officially released just days ago.
The most enthusiastic reaction of the night came when the first chords of “Your Dog,” Soccer Mommy’s most streamed song, played to kick off the encore. Fans who had begun inching their way toward the exit fled back to the stage with newfound energy and sang along to every line.
To keep spirits high, Soccer Mommy closed out their set with the dancey, upbeat song, “Don’t Ask Me,” from their most recent album “Sometimes, Forever.” – By Holly Holtzclaw
PHOTO GALLERY: Soccer Mommy, Pool Kids at Studio Park
Photos by Holly Holtzclaw
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