Photos by Jeff Rutherford
Showmanship-wise, Train was the hit of the three-act evening. But vocally, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine was the stronger. Train’s lead vocalist Patrick Monahan screamed into the microphone, even at one point missing a high note, shaking his head knowing he couldn’t get up to that range. Maybe his voice was tired, coming off a three-year tour.
Levine hit all his notes, including the high ones in “Makes Me Wonder.” He effortlessly went up and down the vocal scale in every set, while Monahan stayed in a lower range for most of his concert. Granted, Monahan cancelled his Erie, Pennsylvania Aug. 27 concert due to “blowing out a register of my singing voice” and maybe his cords weren’t all the way healed by State Fair concert time.
But the audience seemed to want the pizzazz of a last day of the Fair at a glorious outdoor event while enjoying a last summer holiday.
The crowd varied widely, from teens to middle age. Many parents were there with adult children. The Leshovsky family of St. Paul Park: dad Duane, 56, and kids Andrew, 26, and Amber, 21, came together. “We all just grew up listening to the same music,” said Amber. Duane said he is a concert fanatic. “This is my third concert at the Fair. I’m a Cities 97 person.”
Indeed, listening to Maroon 5, one could envision being at the Cities 97 studio while recording a live-in-studio Cities Sampler album (which Maroon 5 did for Vol. 16 and Train for Vol. 12 and 18).
The concert was sold out, one of only two sellouts at this year’s State Fair Grandstand series. Mari Durene, 21, and Andres Titus, 26, both of Minneapolis, were pacing the entrance of the Grandstand Plaza with a sign: “I Need a Ticket.” They weren’t having much luck, and then State Fair security informed them it was illegal to sell or buy tickets on the fairgrounds.
The ones lucky enough to purchase a seat had a fun time. “I thought Maroon 5 was fabulous. Adam Levine is darling and I knew every single song,” said Robin Johnson, 50. Her concert friend Kathy Roland, 53, of Roseville was a Train fan. “I remember watching Patrick Monahan on The Voice. I think he is brilliant. He can really move, just an excellent performer,” she said.
It was all about the moves of the lead male singers with the predominantly female audience members. “Where are the ladies tonight, the girls? There’s three billion girls here and 25 guys,” said Monahan. “Anyone here on a first date?” When a couple stood up, Monahan encouraged them to engage in a brief make-out session that he happily projected on the stage’s large screen. “I hope it lasts longer than the show. That’s the beauty of life. If you ever get married, I maybe will sing at your wedding.”
The Trainettes, a chorus line of audience members Monahan invited on stage (“I need a couple of young ladies to dance with me”), is one example of how Train engaged spectators. He called the gathered Trainettes “Minnesota Soul Sisters” and said they were the best Trainettes he’s ever seen. “Is this what it’s like to live here? Why don’t I live in the Twin Cities, I don’t know.”
From audience sing-alongs to Monahan strutting in the crowd singing “Will You Marry Me” to swooning fans, Train energized the holiday nighttime listeners. Maroon 5 also interacted with the Fair crowd, asking them to clap along. But this was all done on stage, whereas Train connected with the audience and did a lot of impromptu moments. Maroon 5 was more of a standard Concert 101.
For example, Monahan asked the audience to hold up their cell phones in the air. He waited until everyone complied. Then, he raised his cell phone and said, “I’ll take your photo and tweet them to you!” The audience loved the Train spontaneity.
Maroon 5 opened with their #1 hit on Billboard: “Moves Like Jagger,” a nod to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. They did all their popular hits: “Harder to Breathe,” “Sunday Morning,” “If I Never,” “Never Gonna Leave,” and “This Love.” Newer song “Stutter” asked the audience to repeat the word along with Levine, stuttering the S.
Levine was a decent guitar player on many of his sets and incorporated a gold guitar. Train had a larger band, including a female cello player, and percussion instruments. The cello, unfortunately, seemed lost in the loudness of the concert as did the percussions and Monahan barley tapped the bongos near his mic.
Considering the upcomoing 10th anniversary of 9/11, Train’s soulful “Calling All Angels” was a fitting choice.
Monahan seemed genuinely moved performing “Angels,” appearing in all white on a pedestal with a lone cello. There, the cello player was heard and added depth to the song. Monahan requested the audience raise their hands and “think of all the people we love” while superimposing their faces on the large stage screen. Monahan and the crowd repeated the lines “I won’t give up, you don’t give up” that had a calming moment in a high adrenaline concert.
Before performing ”Umbrella” Monahan introduced it by saying “this next song is to keep the rain away and keep summer a little bit closer,” a sentiment with which most of the audience would agree.
Opening act Matt Nathanson started the concert.
Song set for Matt Nathanson
“Queen of (K)nots”
Song set for Maroon 5
“Moves Like Jagger”
“Harder to Breathe”
“If I Never”
“Makes Me Wonder”
“Give a Little More”
“Never Gonna Leave”
(Riff) “Wake Up Call”
“Hands All Over”
Song set for Train
“If It’s Love”
“She’s On Fire”
“Latin Bit Umbrella”
“Drops of Jupiter”
“This Ain’t Goodbye”