Maroon 5 & Train at the State Fair Grandstand, 9/5/2011

Categories: Last Night
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Photos by Erik Hess
Maroon 5 and Train
September 5, 2011
State Fair Grandstand


Labor Day--always a bittersweet day for Minnesotans, marking the end to 12 food coma-inducing days.  With the hot and rainy days past, the weather was perfect for an evening with radio friendly groups Maroon 5 and Train with opener Matt Nathanson.

When I say radio friendly, I am not kidding -- Maroon 5 opened with their current oft-played "Moves Like Jagger," inciting screams and flashing cameras from the sold-out crowd.  Adam Levine and Co. followed up with "Harder to Breath" and "Sunday Morning," exclaiming, "Look at this sold-out crowd.  What an amazing night; right now it's our time." 

For some reason, I am always amazed when an artist can sound as good live as their recordings, hence my enjoyment of Maroon 5's performance.  Being a judge on The Voice, where he calls people out on their singing, you would expect Adam Levine to have talent and he does not disappoint.  Wearing a simple white t-shirt and purposely distressed jeans, Adam's vocal styles run the gamut from pop/rock to jazz.  With his seductive voice and lyrics like "I may not make it through the night, I won't go home without you," Adam could make a girl believe that she indeed has a chance to go home with him. 

Maroon 5 ended their set with "This Love," and the crowd was ready to prepare for Train, but the band returned for an encore that included a make-out session by a couple on their first date prompted by Adam Levine, who declared, "Nice, I hope it lasts longer than after the show.  If you get married, I will maybe sing at your wedding." Next, Adam and his guitarist, James Valentine, led the crowd into an acoustic version of "She Will Be Loved," segueing into a full band.  During Maroon 5's set, the Bart Simpson quote, "There's only one thing to do at a time like this: strut," kept running through my head--and how it summed up Adam Levine's stage persona in one word.

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Photos by Erik Hess
I honestly didn't know what to expect with Train's set, especially when they introduced the band to the sounds of a chugging train (how cliché).  Although not making a die-hard fan out of me, Pat Monahan did thoroughly impress me and my concert buddy with his voice and stage presence; there are few artists that have as much range control as Pat. 

During "She's On Fire," the band added a country twist to the otherwise pop song, claiming it was due to "fried butter that we had earlier."  Inviting a group of 20 ladies onstage to dance and sing along to the rest of the song, Pat asserted, "There's always one girl who wants to take pictures the whole time, so let's get it over with," compelling the group to pull out their cameras and blind the singer. 

Halfway through the set, Train proceeded to impress with a Latin medley that included versions of "Heart of Glass" and "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," which featured Pat wearing a red Michael Jackson-esque "Thriller" jacket.  I was kind of hoping for an MJ cover to be thrown in there, but the next number was a cover of Rihanna's "Umbrella."

Introducing their recent hit, "Marry Me," was a video montage of couples telling how they met. I honestly thought it was an eHarmony commercial--no joke.  It turned out to actually be the footage from their music video featuring the song.  Upon the completion of the song, Pat shared that, "We all got married at the Minnesota State Fair.  There's a couple of dudes at the front here that are very disappointed."  Cult/mass marriages are always exciting and fun, especially when they are involuntary. 

Train is a band that has a wide-ranging audience demographic, at times almost mirroring Keith Urban in performance and stage presence and further demonstrating the narrowing gap between country and pop music.  Coming to the fair, I was set to just be there to watch a concert, not expecting to actually like what I heard.   But when the band broke out the first few bars of "Soul Sister," I could not help but sing along.  Watching thousands of people get caught up in the moment was a humbling experience; the elitist attitude of the hipster blogger grows old after a while--a hipster would probably tell you that they were already over being an elitist before you knew it, anyway--and no one can tell you what music to appreciate.  We are all connoisseurs of what we admire.

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Photos by Erik Hess
Critic's bias: If you can't tell, I was truly impressed with both bands tonight; Maroon 5 passing muster a little bit better since they were more about the music than the flashing lights.
The crowd: Middle-aged suburbanites and young women, with a smattering of guys.
Overheard in the crowd: "I don't want to be a pirate!" referring to the Seinfeld-like puffy shirt donned by Pat Monahan during one of the songs. 
Random notebook dump: The last time I went to a show that had as many outfit changes was Lady Gaga last fall; I lost count after three, and that includes the time Pat took off his shirt and handed it to a fan.
Random notebook dump 2: For their encore that included the band's hit "Drops of Jupiter," Pat came back on stage wearing a shirt that my neighbor and I thought read "God Save Palin."
For more photos: See our full slideshow by Erik Hess.

Maroon 5 setlist:

Moves Like Jagger
Harder to Breath
Sunday Morning
If I Never See Your Face Again
Misery
Makes Me Wonder
The Sun
Won't Go Home Without You
Never Gonna Leave This Bed
Wake Up Call
Stutter
This Love

Encore
Hands All Over
She Will Be Loved

Train setlist:

Parachute
If It's Love
Meet Virginia
She's On Fire
Angels
Latin Medley
Umbrella
San Francisco
Marry Me
Soul Sister

Encore
Words
Drops of Jupiter
This Ain't Goodbye


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