Music & Nightlife

Train teams with openers, fans to create fun-filled show

By Sara Carson

scarson@charlotteobserver.com

Lead vocal Patrick Monahan for the rock band Train performed at the PNC Pavillion, on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.
Lead vocal Patrick Monahan for the rock band Train performed at the PNC Pavillion, on Tuesday, June 9, 2015. ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

Train put on a memorable concert on Tuesday night thanks to a little help from its friends: openers Matt Nathanson and The Fray, but also the 18,000 fans crammed into PNC Music Pavilion.

All three artists included the audience in their performances in some way.

Nathanson, performing first, enticed the then-sparse crowd by bringing humor to his performance. Three songs in, the artist threw a guitar pick into the audience, which he later pointed out ended up in a woman’s cleavage. The 42-year-old singer-songwriter cracked to fans that the rock n’ roll-esque moment made him “the happiest I’ve ever been.”

He took the opportunity to mingle with fans by jumping off-stage and running down aisles, before closing with a mashup of 2008 hit “Come On Get Higher” and “You’re The One That I Want” (from “Grease”), which livened up the audience and prepped them for The Fray.

Like Nathanson, The Fray lead singer Isaac Slade braved the crowds by walking up the aisle of the reserved section, giving out high-fives along the way, before climbing up on the railing in front of the lawn to sing “Hurricane” as fans tried to snap a selfie with the artist.

Then came the headliner, Train, heralded by the loud and long signal of a train whistle. Although Train’s lead singer, Pat Monahan, didn’t run into the crowd like his opening acts, he took fan interaction to the next level.

While singing “If It’s Love,” he indicated to the audience that he “likes to take selfies during this song,” then proceeded to grab more than 25 audience members’ cell phones, one after the other, snapping shots of himself before returning the devices to their owners.

Later, Monahan invited roughly 20 fans to sing and dance with him during “Wonder What You’re Doing for the Rest of Your Life.”

He threw T-shirts, guitar picks, drumsticks and beachballs to fans, and at one point had each member of his band sign the shirt on his back, then proceeded to do a quick striptease before tossing the shirt into the crowd.

Train played a range of songs from different albums and times, starting with “Meet Virginia” (from its earlier album, “Train”), moving on to “Angel in Blue Jeans” (off the band’s newest record, “Bulletproof Picasso”), and shocking the crowd during an encore with a seamless performance of Aerosmith’s “Dream On.”

Monahan sang another classic rock and roll hit, “With a Little Help From My Friends” by The Beatles, welcoming Nathanson and Slade back on stage for a trio tribute.

The band closed the show with its signature song, “Drops of Jupiter,” which sent the audience home fully satisfied after a long night of interactive rock n’ roll.

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