It was another warm Friday night in the OC at FivePoint Amphitheatre. The crowd was just rolling in to catch the AM Gold Tour and everyone was excited to say the least.
Depending on who you asked, people were there to see their favorites, whether it is Blues Traveler, Jewel, and of course, the headliner… Train!
July 29, 2022
The crowd was hard to gauge at first; they were very laid back, kind of like a 5th of July crowd. But the crowd immediately let itself be heard when the opener, Thunderstorm Artis, took the stage. If that name sounds familiar, you may be Hawaiian as he is a fellow islander. For others of us, he is known as a contestant on Season 18 of “The Voice.” He did well enough to get noticed, and he came out to show exactly what he could bring.
Artis captivated the audience with that melodic and sultry voice. His set was short, but it entertained the crowd with great covers of Bob Markey and Beatles tunes.
After a brief intermission, Blues Traveler took to the stage. Immediately the crowd perked up as they were surprised to see Jimmy Kimmel pal Adam Carolla gracing the stage. Blues Traveler kicked off with Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom” and Blues singer John Popper joined Carolla. This was the first time I had seen Blues Traveler live, and I was pleasantly surprised at just how good of musicians they were. The band was tight, with great percussion and horns. They are very reminiscent of Chicago’s sonic rhythm and Boingo’s horns; let that sink in.
Throughout their performance, they mixed classic blues songs along with their hits. Fans were treated to some of their favorites like “Hook,” and boy did they lose their minds early in the set to “Run Around.” Clearly, it wouldn’t be Blues Traveler if you didn’t hear and appreciate Popper and his mastery of the harmonica. As impressive as that was, guitarist Chan Kinchla, and brother/bassist Tad Kinchla, delivered a masterful performance that reminded us why this band has been as successful as they are, and the crowd loved every moment of the set.
As the sun started to dip into the horizon, the temperature throughout the amphitheater was starting to rise as Jewel was up next. This was a performance I was very much looking forward to. Jewel came to prominence in the ‘90s, with a slew of hits at an early age, and propelled herself into the coolnessphere while making a name for herself.
The thing about Jewel is that she earned the respect she has received not just from fans, but fellow musicians and critics alike. The Alaskan phenom was just 16 and living out of her car when she hit it big. She often jokes about her early days, but it also was a path that earned her the respect she so deservedly gets. She had a dream, she tracked it down… and she claimed it!
Jewel came out strong to a cheering crowd to “Standing Still,” then segued into “Hands.” Jewel was dressed to the nines in a volcanic combination of rock and country ensemble with eyeliner that would have impressed Siouxsie and all her Banshees! As for the response to her opening tunes, it was remarkable that not only did I see women standing, singing, and dancing along to every song, men, teens, and young kids also knew the music and showed their appreciation.
As I looked around, the capacity crowd was almost there and it was evident they all knew her music. Songs like “Intuition” did very well with the crowd and fans seemed amazed at just how strong a voice and range Jewel displayed. As impressive as that was, it all came to a head for a goosebump moment for the crowd when Jewel went into a very heartfelt delivery of “You Were Meant for Me.”
In a moment of brevity after such an emotional song, Jewel joked a bit about her early days then showed the crowd how great of an artist she has become by displaying her vocal prowess as she yodeled to “Chimes.” Bottom line, Jewel not only proved why she is the legend she is, but also displayed why she is one of the most respected voices in the world of music. Jewel closed her set to “Who Will Save Your Soul,” and the crowd erupted with cheers. I had never seen Jewel perform live before, and I was beyond impressed. I can understand why the multi-generational crowd was so enthralled by her music; it was by far a very special performance.
After another short intermission, the crowd was ready for the sights and sounds of Train. The band came out with a bang; lead singer Pat Monahan immediately took control of the stage and the crowd. We all had no idea the energy and artistry we were about to see over the next 90 minutes.
The first few songs had it all; piercing sound, dance moves, in your face lyrics, confetti, and selfies… yes, selfies! Train opened with “AM Gold” and then “Meet Virginia,” and the crowd erupted. Immediately engaging the crowd, Monahan wore a shirt that he had all the band members sign while wearing it and then started to throw shirts into the crowd. That dude displayed an impressive quarterback’s arm as he chucked some of those shirts pretty far up the amphitheater.
Then it was back to music and the crowd went nuts when they went into their Steve Miller band cover of “The Joker.” During “If It’s Love,” Monahan did one of the most impressive sights I have ever seen. Not only did he dance, not only did he sing, but fans were throwing cell phones at him, and he would re-set the phone in selfie mode and took selfies, then toss the phones back to their owners. It wasn’t just one or two; I stopped counting after about 10! All I can say is… impressive!
Monahan was very animated; I mean he was almost giddy. He thanked the crowd for coming out and even said it was “amazing to get everyone back together.” That of course was a clear reference to the last two years of COVID lockdowns and show cancelations. The show got even wackier when giant beach balls were hurled into the crowd during “Save Me San Francisco. ” It was surreal, almost like being at a Muse show. Then there were stage fireworks that took a few people by surprise during “Calling All Angels.”
In a special moment for all, Jewel came out and joined Monahan for a cover of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” Truthfully, U2 has nothing on these two for this one. Monahan followed that up with a solo acoustic version of “It’s Everything” on a ukulele, and then the band joined in for a Spanish guitar version of “50 Ways to Say Goodbye.”
The crowd was beyond ecstatic as the hit parade continued. Train blew out “Hey, Soul Sister,” and the crowd erupted with cheers at another decibel level when Train covered local OC favorites, Dirty Heads for a version of “Vacation.” They then brought the show home with a kick-ass version of “Drive By.”
As the moon grew to full display, the crowd wanted more, and Train did not disappoint. Everyone went cartoon crazy as Monahan led the entire amphitheater in a very animated version of Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” Then they bid farewell to the OC with “Drops of Jupiter.”
From the opener to the headliner, this was a special night for music at FivePoint and everyone left the venue with smiles from ear to ear.