Even with an oncoming storm through Tampa, it could not keep the thousands from pouring into the Mid-Florida Credit Amphitheater to catch 90’s rock giants Train and Goo Goo Dolls from performing. As I stand in line to get into the show, you can tell which fans are prepared to stick it out in the rain on the lawn by all the ponchos, tarps and chairs. Just before the start of the show, the skies begin to open up to the token late afternoon storms that frequent Florida in the summer and a sarcastic cheer rings in the the lawn area.
At 7pm sharp Allen Stone takes the stage. Walking out in an olive green armyish style outfit and long blonde hair with matching beard, Allen belts out the first words of “Brown Eyed Lover” a triumphant release earlier this year, with the power and soul that has helped pave his way to success. In 2009 Allen Stone self-released his first album Last To Speak and followed that up in 2011 with his self-titled album. 2018 might have marked the high point for this artist career. Allen Stone married, became a guest mentor on American Idol and released 3 very successful singles including the show opener, which entered Spotify at #11 and has 75 million plays to date. One of the highlights of Allen’s set was his powerful rendition of Bob Marley’s classic “Is This Love”.
Over the last 32 years, Goo Goo Dolls have produced some of the most iconic and memorable songs within that time. Though their first album was released in June of 1987, it was 1995’s A Boy Named Goo and 1998’s Dizzy Up The Girl that not only solidified the band as a commercial success, but showed the world some of the best song writing to date. As the lights go out, you can see John Rzeznik’s guitar tech draping his white Rock N Roll Relics Lightning guitar over him with wife Melina and daughter Liliana standing close by. John walks out on stage, shortly followed by longtime bassist Robby Takac to a thunderous ovation from the crowd and he pauses to take it all in and gives them a smile in return. Goo Goo Dolls jump right into the upbeat “Stay With You” and the crowd immediately start to cheer and sing the lyrics back to the band.
As John works the stage side to side with microphone in hand, Robby in his rolled up calm diggers, bare feet and token wild hair sprint, skip and jump across every open area of the stage. As the faces of the band, these guys give everything they have through out every single song connecting with the audience in anyway they could. Their set not only including great visual effects, but he set list itself was stacked with nostalgic hit after hit, immediately taking me back to when the videos were first hitting MTV or DJ’s playing them on the radio. In June of this year, The Goo Goo Dolls released their first single in two years with “Miracle Pill’. The much anticipated full album of the same name is set to come out in the fall on Warner Records.
As the rain continues to come down, the lawn is surprisingly packed this late in the show. Just as the stage lights start to dim, the sound of a locomotive train pierce through the venue as the bands intro video plays on the large displays on and above the stage taking everybody on a galactic voyage through the stars. As six of the seven members walk out, singer Pat Monahan jogs to the center of the stage as everyone kicks into ” Calling All Angels”. The eager crowd erupt as the stage lights reveal the band and even those concerts goers on the lawn forget about the elements and join those in the pavilion.
After twenty years of touring and ten albums, Pat Monahan’s voice sounds just as strong and angelic is it did on the bands 1998 self-titled album, hitting every note as if it were being played off the albums themselves. Lead guitarist Luis Maldonado a Tampa native, received a large ovation from the hometown crowd after he finished playing a solo and Monahan announced to the crowd. But before the applause could even die down, he gave Maldonado the opportunity for a second shot at it by saying “This is your hometown, and that’s the solo that you play? Come on! I know you could give them a better one then that.” at which point Luis smiles and rips into a blistering solo on his black Gibson SG.
Throughout the concert, Train’s stage show was nothing short of spectacular. It included multiple sets of streamers exploding off the front of the stage at the beginning and at the end of the set, incredible visuals coinciding with each song being played and multiple sparklers igniting on stage. Train also had Allen Stone join them for “Bruises” and a unique version of “Empire State of Mind” and shortly after, John Rzeznik joined them for a great medley of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and “Free Fallin”. Bassist Hector Maldonado stole the show during their cover of Queens hit “Under Pressure” with playing that signature bass line and singing Bowie’s parts with exact precision. This show,much like the tour itself, was a huge success. It is one fans who where there will definitely remember and one that future audiences shouldn’t miss. The Train & Goo Goo Dolls Summer Tour cruises on through August 17th where it will wrap up at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Ma, so don’t miss out!