Train and Goo Goo Dolls Co-headlining tour

It was a blistering 110° F. The hottest day of the year so far and technically not even summer just yet, but in Arizona that date has very little meaning. Everyone was lined up outside in the hot sun. Why they hold the biggest tour events in Phoenix in the summer outdoors I will never understand. Phoenix is a large enough city (5th in the country) to be able to accommodate ending tours here in the fall and some bands have started to catch on ending or beginning their tours here when the weather is still nice. Most bands live in California now anyway and it’s a quick Southwest flight home at the end of a long tour, and the weather is perfect by then, but that’s a discussion for another day. The real story is the fact that despite the heat and being outdoors the venue was filled to overflowing.

On a personal note, one of the first arena concerts I ever attended was Bush, Goo Goo Dolls, and No Doubt. Bush headlined but on the back of the single “Name,” the Goo Goo Dolls were really kind of the stars of the show. Back in the 90’s it was a bit of a time for one hit wonders. I remember very vividly thinking of the Goo Goo Dolls, “I love this album but I won’t be surprised if this is the last we hear of them based on trends.” In all fairness they had quite a few albums prior to “Name” going so mainstream that never really went anywhere. The previous music was a bit more punk and it may surprise some people to know that bass player Robby Takac was originally the lead singer of the band for the first few albums. He is a great singer and continues to incorporate some of his tunes into the set list every night, but they have a very different feel to them and don’t seem to resonate with all fans of the band that are waiting for the next hit. Robby is a wild man on stage. Despite the heat he ran back and forth the entire set headbanging and high kicking even during the slower songs. He is a show within the show. He is known for never wearing shoes and socks on stage and always firing up the crowd. Meanwhile you have Johnny Rzeznik standing at the mic hushing the crowd, standing quietly, and saying things like, “I’m going to milk this moment.” It’s a dynamic that works and it shows in their song writing that they are able to keep churning out hits long after their colleagues in Bush and No Doubt have mostly hung it up. They are still going stronger than ever and have enough great recognizable songs to fill an entire hour and a half set to the delight of the crowd. There’s not many bands that can do that. I’ve seen them many times since that first show and while the high notes might be getting a little high for Johnny now I’m glad they proved a teenage me wrong about their longevity. I’ll never not go see them.

On another personal note, the first time I saw Train was purely by accident. It was September of 2001 ironically in the same venue they played on Wednesday night. The country had just come through the worst tragedy to ever befall us and just the week prior I had lost the best friend I ever had and probably ever will. It just so happens only days before a beautiful woman had transferred to my office from out of state and I was assigned to train her. We hit it off instantly and I decided it was worth pursuing. She mentioned to me that she had bought tickets to Matchbox Twenty’s show, but since she was new in town she had no one to go with her. She asked if I would like to go. I of course was sure this would be the night love would blossom and it had been a very rough patch in my life, so there was no way I wasn’t going. We get to the show and Train was opening. Drops of Jupiter had just come out and truthfully I didn’t know the song or the band and even now am not especially fond of it, but it is a tribute to his mother who passed so even in my cold heart I can find a place for it. Train did however play one song in particular that later would become a big hit for them but was not recorded at the time that really struck a chord with me and the passing of my friend. I remember writing down the lyrics to look it up later and see what it was, but as it had not been released there was nothing on the internet about it and I soon forgot it until 3 years later it was released as a new single and got me back in. During the course of the show the woman I was with confessed to me that she was really into my co-worker and asked if I would help her win him over. To think I went to a Matchbox Twenty concert just to impress her and that was how it turned out! We parted ways not long after, but I had found Train and they just keep putting out songs that get stuck in your head over and over and over again. He has a very strong backing band including 2 brothers that he introduced as being from Arizona, that flawlessly performed Queens “Under Pressure” and I am telling you after having heard that song a million times, if you’d closed your eyes you would have had a hard time knowing that you weren’t listening to Freddie and Bowie. Now I don’t know if you are aware of this, but as a man in his forties, it’s not cool to like Train. If you are tailgating with the fellas before a football game and you have your music on shuffle and Train comes on you have to say, “My girlfriend put that on there” because if you’re a woman in your forties there’s very little chance you don’t have a bottle of wine with Train on repeat and a good cry at the end of the night every so often. The truth is, if it comes on in the car all the windows are going up, but we are definitely singing all the corny lyrics to 50 Ways to Say Goodbye too when we are by ourselves. Train songs are notoriously corny and sappy and self-aware. If you YouTube any of their songs you will get recommendations for Creed (That’s a true story.) It’s the self-aware part that makes it okay though. If you read any interviews with Pat you will see that he knows that he’s the most unlikely rock star and he’s made his peace with not being the macho songwriter. It allows him to get up onstage every night to a packed house of people cheering for him even when there’s been many times publicly where he wanted to call it quits and even people like Howard Stern have pushed him to keep going, and he just owns it. Guys my age aren’t supposed to like Train, but we do because of it. You can’t help but root for him. As my friend Jody that attended with me said, “Train  was awesome! The only negative was they didn’t bring me up on stage to dance because they didn’t play my song Mermaid. Everyone from the front row to the lawn was dancing.” (She has been on stage with them to dance before to that song. If they play it in smaller venues usually they invite ladies on the stage to dance and the hardcore fans are always waiting for the chance to sprint up there. She made me hold her purse at the end of the show just in case.) If you can get tens of thousands of people dancing in blistering hot Arizona weather on a Wednesday night you’re doing something very right.

Goo Goo Dolls Setlist

  1. Stay With You
  2. Big Machine
  3. Slide
  4. Rebel Beat
  5. Here Is Gone
  6. Black Balloon
  7. Free of Me
  8. So Alive
  9. Sympathy
  10. Name
  11. Miracle Pill
  12. Bringing On the Light
  13. Over and Over
  14. Better Days
  15. Iris
  16. Broadway

Train Setlist

  1. Calling All Angels
  2. 50 Ways to Say Goodbye
  3. Get to Me
  4. If It’s Love
  5. Call Me Sir
  6. Save Me San Francisco
  7. Bruises
  8. Cab
  9. When I Look to the Sky
  10. Meet Virginia
  11. Running On Empty (Jackson Brown cover with Johnny Rzeznik)
  12. Marry Me
  13. Under Pressure (Queen cover)
  14. Drive By
  15. Angel in Blue Jeans
  16. Hey Soul Sister
  17. Play That Song
  18. Great Escape (Pat Monohan solo album song)
  19. Drops of Jupiter
About the Author

Christopher Reed

Christopher Reed has been attending and photographing concerts, modeling, and other events throughout the country and internationally for 5 years. He is an Arizona native that has spent much of his life across the United States and Europe. He has won worldwide photography contest from MasterCard and Alamo Rental Car and has worked with models of the prestigious Ford Modeling Agency. He is a lover of all things music, travel, and food.