This summer, the OC Fair has become my favorite spot to see a show. The Pacific Amphitheater is gorgeous, the night air is perfectly chilled and the acts have been phenomenal, with a range from alt-rocker Matt Nathanson to country crooner Hunter Hayes all the way to last night's multi-platinum Grammy Award-winning Train.
And as fantastic as Orange County's fair is, their talent rises to the occasion as well. Opening band Midnight Hour hails from the OC, and they took the stage promptly at 7:30pm to a venue a little over half full already.
It became evident that lead singer Brad Lodge was not only dressed to kill, he was there to slay. Lodge is ready: for the big stage, for a crowd that sings his lyrics back to him, to be on the covers of magazines. With a definitive style that is equal parts rock star and designer, he already looks the part, and paired with his incredible voice and stage presence, he is the part.
By the time the band finished playing, the venue was nearly full, and as each song closed, there was a murmuring throughout the crowd as people tried to sing along to the chorus. Without seemingly any effort, these songs are catchy and radio friendly. Look for Midnight Hour to be one to watch.
Train has frequented the charts since "Meet Virginia" hit the airwaves in 1999, following with hit after hit from each album. They are one of those bands that everyone loves, or at the very least, likes, because they offer a little something for everybody.
Nearly 8,000 people showed up to see Train on Sunday night, and it became very clear why after only one or two songs: Pat Monahan is a study in how artists should treat their fans.
He proves nice guys don't finish last, with crowd interaction that varied from taking selfies with over a dozen people's phones while singing "If It's Love" to throwing out t-shirts, including the signed one off his back (women were clamoring for that one!), to eventually coming out into the crowd and walking the length of the arena through a row in the middle of the section and singing "Bruises" while he did it.
If you were there, you weren't simply watching a concert, you were participating in it, as well.
Train played all the old favorites while sneaking in a few lesser known and newer ones, including a couple off the upcoming album, which Monahan mentioned would be released in January.
As he sang a few bars off one of the new ones, "The News," completely a cappella, it was clear why Train is still relevant after all these years. As a Train fan, I can honestly say that "The News" is already one of my favorite Train songs, and it shouldn't surprise me that Monahan finds a way to trump everything he does.
He is one of those songwriters that stays innovative and constantly pushing forward. We haven't heard anything stagnant from Train throughout their whole career, and that is perhaps the rarest quality in a band that's been playing together for nearly two decades.
Train returned for an encore to play the fitting "Hotel California," and end the night with their biggest hit to date, "Drops of Jupiter."
A perfect night at a perfect venue achieved yet again.