Big Balls, Small Talk & An Engagement: Better Than Ezra & Train Pleases Crowd Friday Night
The crowd was ready for the worst but got the best when they made their way through the gates of the Maine Savings Amphitheater Friday night.
Capitalizing on that feeling of nostalgia, the concert provided the audience with two 90s favorites, Louisiana-based Better Than Ezra (fronted by Kevin Griffin) and San Francisco-based Train (fronted by Pat Monahan).
Most in the crowd came prepared to have fun, sporting tour shirts underneath rain ponchos, and an overall positive attitude filled the amphitheater, as Better Than Ezra (BTE) took to the stage first.
Right out of the gate, their energy and sense of humor were on point. Griffin joked about how wet the day had been, as it had indeed poured for most of the morning and afternoon.
He commented that it had been a while since BTE had been up to Bangor and that the last time they were here, they were hanging out with Maine's own Howie Day.
To the delight of the crowd, Griffin, who co-wrote one of Day's biggest hits, launched right into it, singing his interpretation of "Collide."
He jokingly called out the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, saying he had tried to phone in a favor and get them to play with the band, but that they were busy.
BTE performed all of their greatest hits, a number of snippets of covers from bands like Sublime, Rolling Stones, and Rush.
Some of the highlights included a song they had most recently recorded for the new Farley Brothers film, a cover of "Never Tear Us Apart" from INXS, and their version of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" with a custom recording of the piano part performed by Sir Elton himself.
To the delight of the crown, when they finished, the band went to the merch section and signed t-shirts.
At 8 PM sharp, Train came out on stage swinging, with a flashy light show, releasing huge beach balls into the audience and playing "Save Me San Francisco" the title track of their 5th studio album, released in 2006.
Monihan proceeded to greet everyone, telling the crowd the band's drummer, Drew Shoals, was from Portland, and had asked him to throw some t-shirts into the crowd, so Monihan did, after autographing them first. (Check out an interview with Shoals for Vic Firth here... it's pretty cool.)
Giving the audience exactly what they wanted, Train brought out all of their favorites, including "Soul Sister" and "Meet Virginia", which Monihan explained the band heard for the first time on the radio, right here in Maine.
He then brought Griffin back out on stage, and the two did a cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl."
A particularly cool moment in the show came when Monihan brought out his 10-year-old son, Rock Monihan (who is following in his famous dad's footsteps and becoming quite the rock singer himself) and sang with him "Save The Day."
Monihan would bring his son back out on stage for a great mash-up of "Calling All Angels" and Journey's "Faithfully."
Fans ate it all up, singing along to all the songs and dancing in their seats.
A couple from Dixfield even got engaged at the show. Stephanie and Jason had been together for 6 years when Jason finally decided to pop the question at the concert.
Thankfully it was only happy nostalgia, and not rain, that moved across the crowd in waves. And this crowd couldn't be happier to soak it all in.
And if Friday's concert was any indication of just how much Maine loves going back in time when it comes to music, the upcoming Goo-Goo Dolls concert on September 29th will be another almost sold-out show.