The "AM Gold" Tour @ North Island Amp in San Diego
Featuring Train, Jewel, Blues Traveler and Thunderstorm Artis
Photos by: Samantha Madnick
Words by: Rudy Flores
A breezy Tuesday evening set the stage for a night of beautiful music at the North Island Credit Union Amphitheater in San Diego and as the crowds started to roll in, so did a Thunderstom...Thunderstorm Artis that is. I know what you're thinking "a pun to start things off, really?", well I just couldn't help it so you'll have to forgive me. If the name sounds familiar then you've probably watched a few episodes of The Voice where Thunderstorm was a finalist during their 2020 spring season. Thunderstom's set started with a beautiful rendition of George Gershwin's "Summertime" that was right up there with Ella Fitzgerald's and Louis Armstrong's version. In short ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!
From classic covers like "Ain't No Sunshine" and his Voice audition song of "Black Bird", along side some mean blues harmonica riffs and intricate guitar playing over great hip-hop lyrics, Thunderstom Artis is the total package...and he was the opening act! Insane! Be sure to be on the lookout for his upcoming album "Take Me To The Fire" due to release this September 9th!
Next up were Blues Traveler with their blues rock sound that filled the amphitheater with good...no...GREAT vibes that had everyone singing along to their hit "But Anyway" and their Sublime cover of "What I Got". When "Run-Around" started the crowd went absolutely ape shit (as they should) and damn near everybody in the place was singing and out of their seats dancing along to their breakout hit. Towards the end of their set they brought out Ryan Warner the lead guitarist for Jewel (who was up next btw) for a good old fashioned jam session that melted faces from row one all the way to the cheap seats. "Hook" got the crowd swaying their arms from side to side and brought back feelings of nostalgia and a yearning for the days when artists knew how to just jam and have a blast...you know...when music was music...but I digress.
When Ryan Warner reappeared, we knew it was time for San Diego's own (by way of Alaska) Jewel to take a turn on the mic. Opening her set with "Standing Still" the "Diaster from Alaska" (as her intro put it) dawning a very 60's style retro fit belted out the 2001 hit to a now nearly packed venue of fans that were singing along to every single word, some sounding better than others (but that's neither here nor there). "Long Way Around" off of her latest studio release "Free Wheeling Woman" (Listen to Freewheelin' Woman here: https://orcd.co/freewheelinwoman) was next and gave off a very country rock/ Bonnie Raitt style vibe. The entire set was almost like a VH-1 Storytellers episode filled with tales from her beginnings and the inspirations for all the songs. There was even a section for fan requests and yes...she yodeled...FAST!! Like Eminem "Monster" fast! Bet you never thought you'd hear those two mentioned in the same article. The set ended with her first single "Who Will Save Your Soul" and the growly voice that pushed her into the limelight moved people to their feet for an almost amphitheater wide standing ovation.
I have to say never having been to a Jewel show before I was thoroughly impressed with not only her vocals which were out of this world but the confidence and stage presence. Jewel has definitely grown as an artist throughout the yearsand clearly every trial and tribulation has made Jewel an incredible artist.
Last but certainly not least and the reason for the AM GOLD Tour, TRAIN came out to close the night. Their new album "AM GOLD" is the ninth studio album released through Columbia Records back in May of 2022 and it's absolutely nuts that this is their first studio album in FIVE YEARS!!
Anyways, let's get into it...
Opening with a track off the new album and also the album's namesake "AM GOLD", the entire amphitheater rose to their feet as the lights dimmed and the stage began to glow with a huge and very Soul-Train-esk lighting display complete with TRAIN written in the same font. The upbeat tune with a message of learning to love yourself even when others don't, resonated with concert goers and was really a perfect start to their set. The vast setlist included many of their well known hits like "Meet Virginia" where during the song Pat Monahan displayed an impressive throwing arm as he tossed shirts bearing the song title into the crowd INCLUDING the one off his back after having the band sign it mid performance. Pat then showed off his catching abilities as some of the braver audience members tossed their phones to him for some selfies that I'm sure were all over Instagram and Facebook before the tune ended. During "Save Me San Francisco" the guys from TRAIN showed off their huge balls...and their tiny ones too as beach balls flew through the crowd.
Blues Traveler front man John Popper "popped up" (sorry) during their performance of "Bruises", which started off with Pat, and his awesome background singers Nikita Houston and Sakai Smith belting out the heart felt tune right before it turned into a cover of "Love The One Your With" for a special treat for the crowd. It was followed by Jewel and Mr. Monahan coming together to perform a song "they wrote the night before" as they put it. That song....yeah, it was the 1976 Eurodisco classic "Dancing Queen" by ABBA that brought out the audience's "dancing skills" which was fun to watch despite the lack of rhythm.
Train's big hits like "Marry Me", "Calling All Angels", and "Hey Soul Sister" rounded out the night along with covers of The Beatles' "Hey Jude" and "Vacation" by The Dirty Heads. As the night came to a close fans (like always) wanted more so TRAIN wrapped up the evening with their rendition of the Aerosmith 73' classic rock monster hit song "Dream On" and "Drops of Jupiter" off their 2001 album of which the it was named after.
As the crowds filed out of the North Island Credit Union Amphitheater (such a long name) you could hear fans still singing excerpts from their favorite songs and going on about all their favorite parts of the evening. The AM GOLD Tour still has about 13 dates left so check and see if they are coming your way and scoop up some tickets for a night of amazing music and throw backs. You definitely won't regret it!!