• Review

Review: Train with Goo Goo Dolls at Riverbend Music Center

Train’s 2019 summer tour with the Goo Goo Dolls rolled into Cincinnati this week on a beautiful and unseasonably cool July evening. The one-two punch of these two popular bands assured a well-attended show, so it was not a surprise that the lawn at Riverbend became extremely crowded fairly early in the evening as fans arrived to stake a good spot. 

Starting the evening was Allen Stone, who performed a short set and welcomed appreciatively by the crowd as they continued to file in. A personable performer, Stone had just the right mix of tunes to fit in perfectly as the night’s opener.

Check out photos from the show!

Within a matter of minutes, the stage was reset, and the Goo Goo Dolls came running out to a very enthusiastic crowd. Johnny Rzeznik and Robbie Takac have had a library of hits through the years and they ran through most of them with Takac’s high energy stage presence at the forefront. While Rzeznik stayed mostly in place at the microphone, Takac’s barefoot high kicks, headbanging and ear-to-ear grins were so entertaining that it was hard to take your eyes away from him. “Black Balloon” had a black balloon drop from stage and, although completely expected, made a great impression. Big hits “Slide,” “Name” and “Iris” had fans singing along word for word and closer “Broadway” was the perfect song to end their set. The Goo Goo Dolls know how to make their fans happy and they certainly did so with this performance.

Train opened their set with their customary video graphics as frontman Patrick Monahan strolled out to thunderous applause. There were plenty of bells and whistles on hand for this performance, starting with background fireworks during first song “Calling All Angels”. Confetti cannons lined the edge of the stage and were shot off during “50 Ways to Say Goodbye”, much to the delight of the fans seated in the first few rows. 

Monahan is notorious for filming himself on fan cellphones and this show was no different than others. What was surprising was how far the fans had to throw, not toss or hand, their phones to get them to him – and they did not hesitate for a moment to do it. Monahan sang through an entire song playing catch and film with the audience and, as far as I know, no phones were shattered in the process.

Train has no shortage of hits and they had a very large and surprisingly young crowd singing along to older popular songs “Meet Virginia” and “Hey, Soul Sister.” The beach balls came out for “Save Me San Francisco” and that only amped-up the party atmosphere. One of the more interesting moments was when Monahan brought out opener Allen Stone to sing “Bruises” with him and in his words “perform together in probably a most inappropriate manner,” but it was all in good fun and really well-received.

Train included several covers during their set, including Tom Petty’s “American Girl” with bits of “Free Falling” tagged on to the end and Queen’s “Under Pressure.” The most surprising cover was Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker,” which popped up as the first song of the encore. 

As the night drew to a close and the lighters came out, the band played their final song, the popular “Drops of Jupiter.” Swaying in unison and not missing a word, most of the crowd stayed in place until the last notes were played. From the comments overheard as I was leaving, it was clear that this tour is a hit with fans of both bands and proves that good music not only brings the generations together but lasts more than a lifetime.