Summerfest Daily Highlights: Friday, June 29
Train and Kelly Clarkson, Jimmy Cliff and Morris Day and The Time
Train and Kelly Clarkson w/ Brett Dennen
Marcus Amphitheater, 7:30 p.m.
The San Francisco pop-rock trio Train is living out one of modern music's great comeback stories. Though the group found some early success with impassioned turn-of-the-century singles like “Meet Virginia” and “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me),” they'd been all but forgotten by the time they released 2006's commercial brick For Me, It's You. They received their second shot at stardom when their sleeper 2009 single “Hey, Soul Sister” crawled its way to the top of radio playlists, becoming one of 2010's most inescapable songs and making them once again one of adult-contemporary rock's biggest acts.
Train co-headlines this bill with Kelly Clarkson, who has experienced her own career ups and downs since winning the inaugural season of “American Idol” in 2002. Her albums have cast her as a sophisticated young diva (2003's Thankful), a jaded rock girl (2004's mega-hit Breakaway), a tortured soul (2007's career-slowing My December) and a thinking man's Katy Perry (2009's All I Ever Wanted). Her latest album, Stronger, is another makeover of sorts: It's her most country-leaning record yet. —Evan Rytlewski
Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard with Coors Light & Tap Milwaukee, 10 p.m.
Few reggae albums are as widely revered as 1972's The Harder They Come, the soundtrack to the cult hit that starred Jimmy Cliff. The film and its soundtrack, which featured many of Cliff's best songs, were instrumental in introducing reggae to the masses outside of Jamaica, and though Cliff would never be the genre's biggest star—his label, Island, focused its resources on promoting Bob Marley instead, a tactic that ultimately paid off—he's still regarded as one of its all-time greats. It's something of a miracle that his voice (dulcet and supple, nothing like the voice you'd expect from the hardened rebel he depicted in the film) has aged as well as it has; judging from last year's Sacred Fire EP, it's lost none of its softness. A covers-heavy affair, the EP allowed Jimmy Cliff to pay homage to some of the artists he's inspired, with versions of The Clash's “Guns of Brixton” and Rancid's “Ruby Soho.” It also includes an inspired version of “A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall” by Bob Dylan, who once described Cliff's 1970 single “Vietnam” as the greatest protest song ever written. —Evan Rytlewski
Morris Day and The Time
BMO Harris Pavilion with Miller Lite, 9:45 p.m.
When your high-school buddy is Prince, you've got no choice but to carry yourself with style and flair. Fortunately for Morris Day, who reminded the world that “Gigolos Get Lonely Too,” he's got groove to spare.
As part of the rock-infused funk band The Time, Day has been sharing his talents with the masses for more than three decades. The 1981 debut album The Time produced three singles, “Cool,” “Girl” and “Get It Up,” and the 1980s Minneapolis music scene was at a high point when Day and The Time burst further into public consciousness with a role in the cult classic Purple Rain. In 1990, The Time rose to No. 1 on the R&B charts with the dance-funk hit “Jerk Out."
The power of songs like “Jungle Love” has continued to earn nothing but affection. That song, along with Morris Day and The Time themselves, played a memorable part in the Kevin Smith film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
Day isn't about to fall behind the times, either. He performed with Rihanna during the 2008 Grammy Awards and continues to tour the nation, striking the right mix of old-school sounds, new tunes and slick dance moves. —Robbie Hartman