Review and photo by Peter Coates
The original band’s front man Patrick Monahan is Train now, offering up a greatest hits set, with a terrific sound and production, supported by a band of very competent session musicians and two female backing vocalists bulking up the harmonies.
Brilliant atmosphere in the intimate Tivoli, with queues round the block, and the venue jam packed by the time the support act, J.R. Reyne has finished his set of folk blues ballads. The lights go down to the sound of approaching train whistles, and the black-clad band takes to the stage.
Drink Up and 50 Ways to Say Goodbye kick the set off, before If It’s Love starts the mobile phone selfies, videos and recordings taken by Pat with phones from various ladies in the front rows.
Angel in Blue Jeans and Get to Me feature some terrific vocals from the front man, who has touches of Adam Lambert and even Ricky Martin in his delivery. Save Me, San Francisco, Calling All Angels and Bruises roll by before the gig kicks up a notch with the excellent Meet Virginia featuring some sensational guitar work from Luis Maldonado, full harmony backing vocals from the whole band, and then the slightly schmaltzy handing out Tshirts….but still certainly engaging while the band continued rocking out.
Drive By reminds you that there is a sense of some Latin pop/rock in a few songs, whether from the rhythms or the delivery, and then the raucous crowd gets into it with Marry Me, a gentle ballad with a crowd singalong, seemingly driven by the audience desire for Pat specifically.
We are then treated to a new song Silver Dollar, featuring Supertramp style piano under a white boy rap, like something Bruno Mars might do if fronting Matchbox 20. The recent Train shows have all featured a variety of covers, some of them with special guests, and while we didn’t have a guest, we got Under Pressure as a cover, which some might think an unnecessary inclusion, but the track really showcases the vocals of lead guitarist Luis Maldonado playing twin-neck Gibson, and delivering a version that was way more Queen than Bowie.
Working Girl and another upbeat medley of covers including Island Jam and Lost and Found kept the crowd bouncing, before the slightly understated climax of Soul Sister featuring ukulele and percussion, which provided a bare and stripped down version of the hit single, followed in the same fashion by Play That Song, with a huge crowd intro which gave an almost karaoke feel, but both are clearly very clever versions of hugely popular songs.
A short exit, and a lot of noise, before the band reappeared to the unmistakable riff of Led Zep’s Whole Lotta Love in which Monahan shows a clean set of pipes and the two guitarists clearly enjoy the riff and the white noise piece, with Maldonando sticking faithfully to the solo, and with some solid drumming from Drew Shoals and all the vocals just nailed. There was only one song left to play, and without any fuss, the band rolled through a classic Drops of Jupiter as the set-closer – a pop classic performed true to the recording.
Great to see the songs played by a terrific band in a more intimate little venue, and clearly no complaints from the majority of the crowd who only have eyes for Monahan as being the band. Perhaps we should feel for the guys who made Train famous and set the stage for him to now play the hits around the world, but there is no denying that the whole performance was professional and impassioned, and never felt like a commercial cash-grab.