12 June 2012
You wouldn't know it if you watched them. You wouldn't guess that this San Francisco group on the stage of Melbourne's Palais Theatre dressed in non-descript hoodies, t-shirts and denim jeans have won 3 Grammies, been nominated for 8 and have achieved quintuple platinum status.
PHOTO GALLERY: Check out all the snaps from the gig here!
But this is "Train's" charm: they're modest, they're accessible, they've taken honest pub rock to the stadium and, judging by the crowds of juniors, seniors and easy going in-betweeners, this is a successful recipe for reaching a large cross-section of Australians.
42-year-old front man, Patrick Monahan, looks fit and relaxed on stage despite making the periodic crutch shift in jeans that are probably a little too tight. An elevated drummer, solid guitar, keys and a trumpet player support him, each dressed up for a stroll to the corner shop for a packet of crisps. Two sequined lady back-up singers were not enough to dissuade me from wanting more sparkle (See, I'd usually choose the shiny and untouchable musician over the unassuming boy next-door variety, but that's just me and on this occasion, it's safe to say, I was definitely in the minority).
WATCH Train perform an acoustic version of 'HEY SOUL SISTER'!
But whatever "Train" lacked in sparkle, they made up for in lung power. Monahan was pitch perfect, so much so, that after a strong performance of "Meet Virginia", a friend commented on his lip-syncing ability. Later, as if to prove he was indeed the real deal, Monahan stepped away from the microphone to sing "Marry Me" a capella. A belting sincerity filled the Palais making women swoon and partners cover their mouth's to stifle soft murmurs of 'I will, Patrick, I will.'
"Train's" musicianship is good, but their knack for playing on the audience's heartstrings is better. A collective gush goes out when a young boy is given an acoustic to play air guitar with on stage. When the boy's mum joins him and the audience watch memories etch, "Train" wins us over completely. We get sucked into their rendition of Aerosmith's "Dream On", dance a little to "Soul Sister" and even sway to the grandiose, "Drops of Jupiter".
Sure, a lot of it is schmaltzy Americana, but no one cares. No one even raises an eyebrow when Monahan attempts to 'drop rhymes' in their latest release, "Drive" and we ask ourselves whether the crutch shifting was simply part of their new hip hop flavour. No one cares about this stuff because we know it comes from a genuine place, from a genuine bunch of guys who just happen to know how to deliver solid pop-rock anthems that make a big portion of the population pretty warm and happy. And on a wet and miserable Melbourne winter night, we couldn't really ask for much more.
Review: Holly Muir - The Take40 Team
Photos: Leigh Wilkins