Live Review: Train Palaias Theatre

11 June 2012 | 4:20 pm | Brendan Hitchens

Although the crowd humour him laughter, they’re clearly not the biggest fans of ‘80s metal

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Californian band Train walk onstage to rapturous applause. Singer Patrick Monahan looks and moves like a slightly older Robbie Williams. Dressed casually, though suave as ever, he is a true frontman. Playing to the crowd, he invites female audience members up on stage and also a nine-year-old boy at one point, asking him to play guitar. Though he lives the rockstar façade, when Monahan sings You Can Finally Meet My Mom, an ode to his late mother, he instantly becomes human. Other songs may warrant greater airplay or earn the band significantly more money, but it's clear this is the song Monahan gets the most joy from. Retreating from centre stage for a moment to compose himself, he returns to the mic, issues a soft and solemn “thanks” before resuming proceedings.

Mid-set, the band's cover of Aerosmith's Dream On fills the room with a wall of sound and, for the first time in the night, you feel you're not in a theatre, but rather at a rock concert. Monahan laments the irony of his childhood American idol, Steven Tyler, now being celebrated for his role in the television series of the same name. Although the crowd humour him laughter, they're clearly not the biggest fans of '80s metal.

Playing from each of their six albums, Train has the luxury of handpicking a 'best of' set, culminating with a trifecta of their biggest: Hey Soul Sister and Drive By simultaneously follow each other, segued by their similarity. Written by the same Norwegian songwriting team in Espionage, they're surefire hits and have the crowd on their feet. Drops Of Jupiter sounds like The Beatles. Beginning with the reverberating minor chords of Imagine played out on piano, before finishing with a coda featuring as many “nah-nah-nahs” as Hey Jude, it's repetitious in all the right parts, as if written for radio. It's the song the band have built their 18-year career around and little wonder it's reserved until the end. There's even a nostalgic factor to it, granted it's now 11-years-old. It draws mixed emotion, mostly smiles and cheers, but also the odd tears.

Train are a career band and they play with the professionalism of one. They may have a handful of disposable, radio-friendly songs that grab people, but tonight proves it's the other songs that retain their attention.

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