Train @ Shepherds Bush Empire
25th October 2010
An already heaving Sheperds Bush crowd have gathered for the support band tonight. Now whether or not that is due to the opening act AM being a cracking act who are out of my radar range, or that the sellout crowd is very eager for tonight’s headliners. After the first AM track I was certain it was the latter.
Train did not go out on a limb with their support, bringing another American country influenced group not so dissimilar from their own. It was a safe bet and surprisingly they were ok. Train have occupied a special place in my CD collection for a long time, all be it an isolated one. Hence AM as much as they were soulful with a hint of country breaking though their indie twanged melodies, I found it hard to remember them post show. Being memorable is a tough trick to perform, one they will need to do more of before making it big in the UK.
It took over one hour fifteen minutes for Train to arrive onstage. This was really infuriating as out in this packed crowd, it was bloody hot. The venue decided to turn off the air-con for us as well to make matters worse! I know the government cuts were harsh but this was idiotic, I even saw a girl looking slightly queasy before almost passing out! An increasingly frustrated crowd resorted to countdown claps and the occasional boo. I ask myself, Is it really necessary to keep your audience waiting for so long? I suppose it could have been worse though, we could be waiting on Axl Rose!
Finally they arrived and went straight into Parachute taken from their latest LP Save Me San Francisco. Almost at one I was astonished at just how amazing Patrick Monahan’s vocals were. They were instantly strikingly powerful and so clean it feels he is singing only to you. His voice would leave all but the highest calibre of pop singers whimpering in the corner. Truly astonishing, hitting some of the toughest notes with apparent ease conveying both heart wrenching and heartfelt passion with equal skill.
After you have warmed to his overbearingly ‘nice smiley’ persona he becomes a front man of the highest order. He is adept at crowd interaction continuously asking the fans for ‘favours’ which ranged from pulling up a group of girls to be his ‘Trainettes‘ (complete with T-Shirts saying so) to sing the chorus of She’s On Fire, to holding mobile phone aloft during If It’s Love, even asking for calm not to manhandling him during a walk through the middle fo the crowd. He was a good laugh and his quips were genuinely funny which made him all the more a likable character.
Pat on his Walkies
After as many years as Train have under their belts it no surprise to report they are an extremely competent live band. Set Highlights included the anthemic Hey, Soul Sister, a shortened countryfied romp-a-stomper version of She’s On Fire, clever laid back rhymes of I Got You and the irrepressible mega-ballad Drops Of Jupiter. The moment which tops them all was during the performance of When I Look To The Sky when Pat sang the opening verse with NO microphone or backing band. showcasing his great set of pipes. Loaded with passion and heart, I was touched by this show of honest emotion.
Returning for the encore we part of a very odd request, ‘be in the video for our upcoming Christmas Song’. Sure enough they donned the red of Santa while playing a strangely enjoyable tune Shake Up Christmas. To finish on a high, Pat spoke to the crowd to apologise for their absence from these shores (…but not for being late!) while doing a jukebox of the songs they missed tonight. Prompted by crowd suggestions. This little skit contained Something More, Free & Mississippi before finally signed off with It Ain’t Goodbye, rounding off what was a master class in highly entertaining pop!