Train

Train

with Vertical Horizon and Old Pike

The Roxy Theatre, Atlanta, GA • November 11, 1999

The sign out front said “Sold Out,” but as I snuck in the back door, I noticed empty seats in the balcony. Train was playing the Roxy with Vertical Horizon and Old Pike. As I ducked past security guards and blended into the crowd, Old Pike was already finishing up what sounded like a set of standard rock tunes with standard rock poses and standard rock guitar slashes. I crept up to the balcony and slouched in my seat, trying to keep a low profile while awaiting Vertical Horizon.

The old Roxy began filling in, and by the time Vertical Horizon took the stage, the theatre was filled with the screams of teenage girls. They performed songs from their new CD, Everything You Want . The crowd sung along and swayed to the music. By the time they closed with their hit “On The Radio,” all the teenage girls were just frothing over and whipped into a frenzy.

After they left the stage, incense and candles were lit as the five members of Train stepped onto the stage with the Sneaker Pimps’ “6 Underground” as a musical backdrop. For Patrick Monahan, Jimmy Stafford, Rob Hotchkiss, Scott Underwood and Charles Colin, this was their second night of a tour built on the success of their debut self-titled CD. The San Francisco fivesome opened with “Sweet Rain,” followed by a powerful rendition of “Free”. Singer Patrick Monahan pulled out a number of instruments, including sax, trumpet, flute, and a variety of percussion instruments. Lead guitarist Jimmy Stafford also doubled on mandolin. The set consisted mostly of songs from their CD, as well as a few new originals they had recently written and were trying out before an audience. Patrick and Jimmy were the most dynamic of the group, and really got into the music and the sounds they were creating. Guitarist and co-founder Rob Hotchkiss and bassist Charlie Colin barely made their presence known occasionally stepping out from under the shadows of the stage lights. And drummer Scott Underwood seemed overpowered by the energy Patrick’s playing his odd assortment of percussion instruments.

After a strong set of opening songs, they band followed with a cover of a Led Zeppelin song. By the fifth song, things slowed down horribly. The screams that I heard during Vertical Horizon disappeared during Patrick’s extended sax solo. During “Blind,” I began hearing more and more chatter from the audience. By stretching out the songs in an attempt to sound “soulful” (a la Michael Bolton), Train began losing their audience. Perhaps Patrick sensed this when he dedicated “I Am” to the audience, and then backed it up with their hit “Meet Virginia.” Here the audience picked back up, and even sang a verse back to the band. But it was a little too late. The Roxy crowd began filing out before the end of the concert. When the band returned for their encore, Patrick thanked the members of the audience that remained, and brought out special guest Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20 to sing a disjointed version of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me.”

Hopefully, Train has tightened up their act. Their songs defy pop structure. Each song is a story. It’s a shame that live, Train cannot retell that story and engage the audience at the same time. The woman next to me (who actually had a ticket for the show) told me their CD was great despite her boredom at the concert. Well, their Web page contains some nice photos from their MTV “Meet Virginia” video shoot, so check it out at http://www.trainline.com.

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