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Concert Reviews:
Train Rides The Right Track At Royal Oak Show
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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ROYAL OAK -- It takes a little bit of chutzpah for a band to come into a town with one of its favorite sons as the opening act. But Train, who's currently on the road with Detroit product Uncle Kracker, managed to pull it off without suffering any partisan rancor on Tuesday night (Nov. 3) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre.

The quintet, first of all, had the good sense to give Kracker and his crew props during its headline set. Frontman Pat Monahan announced early on that "Uncle Kracker kicks ass" and commented later about how much Train was enjoying being on the road with him. But Train also had the goods to win the night, from hit singles such as "Calling All Angels" and "Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)" to first-class staging (complete with two video screens) and a bit of fresh excitement in coming back from a three-year hiatus with a new album, "Save Me, San Francisco."

And there was a genial levity to the group's hour-and-45-minute set that complemented the melodic earnestness of its ouvre. Monahan, who was in strong voice after battling the flu early in the tour, is a self-deprecating showman with a friendly countenance that sits just this side of goofy, whether he's emoting on ballads such as "Get To Me" and an acoustic "I Am," bringing a chorus of four female "Trainettes" on stage to sing and dance during "She's On Fire" or bringing another woman up to serenade guitarist Jimmy Stafford on "Save the Day."

Train gave "Save Me, San Francisco" a good ride on Tuesday, offering up five songs from the album during the 19-song set -- including the ukulele-driven single, "Hey, Soul Sister," and "I Got You," which makes liberal use of the Doobie Brothers' "Black Water" in both its melody and lyrics. Longtime Train passengers were happy to hear less-celebrated fare such as "Love to the Sky," "I Got You," "Ordinary" from the "Spider-Man 2" soundtrack and a medley of "I Wish You Would" and "Free," during which Monahan traded falsetto vocal licks with Detroit-born bassist Hector Moldonado. Covers of Led Zeppelin's "Going to California" and Aerosmith's "Dream On" gave the show a bit more hit appeal, though Monahan made sure it ended on an earthy note with a solo performance of the new album's "Marry Me."

Kracker offered up a couple covers of his own -- his hit version of "Drift Away" as well as a nod to good pal Kid Rock with his "All Summer Long." Sporting a fedora and plaid work shirt, Kracker also played "Smile," the current single from his new album, "Happy Hour," and wove a bit of Alice Cooper's "Be My Lover" into "In a Little While" and a verse of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" into "Follow Me" during the short but well-received 40-minute, nine-song set.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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