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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Live Review, 4/10/12: Train at Cafe Du Nord: Seven Good Things About the Band's Intimate Return to S.F.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 8:38 AM

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Train with fans from Australia and Sri Lanka
  • Train with fans from Australia and Sri Lanka

3. Train's singer moving back to S.F.

After bailing on the Bay Area for a posh Seattle suburb, Patrick Monahan has returned to the city after which the band named its last album. And although he poured on the hometown affection a little thick last night ("Only San Francisco could sing that good!"), we left grudgingly convinced that his stated love for the city was indeed sincere. "I would like to say, this is the most amazing city in the world," Monahan announced onstage toward the end of the show. "Now I've got a spot in the Presidio... I ran into the dude who founded Pandora today." He seemed genuinely awestruck.

2. Patrick Monahan's singing ability

We are only going to say this once: Dude has some pipes. They wore out a little toward the end of the show, but the power, clarity, and range of Monahan's vocals early on (especially compared with his low speaking tone) was impressive. Really.

1. Some of Train's songs

When they weren't being force-fed to us -- and when we weren't letting things like lyrics spoil the pleasure -- we found ourselves enjoying some Train songs. Yep, like the almost-rock of breezy new single "Drive By" (especially the line in the chorus "They don't like it/ Sue me"); the first-ever radio song (and show closer) "Meet Virginia"; "Bruises," for which Train brought out local singer Megan Slankard; and even "Drops of Jupiter," the band's breakout hit and still probably the most tasteful of its big singles. Of course we could only grit our teeth through "Save Me, San Francisco," and especially "Hey, Soul Sister," (as the room erupted in cheers and elated singalong and peering cameraphones). But that was to be expected. The degree to which we liked the others was not.

Naturally, Train's Drops of Jupiter wine was for sale at Du Nord last night.
  • Naturally, Train's Drops of Jupiter wine was for sale at Du Nord last night.

Critic's Notebook

By the way: After requesting press tickets to cover this show, Train's publicist called to ask me why the hell someone who had written such "vicious" (her word) things about the band would want to cover its show, and what exactly did I have in mind. I told her that having criticized the band so much, we owed it to Train (a local group, after all), to give its upcoming shows a chance, and that I'd try to go in with as open a mind as possible. Did I succeed in that? I'm sure you will let me know in the comments.

Also: Train is playing all this week at small S.F. clubs, but the shows are all sold out.

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