Thursday 3rd May 2012

HMV Apollo, Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom 

Having had phenomenal worldwide success with their sixth studio album ‘California 37’ and its first single ‘Drive By’ (the single has been certified RIAA platinum), San Franciscan band Train embarked on a 2012 world tour which included four nights in the UK alongside their other European dates. Opening with ‘50 Ways to Say Goodbye’, trumpet player Brian Switz began with the Mexican fiesta introduction as the bright lights lit up the simple backdrop of a California 37 road sign.

‘This I’ll Be my Year’ saw Pat Monahan running around the stage whilst picking up cameras from the front row and taking photos of himself before handing them back to the surprised crowd. Even though Monahan is a bubbly frontman, he was a little bit nervous as the Hammersmith Apollo (which that night  had a capacity of 5000) was their biggest London show to date having previously played smaller venues such as Dingwalls, O2 Islington Academy and O2 Shepherds Bush Empire.

However, he soon became at ease with a trio of late 90s and early 2000s tracks ‘Meet Virginia’, ‘Calling All Angels’ and ‘Get To Me’ which included a very touchy-feely man and petite blonde female both playing tambourine. Monahan joked ‘What just happened?’ after handing them Train 2012 tour t-shirts as a thank you.

‘Mermaid’ was mind-blowing as Scott Underwood laid down a funky drum beat with Hector Maldonado on bass guitar while Jerry Becker played catchy guitar. However, when trumpeter Brian Switz returned Pat Monahan picked up a shiny Saxophone and a remarkable horn duet commenced. The stage then became empty apart from Scott Underwood who treated us to a rocking drum solo which was thoroughly enjoyable, without being tedious.

Having a dislike of encores, the band continued with Jimmy Stafford playing the Ukele for their hit ‘Hey Soul Sister’ before everyone sang the UK Top Ten single ‘Drive By’ and the 2001 Grammy award winning ‘Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)’. Jimmy Stafford’s haunting electric guitar on title track ‘California 37’ echoed around the auditorium along with Jerry Becker’s mellow keyboard.  Closing with ‘Sing Together’, couples embraced each other as everyone ‘oohed’ during this magical moment of relaxed group harmony.

They have an accomplished songbook, outstanding musical ability and to quote one of their songs ‘replaced greed with gratitude’ when it came to their fans as they gave away guitar plectrums, drumsticks, t-shirts and even a signed acoustic guitar in one evening having been in awe of the thousands of supporters. This is most definitely a first class Train ticket which offers you an entertaining and powerful journey to the sounds of San Francisco.

By Glenn Sargeant