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A Concert Review

May 15, 2001

The Riviera

Chicago, IL

A Review and Photos by
The Dude on the Right
I hadn’t been to The Riviera in Chicago to see a show in quite a while. It’s not that there haven’t been any good bands there, but mostly I got a little lazy, had to spend more time on my job that makes me money, and hated to pay the twenty bucks to park in a lot so that, hopefully, my car wouldn’t get busted into (The Riviera isn’t in the best of neighborhoods, but it is getting better). But Train was a band I was interested in seeing and with the opportunity put right in front of me, well, it was hopefully worth the drive through Cub’s traffic and maybe even worth the twenty bucks to park. I hoped it would be worth it. It was way worth it.

Now, my job is sometimes weird, especially for a place like The Riviera which is general admission, and especially for a sold-out, or at least it must have been really close to being sold-out show. As a photographer and a reviewer, at a show like this, for three songs I get the best spot in the house, right up against the stage, and then I get tossed out of the photo/security pit and usually end up in the worst spot in the house – way in the back, not really being able to see much. But as I watched Train for three songs and listened to them (every now and then sneaking a peek through the crowd), I began to appreciate a band that had built quite a following on really, what amounts to, two radio hits, those being "Meet Virginia" and their current "Drops of Jupiter." Train followers are fanatic, Train followers are dedicated, and Train followers know all of the words to all of the songs. Those things make a show of which you really don’t know much about a band even that much more enjoyable.

As the band opened with "Respect" and "It’s About You", both off their latest "Drops of Jupiter" CD, I could immediately see why Train is able to pack a place like The Riviera – they are a great live band. Pat Monahan as the lead vocal man knows how to work things on stage, from singing to all of the audience and then graciously accepting trinkets from the youngins thrilled to be so close to the show. And the rest of the band knows how to put on a show too. Guitarist Jimmy Stafford kept his solos and posing just long enough without being annoying, Scott Underwood on drums was able to pull off a drum solo without being blasé, and it was obvious that the years of touring had Train developing a fan base based on their music even though most of it has never hit the radio.

So, as I secured my spot next to a railing good for girl watching, good for an every now and then peek at the band, and good enough for being way at the back of the venue, it was time to follow along with my set-list I copied off of the stage and see how people reacted. Some songs did better than others, with the newer material seeming to get the better responses, but all along it seemed Train did a great job at just keeping things going. "I Wish You Would," one of my favoritist songs from the new CD, was great, as were songs like "She’s On Fire" and "Getaway", but what also surprised me was their great renditions of some covers, songs like "Ramble On" from Zeppelin and, oh shit, I hope I’m not wrong on this one, but I think it was "Last Child" from Aerosmith (it wasn’t on their set-list). The one thing that seemed wrong was after the band did "Drops of Jupiter," complete with everyone singing and holding their cell phones up in the air so their friends could hear. 

They followed "Drops…" with "Heavy," and where "Drops of Jupiter" got the crowd totally fired up, well, "Heavy" just seemed to bring things down. Maybe that’s just this reviewer observation.

Anyway, it was great to see a band that knew how to interact with their audience. From the good crowd banter of Pat, posing questions he has seen on their website pertaining to the cutest Train member (Pat tried to flaunt that Train is about the music and not the cutest member, but then, him having the mike, well, as far as he was concerned, he had the answer – "It’s me!"), to the great cover songs, to a great drum solo, to letting the crowd sing, it was obvious Train had their act together as a touring band. That leads me to this show’s rating of TWO "What the hell does ‘Drops of Jupiter’ mean anyway?" THUMBS UP!! They put on a great show – go see them!

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!



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