[LIVE REVIEW] Train @ Palais Theatre, Melbourne – 04/08/2017

The Palais Theatre Melbourne is one of the most beautiful venues in a perfect location right on St Kilda beach, however in the depths of winter, it can make for a bitterly cold wait for doors to open. Nonetheless it was a very dedicated fan base gathered in the icy wind waiting patiently to see Train in their final performance of their current “Play That Song” Australian tour.

Hailing from San Francisco, Train, who came together in 1994, have had a string of hits over the years, most notably ‘Drops of Jupiter’ which took out not one but two Grammy’s in 2002. Now having released their tenth studio album, ‘A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat’, and only having Pat Monahan left from the original line up, the 7-piece outfit still wow audiences across the tour.

For tonights performance they have enlisted JR Reyne to open the show. If the name sounds familiar, it should as JR is the son of iconic Australian musician James Reyne.

Bathed in just a stream of golden yellow light, JR took to the stage armed only with his acoustic guitar.

Without having any expectations of whether or not JR would sound like his famous father, it was an exceptionally gifted voice being delivered to us. JR‘s range and vocal strength was remarkable, and somewhat mesmerizing.

Knocking out some original pieces and also a brilliant rendition of Springsteen‘s ‘I’m on Fire’, it was clear that JR did not need the association of his surname, as his talent was far more than his name.

His banter with the crowd coupled with his fantastic guitar skills made for a more than entertaining start to the night.

After a brief interval, the house lights dimmed, and the sound of- you guessed it- a train, could be heard throughout the theatre. A subtle whistle and chug followed by a rousing round of applause and cheers from the audience as Train entered the stage.

Opening proceedings with the very upbeat ‘Drink Up’ from their most recent offering, it was the perfect song to get the crowd fired up.

During ’50 Ways to Say Goodbye’ we saw frontman Pat Monahan take a phone from a fan and take a cheeky selfie, shortly after which he used his own device to take video of the whole audience.

‘If It’s Love’ and ‘Angel in Blue Jeans’ were next and got the fans singing, but standing is where Pat wanted them, so he hinted in jest that he would under- perform if the audience remained seated, so with that, the hint was taken and everybody got to their feet for “Save Me San Francisco’

As we approached what was just about half way into the main set, Pat brought up onto the stage a young man named Joss. Plucked very surprisingly from the audience, as he had been observed singing every song word for word, and was asked to join the band for the song ‘Bruises’.  He did an awesome job and received a warm round of applause for his efforts.

Two more songs on, the hit ‘Meet Virginia’ and ‘Drive By’ before what I can only describe as my absolute highlight of the evening. Pat took a moment to explain that he was really enjoying playing in such a beautiful old style theatre, and that he wanted to do a song that was suited so the venue, for the purpose that they were built. With that he ditched the microphone and sang an amazing version of one of his solo songs ‘Always Midnight’.

With the stunning backing vocals by Sakai Smith, Nikita Houston and the Maldonados, it was an absolutely beautiful moment, which not only silenced the audience, but also seated them from their previously standing positions, until they rose again to give a hearty standing ovation.

Breaking to mood set by the song, Pat joked about having dumped the girl about whom the song was written.

Moving into ‘Marry Me’ (including an extra line of ‘We will’ from enthusiastic fans), ‘Silver Dollar’ and a great little medley of songs including ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Cheap Thrills’

Radio hit ‘Hey Soul Sister’ was given a huge welcome, and was sung loudly by fans, as was ‘Play That Song’, not surprisingly the last song of the main set, as this tour is named after the track.

As the band exited the stage it was inevitable they would return as their most famous and biggest selling hit was yet to come.

Returning after an ever so brief moment, the got straight into ‘Parachute’ and then a slightly unexpected tune, being a fantastic version of the classic hit ‘Under Pressure’ by Queen ft David Bowie which was executed beautifully.

Then the crescendo, with ‘Drops of Jupiter’, and it did not disappoint, not one little bit.

Pat’s vocals still every bit as emotive as they were all those years ago. A class performance all round.

I think it is a testament to them that after all these years they are still producing a lot of music and continue to put out both quality and popular songs, and to perform them live to such a high standard.

I only wish I had followed them more closely from the early days. That being said, I will be checking out the entire back catalogue and hoping to pick up a few gems for my collection. Let’s just hope they get back to Oz again so that we can absorb more of this goodness.

Review contributed my Jodi Marino