Train will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, and based on Saturday nights performance at Starlight Theatre, it appears the band isnt going away any time soon.
By TIMOTHY FINN
The Kansas City Star
More than 6,000 fans showed up Saturday, and they got their moneys worth: an evening filled with familiar songs and a warm, communal spirit.
It all started with the opener, Michael Franti and Spearhead, who spent an hour splashing sunny, hippie vibes all around the amphitheater. Few performers can rouse a crowd into a sing-along/dance-along mood as quickly and effortlessly as Franti does.
He declared Starlight the most beautiful amphitheater in America, then spent much of his set exploring it. He sang from the back rows, the middle rows and the side aisles. During one number, he coaxed a guy into skipping along with him across the venue and back. It was all very genuine and engaging.
Their set list included I Dont Wanna Go, Life Is Better With You, All Night Long Aint Long Enough and Say Hey, which included a chorus of about 80 children pulled from the crowd.
Franti is no easy act to follow, but this was Trains crowd, and it kept the mood kindled for most of its 90-minute set.
The band opened with Calling All Angels, an easy-listening ballad that bridges the gap between Toad the Wet Sprocket and Coldplay. Train has plenty of those darts in its quiver, and it fired off most of them: Meet Virginia, Drops of Jupiter, Hey, Soul Sister and Bruises, from the bands latest album, California 37.
On that one, lead singer Pat Monahan was joined by country singer Ashley Monroe, his duet partner on the recorded version. She then performed the honky-tonker Weed Instead of Roses, a track off her excellent Like a Rose album.
Train can mix it up, too, and deliver some uptempo numbers with rock and horn-fed funk in their bones, like Drive By, which is catchy in a Sugar Ray way, 50 Ways to Say Goodbye and the joyous tribute to the bands hometown, Save Me, San Francisco.
The group appended Free with bits of two Beatles songs, We Can Work It Out and All You Need Is Love, both of which started some hearty singing-along.
Monahan worked the big crowd, too. He spent most of Marry Me trotting around the theater, dispensing quick hugs and high-fives. During Mermaid, the stage was again filled with young girls, but this time they were dressed in mermaid-ish costumes. Monahan gave the tiniest one a spot upfront and center and a few moments to commandeer the microphone.
They closed with The Weight, the Band song that is on the verge of becoming the most-covered song in rock history. Monroe and Franti emerged from backstage and joined in, sharing lead vocals with Monahan. As it had throughout the show, most of the big crowd joined in, too. It was that kind of night, start to finish.