Train At Islington Assembly Hall – 31st January 2017

I wonder if back in 1993 when the band Train formed, they envisaged that over 20 years later they would be releasing their tenth studio album having sold over 10 million albums and 30 million tracks worldwide.

Train released “A Girl, A Bottle, A Boat” in January of this year and to coincide with that release arranged an intimate gig at the wonderful Islington Assembly Hall, an iconic listed building on Upper Street in North London. Chatting to Jason Moore, Train’s front of house sound engineer after the show, I asked him about how Train  ended up playing such an intimate gig as the last time I saw them they were selling out the O2. He told me that as they were here launching the album they wanted to give their UK fans a treat before they returned in October for a series of gigs at bigger venues. Jason is a top engineer and has previously worked with names as diverse as Meatloaf and Selena Gomez and he was responsible for an excellent sound throughout the evening.

In an emotionally charged atmosphere, Train showed exactly why they have such a loyal fan base opening with “Drink Up”, the opening track of their new CD, which kicked the evening off in style with fans singing back lyrics of the barely released album. From there, and with barely a breath, the energetic Pat Monahan went straight into fan favourite “Drive By” from 2012’s California 37. This was a taste of how the evening would develop with the band playing a great mix of old and new to the delight of an adoring crowd. Five new songs were played and the reaction to latest single “Play That Song” suggests it has already become a fan favourite. An acoustic microphone less version of new track “You Better Believe” didn’t so much make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as do little somersaults.

“Play That Song” samples the catchy melody of 1938 song “Heart and Soul” which some older fans may recognise from Tom Hanks movie “Big”. Train’s ability to write incredibly catchy pop rock songs have made them ever presents in the Billboard charts of America over the years and it looks like they haven’t lost the knack. That coupled with their strength performing live should mean that Pat Monahan’s wish as he closed the gig of still writing and performing and making fans happy in another twenty years might just be achievable. 

In an event that seemed entirely normal in such an emotional atmosphere, during the song “Marry Me” a couple in the crowd became engaged and much to their delight were invited for a first dance on stage as the band serenaded them. This will not be an evening they forget in a hurry. 

With a set that included not only new songs but classics like “Angel in Blue Jeans”, “Save Me, San Francisco” , “Hey Soul Sister” and of course the iconic ” Drops of a Jupiter” it was almost impossible that this gig would not have been amazing . Throw in a heartfelt and beautiful cover of the Queen/ Bowie “Under Pressure” and a band performance of such high quality and the recipe was perfect. Pat Monahan’s usual electric stage presence and energy as he sang, danced and even took selfies before tossing phones back to their owners was simply the icing on a perfect cake.

Train will return in the Autumn to perform a series of bigger venues and if this gig is anything to go by tickets are a must. Their new album is available now and on the back of that and an assured live performance of new tracks is sure to be a success. 

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