Finally a Toledo Zoo concert where people actually get up and move.
After a run of summer shows that have been excellent despite a dearth of crowd energy (owing most likely to the relative advanced age of the concert-goers), Train and its rabid fans revved up the engine on a show that quickly kicked into high gear and didn't let up.
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The sign on the window of the box office said the concert was "completely sold out" -- as opposed to just sold out -- and the San Francisco band put a heavy emphasis on entertainment, crowd participation, and fun. It helps that virtually all of their songs hammer home hooks at a ridiculous pace, leaving lots of room for singing along.
With big radio-friendly anthems such as "Meet Virginia," "Drops of Jupiter," "Calling All Angels," and 2009's monster "Hey Soul Sister" the band fronted by Pat Monahan can plop a big audience participation exercise into the set about every fourth song.
But to their credit they came out and immediately played two songs from the new release "California 37" -- "50 Ways to Say Goodbye" and "This'll Be My Year" -- and both were greeted with the same enthusiasm as the more familiar material.
Monahan's a wispy fellow with awesome vocal range and a somewhat awkward frontman vibe. His stage patter was self-deprecatory, and while he clearly was heavily invested in the show, his movements were a bit stiff. Clearly he's not the kind of guy who's going to bust out a dance move, and he had fun noting that he's no Michael Jackson.
With dramatic lyrics like "When you kissed me I finally felt at home," "You are the best thing about me" and "I won't give up if you don't give up" there's a high element of emotional romanticism to the band's material, which obviously appealed to the crowd who demographically skewed female and seemed to range in age from tweens to AARPers.
Guitarist Jimmy Stafford, with his shaved head, white T-shirt, and tattoos looked like he belonged in a different band and his muscular guitar workouts on "Calling All Angels" and especially "Meet Virginia" were highlights of the show.
The band hit an early show peak on a medley of its own material that exploded with Monahan reaching some freaky high notes on his falsetto.
He wandered into the audience for "Mermaids" and found a passel of young women to come up on stage and sing with him. And he routinely autographed T-shirts and beach balls, took pictures of himself on people's cell phones, and generally hammed it up. The overall effect was cheesy, but no one was complaining.
They were too busy having a good time.
Contact Rod Lockwood at: email@example.com or 419-724-6159.