After twenty plus years in the game, Train are still at their absolute best.

I remember back in 2001 when American pop rockers Train had their breakout hit ‘Drops of Jupiter’. That song was everywhere. My sister was six years old at the time and even at the single.

Ever since, they’ve been one of those bands where I’ve enjoyed the singles they’ve released but not really listened to any of their albums (it’s hard to believe their latest, A Girl, A Bottle, A Boat is their tenth).

Support tonight comes in the form of blues/country rocker JamieJRReyne (the son of classic Aussie singer, James Reyne. He also played “Taj Coppin” on Neighbours between 2002-2004).

Playing through a half an hour set of originals and covers, JR shows he’s definitely following in his father’s footsteps well with a powerful, if raw, singing voice. Standing on stage on his own, with just an acoustic guitar, it’s hard to turn away as Reyne pulls you in with his singing talents and brilliant guitar work.

He includes a fantastic cover of the Bruce Springsteen classic ‘I’m On Fire’ and ends with a track from his latest album, Volumes, entitled ‘My Oh My’.

It’s hard to believe that Train have been a band almost twenty five years now. Frontman Patrick Monahan may be the only original member left but that definitely doesn’t put fans off as there is barely an empty seat at the Palais Theatre.

From the moment Train (who enter the stage to, funnily enough, the noise of trains) launch into ‘Drink Up’, the opening track from their latest album everyone here knows they’re going to be in for a great night. Train’s five members plus two backing vocalists (Nikita Houston and Sakai Smith) make seven but they fill the stage nicely as guitarist Luis Maldonado launches into a great guitar solo (one of many for the night) before they play the very (un)romantic ‘50 Ways To Say Goodbye’.

It isn’t long later when Monahan jokes that he’s thankful that everyone is still sitting as there’s less pressure and the he can perform at forty percent. Everyone gets the hint and we all stand for ‘Save Me San Francisco’ (and the rest of the show) with a lot of the crowd singing along to every word.

I’d forgotten that Train had the 2003 song, ‘Calling All Angels’. It’s a track I haven’t heard in some time it was a great surprise for them to include in their set list. Following that, a young fan gets the surprise of his life when he is dragged (willingly) on stage by Monahan to perform ‘Bruises’ with them. He sings confidently with Monahan, not shying away at all from the large stage. He even gets a free t-shirt for his efforts.

The name of this tour is the Play That Song tour so we know at some point we’re going to be hear the track of the same name so when the band begin to play it, it turns out just to be a tease of what’s to come.

Easily one of the highlights of the night is when Monahan says they don’t get to play theatre shows very often in the states and, showing off the brilliant acoustics of the room, the band perform ‘Always Midnight’ (one of Monahan’s favourite songs “from a sadder time in 2007” he says) without mics and with backing vocals from Houston, Smith, Maldonado and bassist Hector Maldonado with just Jerry Becker on keyboards. It’s easily one of the most enthralling things I’ve seen at a concert and really shows off exactly how well built these theatres are.

Train bring the ukulele to rock with ‘Hey Soul Sister’ and the crowd get a good laugh when a group of girls yell back “We will” every time Monahan sings ‘Marry Me’, during the song of the same name.

According to the Palais Theatre’s website, Train were due to finish after 75 minutes so, when they end their set with the long awaited ‘Play That Song’, you could forgive people if they started to leave. But no one did as the band quickly reappeared for a fantastic three song encore of ‘Parachute’, “a song they just wrote” which turned out to be a cover of Queen and David Bowie‘s classic ‘Under Pressure’ and their all time classic ‘Drops of Jupiter.’

Train show that, after over twenty years in the game, they are still well and truly at their absolute best. A fantastic performance tonight proved that conclusively leaving many, including myself, hoping they return to the country again soon so we can do it all again.

Photos By Bethany Mafrici