I was in Boston the week of June 12th for Microsoft’s big conference known as TechEd. I was hoping to hit some record stores this trip because I was staying in the same area as LinuxWorld, which put me in walking distance of about five of them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get that in as I had a pretty packed week at the conference, and things to do with the group I travelled with at night. Just when I thought I would be having a week with no music-related activities, Microsoft comes through with a concert at the amazing Fenway Park– home of the Red Sox.
TechEd usually has one night that is a sponsored event– last year in Orlando they booked Paramount Studios park for one night. They announced that Train was playing for us at the beginning of June in an e-mail confirming the event. I was only vaguely aware of Train. They played in Cedar Rapids a number of years ago for Freedom Festival. The only song I could name was “Meet Virginia.” I had considered skipping this event in favor of hitting a record store, but I decided that I shouldn’t miss out on free food, beer and music. On Tuesday, they handed out flyers explaining what to do, and how to get to the event. In the flyer, they said “bands”– so that meant that there was an opening act. We didn’t even know until we got to the venue that the opening act was Buffalo Tom! I was happy to hear that. I always liked “Taillights Fade.”
We walked to Fenway from my hotel– it was only a couple of blocks. When we got there, there was lines for everything and we wanted food, so we stood in line for Pizza and Beer. By the time we got that, Buffalo Tom had started. The stage was set up in front of the Sox dugout. Buffalo Tom was burning through their set. I had forgotten what they sounded like. They still have that early-Nineties college rock guitar sound like other acts of their vintage like Soul Asylum and the Replacements. They were showing the concert up on the jumbotron for those souls who didn’t want to sit in front of the speakers. I finished my Pizza and beer and left my party to make my way over to the seats in front. They were going to go visit the Green Monster. The seat I took was 4th row stage right.
Buffalo Tom did a good job with their set. They had an “extra” guitarist who helped fill in the trio’s sound. I didn’t know that they were from Boston. I guess they were considered the “local boys who done good.” Hard working and pretty down-to-earth would be the way I would describe them. The bass player commented that for the first time in ten years his wife came to a show– and it was because they were opening for Train. I don’t know how many people knew who Buffalo Tom was. They understood that most were there for Train. Evidently they are working on a new album. I will have to check on that as well as dig out my copy of “A-Sides” a greatest hits compilation.
Train came on next. I really had not listened to Train other than anything I might have heard on the radio, movies or TV. As it turns out I was familiar with a number of their songs. They performed “Meet Virginia” third. I wasn’t expecting them to bring out the hits so early in the show. I guess they have four albums out, so they have quite a few songs to draw from, plus they did four cover songs. I’d say they have a very confident presence on the stage, likely due to a lot of touring.
In the first set they did a song from the Drops of Jupiter album called “She’s on Fire.” Patrick Monahan–the lead singer– called for women to come up and join him on the stange to dance, which drew an excited crowd of women. The stage was set up against the Red Sox dugout, so the top of the dugout was an extension of the stage.
This went on until one of the very drunk women fell off the dugout– much to the surprise of the band who had to stop while the security and police had to shoo the dancers off the stage. The band took a break while the security guards ascertained the situation. The band came back on after a bit, and the Pat commented that they wouldn’t be having any more people dancing on the dugout. From that point on, there were four police officers standing on the dugout.
Train came back with a couple of Led Zeppelin covers– an acoustic version of “Going to California” followed by “Ramble On.” They did very good versions of them and probably made up for the embarrassing situation. The rest of the show was good. The audience seemed to be filled with their fans– or people who knew their songs. In a lot of ways, I think that Train is this decade’s REO Speedwagon. The live set reminded me of the three or four times I’d seen Mr. Kronin and Co.– right down to the storytelling of the lead singer over the band playing. On the classic REO Speedwagon album Decade of Rock and Roll, there is a live version of “157 Riverside Avenue” where Kevin tells a story about how he and Gary (the guitarist) were talking to each other over the phone– but Gary uses his guitar to talk. I had seen this performed live one of the first times I saw them– I guess Gary was still in the band at the time. Train did the same thing Pat told a story about how he was dissed by Britney Spears backstage at “Regis and Kathy Lee Live” over a salsa-samba type groove. We also were graced with a Moog keyboard solo and drum solo.
The show played through their hits and a number of other songs, including one they contributed to Spiderman 2 that Pat commented that he was pissed that they placed it at the end of the credits. The wrapped the evening up with a version of “Dream On” and said that they were playing it as a tribute to Boston boys Aerosmith. I guess that both “Ramble On” and “Dream On” are part of a promotional EP that was out about the same time as Drops of Jupiter.
I was pretty impressed overall with the show. I doubt that I’m going to become a die-hard Train fan, but I’d see them again if the tickets weren’t very expensive.