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Train Kept A'Rollin' All Night Long
By C. Pacek


Clemson, South Carolina, the heart of cultural refinement, right?  Ok, maybe not, but on Thursday, August 30, Little John Coliseum was transformed into the veritable "centre" of Pickens County when Train rolled into town for a three hour show.  Currently on tour with Matchbox Twenty, the band derailed for a few days to headline their own show in Clemson.
The atmosphere in the venue was mellow, almost reminiscent of a cozy blues club, with a Train banner draped behind an essentially bare stage where the musical instruments, rather than the band members, were the focus of the performance.  No gimmicks, no props, no flamboyant clothing, just poignant lyrics backed by substantial music.  Unfortunately, the barely existent lighting consisted of a spotlight which changed color and perpetually blinded us during the performance since it seemed to be focused directly on our side of the arena.
Despite the need for sunglasses, I was extremely impressed by how versatile the band members were, enabling them to change their sound from song to song.  Lead singer Pat Monohan not only caressed us with his velvety voice, but also held his own on trumpet, sax, vibes, and percussion, while guitarist Jimmy Stafford serenaded us on the mandolin and guitarist Rob Hotchkiss stepped things up with the harmonica.
Through most of the show, the fans were disappointingly bland: the only way I knew there were actually alive was from the modest applause following each song.  That is, until the band belted out their two signature songs, "Meet Virginia" and "Drops of Jupiter," when suddenly everyone in the crowd was a bona fide Train fan who knew all the lyrics.  Personally, I was much prouder of the fact that I actually knew the lyrics and music to some of the finer songs on their new album, such as "Hopeless," "Let It Roll," and "Mississippi."
Although Train's talent and originality was impressive, the highlight of the show was definitely a Plantesque cover of Led Zep's "Ramble On" and an extremely danceable cover of Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me."  Any band that can pay worthy homage to the gods of rock AND hold their own with great original music is alright by me.
All in all, I felt like I got my $28.00 worth.  I got a "night on the town" with some friends and got to enjoy some great music in the bargain.  My only complaints: that blasted spotlight (!) and the fact that I must live in the dinosaur age of rock concerts.  Come on, guys!  What happened to the days where you paid $22.50 for any show and rocked 'til midnight?!