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Review: Train drops by Tampa for an acoustic set at Clear Channel




Further proof that Clear Channel is not always the bad guy when it comes to modern music: On Saturday afternoon, a few hours before performing a free postgame concert at Tropicana Field, the group Train dropped by the Clear Channel studios in Tampa for a quick acoustic set for maybe 50 fans at the Best Buy Musical Instruments Theatre.

We last checked out this one-of-a-kind studio in April, for a performance by Colbie Caillat. Since then, they've improved the aesthetics, adding autographed guitars to the wall and curtains behind the stage. The studio has hosted some other big names -- We The Kings, The Maine, Lifehouse, Travie McCoy -- but this set by the multiplatinum-selling Train was probably their biggest to date. Think about it -- the band was going from a venue that holds 50 people to a venue that holds 40,000.

The boys from San Fran proved to be old hands at this radio game, too. After an introduction from Mix-100.7 DJs Kurt Shriner and Nancy Alexander (who said, "I was talking to Pat Monahan backstage, and he did confirm that Hey Soul Sister was written about me"), they kicked into a version of If It's Love that sounded much larger than the three guys onstage.

The big-voiced Monahan, looking spry with a spiky, bird's-nest hairdo, sang while rattling a tambourine and shaker, fleshing the band's stripped-down sound into something approaching a full, real band. Guitarist Jimmy Stafford harmonized beautifully, and drummer Scott Underwood played the hell out of the crate he was sitting on.

Now, I don't know about you, but it took me approximately 68,000 listens before I could stand to listen to Drops of Jupiter in 2001. But on spin 68,001, I finally came around, and today I can appreciate it for being the rousing pop single that it is. Monahan turned the crowd into his own private chorus for the "na, na, na, na, na..." part at the end, giving the set even more of an intimate feel.

Then, of course, came the group's most recent smash single, the aforementioned Hey Soul Sister. It's a more vocally challenging song than you might realize, especially in a softer acoustic setting; Monahan had to drift into a lilting falsetto on each Hey, but it worked.

I can't imagine Train sounding any better Saturday night at the Trop than they did Saturday afternoon in Tampa. But what do you guys think? Give us your review of Train's Tropicana Field concert in the comments!

And in the meantime, check out this video of Train's acoustic set in Tampa.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Monday, August 16, 2010 10:50am]


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