Stage AE's summer slate has had a little something for everyone: Rob Zombie for the metalheads; Rise Against for the punks; Feist for the hipsters; Boston for the classic-rockers; and, on Wednesday night, Train for the office ladies who listen to lite FM.
Train, along with Maroon 5, is one of the few veteran bands to make any lasting impact on pop radio, thanks to its bouncy blue-eyed soul. When 2009's "Hey, Soul Sister" looked like it might be a one-off comeback, the band shot back up into the Top 10 with "Drive By," ensuring that venues like Stage AE would be packed for this tour, even on a Wednesday.
After warm-up sets by Mat Kearney and Andy Grammer, Train hit the stage with "50 Ways to Say Goodbye," which served as a kind of warm-up song as the bass was pumped too high and frontman Pat Monahan's voice hadn't shown up yet.
Those things would get straightened out, and Train would roll into a 90-minute set fueled by the Erie native's loose, friendly showmanship. There was so much audience participation, there was a feeling that if you hung around long enough, everyone would get on stage eventually.
A gaggle of young girls were brought up to dance and sing on "Mermaid." A young woman identified as "Julie," discovered through a YouTube clip, came up and blew people away with her sassy drawl on a duet of "Bruises." During the encore, a young man came up to have his guitar signed. And then there was all the hearty crowd singing throughout, making Mr. Monahan's job a lot easier.
Train took an equally playful approach to the songs, weaving "I Got You" with the Doobie Brothers' "Black Water," ultimately sung through a megaphone. There was a mid-set medley that found the connections between the Train oldies "Free," "She's on Fire" and "Respect" and covers of the classic "Respect" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Near the end of the set, the refrain of "tonight, tonight" on "Hey, Soul Sister" took the band into a cover of the fun. hit "Tonight" that drove the ladies wild.
"Marry Me," a big showpiece on recent trips here, was more low-key, and we were even spared the spectacle of an awkward on-stage proposal. Those who have been with the band for a decade or so were treated to soaring versions of alt-rock staples "Calling All Angels" and "Drops of Jupiter," Train's most enduring song.
For a band that debuted in the late '90s and seemed down and out by the mid-'00s, Train seems to be on a solid track.
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576; Twitter: @scottmervis_pg