- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 4, 2004

Last Monday at the Birchmere, Train played for nearly 2 hours with no opening act. If this show was typical, the band’s current club tour should come with a warning label: “For devoted fans only.”

Although Train got its start in the early ‘90s playing the San Francisco coffeehouse circuit, the group’s recent multi-platinum success has made it hard to see them in anything less than 1,000-seat venues. Hoping to reconnect with fans and play songs that wouldn’t make the cut if they were sharing a bill, the band has embarked on a solo club tour in its most popular markets.

In last Monday’s show, the first of a three-night stand, Train scattered hits and covers — new songs and previously unreleased ones over two 12-song sets. New material, such as “Natural” and “Ordinary” written for the “Spider-Man 2” soundtrack, hinted at new directions, with their distorted guitars and deeper lyrical sense.

Predictably, the band played radio-friendly hits like “Drops of Jupiter,” “Calling All Angels” and “She’s On Fire,” but the best performances were the covers of everyone from Prince to Led Zeppelin. From a cappella breakdowns to bridges that would usually be filled with guitar solos, lead singer Pat Monahan’s vocals were the main attraction.

While bands like Pearl Jam and Phish have been selling live recordings for years, Train has upped the ante on this tour, giving everyone in attendance at the Birchmere a free live CD of the band’s first set on the way out the door.

Yes, being a devoted Train fan has its rewards.

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