Train

Train performing at the Preakness Infield in May (Llloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

The smell of beer and fried food saturated the lawn and pavilion at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Packed for the co-headlining tour of Maroon 5 and Train, the concert brought generations together. Teens perspiring from Adam Levine-induced delirium mingled raucously with fans of adult alternative band Train and Gavin DeGraw.

Train, who just performed at the Preakness Stakes in May, signaled its entrance to the stage with the ear-piercing whistle of a railroad train. The chugging of gears was greeted with excited screams from the band’s older fans and ended, much to their delight, with the appearance of frontman Patrick Monahan.

Clad in an ever-rotating series of black, white and red t-shirts and button downs, Monahan cut sharp figure in the spotlight. He wasn’t afraid to utilize the stage, and much like he did at Preakness, often paused in his woozy meanderings to take a photo with a fan or to touch their hands.

Despite being a five-piece band with an occasional cellist, it was very much Monahan’s show. The band seemed distant from the singer, as if Monahan was a soloist touring with a temporary band rather than a group of at least three official members. Solos of the guitar or percussion persuasion were few and far between.

The group launched immediately into their first song, “Parachute,” from 2009’s “Save Me, San Franscisco.”  The song made for a solid introduction, featuring an expansive guitar part that seemed to fill the pavilion. Train chose its songs wisely, padding the set list with plenty of hit radio singles and crowd favorites. “If’ It’s Love,” “Meet Virginia,” and “Calling All Angels,” all made appearances and were met with a roar of approval.

The band had fun with its set; rather than going from song to song with little break in between, Train punctuated their hits with breaks. During “She’s On Fire,” Monahan brought out a cowboy hat and led the band into a knee-rocking hoe-down. The cellist too, a woman in a flowing white dress, got in on the action and coaxed Monahan into an “impromptu” salsa.

Likewise, during “Calling All Angels,” the band took a break to call its female fans to the stage. Monahan urged then to show off their dance moves, though he did encourage the younger fans to keep it “fresh and funky” rather than sexy.

The most touching part of the night came during “Marry Me.”  Monahan left the stage to travel through the crowded pavilion, taking the grasping hands of his fans with good grace.

The night start with Gavin DeGraw, who spoke briefly of his mugging in New York City earlier this month. Mostly, he seemed glad to be on tour and making music once again. “In Love with a Girl,” and “Follow Through” provided the singer with ample opportunity to show off his voice.

His slower ballads better captured the flexibility and lyricism of his musical talent, both vocally as well as on the piano. Nevertheless, the crowd waited with bated breath for “I Don’t Want To Be,” the song made famous by the show “One Tree Hill,” and DeGraw graciously capitulated

Maroon 5 took to a transformed stage promptly after DeGraw. Amped up by the intoxicating presence of the tattooed Adam Levine, the audience was more than ready for the tongue-in-cheek “Moves Like Jagger.” The lilting whistle of the hook was better suited for the radio than an outdoor amphitheater, though the dancey beat still managed to make the crowd’s feet move.

Though the band’s penchant for musical experimentation is apparent in gestures towards funk, groove, and blues, the use of Kanye West’s “Power” as a backing track for “Harder to Breathe” surprised the crowd. The two songs meshed shockingly well, and provided a nice alternative to an attempt at a cover.

The band cycled through all of its records, with a surprising but welcome number of songs from their first album “Songs About Jane.”  Though Maroon 5 has had many radio hits since their first release, most recently the release of their album “Hands All Over,” tracks off of “Songs About Jane” translated particularly well live. “The Sun,” “Sunday Morning” and “She Will Be Loved” were lush with sensuality, apparent in the guitar parts as well as Levine’s voice.

Though raw sexuality is the band’s m.o., it was the tender moments, like “Never Gonna Leave this Bed” and “Wake Up Call,” that gave the set more depth.

Hsia-Ting Chang last reviewed Taylor Swift for Midnight Sun.


Setlist for Maroon 5:

Moves Like Jagger
Harder to Breathe