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Train

Tuesday, July 8; Pageant

Train got its start playing in San Francisco coffeehouses as a duo; since then, bigger has almost always equalled better for the band. Train's breakthrough hit, "Meet Virginia," was a small, tuneful and touching portrait of the titular lady, whose various qualities were sedately ticked off. It was mostly indistinguishable from the stereotypical urban-espresso-bar fare, but it had a touch of human insight set off by Patrick Monahan's open-throated wail, which already hinted at anthems in the offing.

It was on 2000's Drops of Jupiter, though, that Train truly began to come into its own. The album's eponymous single was a sensitive-guy ballad blown up to macho-sized proportions, with a "Karma Police" piano intro and frothy strings swirling up a cloud of heartbreak. With this and other giant ballads, the members of Train established themselves as the reigning showmen of adult alternative radio; on this year's My Private Nation, they prove just how well-suited they are to these megasized anthems. The songs are even bigger, sometimes so big that Monahan forgoes his modest, sensitive-guy act and brags that he can dance like Patrick Swayze. The one that fills the stage most is "Calling All Angels," in which, like a true rock frontman, Monahan chants over and over "I won't give up if you don't give up" in a compassionate display of strength. If cock rock voted for Nader, it would sound like this.

 
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