As a long-time Maroon 5 fan, I have seen them perform live upwards of seven times, however, their show at the Wells Fargo Center last night was the first time I’d seen them since 2010 (save for one very small, very private show last summer), just before Adam Levine signed on with The Voice and Maroon 5 exploded into celebrity.
The last time I had been to one of their shows, I was surprised when people could recognize Adam Levine by name. With the success of The Voice, and Maroon 5’s singles consequentially flying off the charts these days, I expected a Bieber level of fan frenzy when I arrived at the Wells Fargo Center. I realized it wasn’t too far off the mark when I spotted a group of girls no more than 17 years old decked out from head to toe in home-made Maroon 5 swag, complete with “Levine” plastered on the backs of their shirts and sparkly pink signs for holding up. Probably just slightly outnumbering the adorable young fan girls though, were groups of women I would have expected to be their mothers, if they weren’t arriving in separate flocks of their own. So we have teenyboppers, un-retired teenyboppers, and some in-betweens who dragged their boyfriends along. The atmosphere of the crowd, combined with the set list of newer songs that aren’t necessarily my favorites had me admittedly setting the bar of the evening pretty low.
Rozzi Crane, the first artist signed to Levine’s label, 222 Records, played first. She was very energetic and fun and people bobbed their heads along to her short set list despite clearly not having much of an idea of who she was. Magic! was up next, which to me was a surprising choice for an opener. The “Rude” singers have a very reggae, indie sound compared to Maroon 5. I much sooner would have anticipated finding them taking bong hits with The Dirty Heads at some kind of summer music festival before seeing them open for a band like Maroon 5. Still, that’s not to say they weren’t a pleasant surprise. Included in their set list were a few lesser known singles like “Let Your Hair Down” and “No Way No,” as well as a couple of fun covers ( “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper and “Message in a Bottle” by The Police). By the time they finished with their mega-popular song “Rude,” I thought I was going to walk out of the building that night enjoying Magic’s set the most.
Maroon 5’s stage set up was much fancier than I had ever seen it before, with a catwalk that stretched almost the length of the whole floor. Fog filled the room as the lights darkened for their entrance, and I truly thought they were going to descend from the ceiling on hydraulic lifts, but they simply walked up the side and back stairs of the stage and waved as they made their way to their instruments. It was very relieving.
They kicked things off with their slightly creepy single “Animals,” followed by “One More Night.” Next up, they covered Gym Class Heroes’ song “Stereo Hearts,” to which Adam endearingly attempted to rap Travie McCoy’s verses, as well as sing his own original parts. They played the mandatory Songs About Jane hits like “Harder to Breathe,” “Sunday Morning,” (where Levine took a brief interlude to introduce the band and be asked to prom via a flower bouquet from the pit), and “This Love,” which was the winner of the evening for me. Adam introduced the song and had the crowd sing the entire first verse alone. It was goose-bump inducing and well performed and the best sing along of the night.
Other fan favorites on the set list were “Wake Up Call,” “Lucky Strike,” “Love Somebody,” “Maps,” “Makes Me Wonder,” “Payphone,” and finally “Daylight.” They had a 4 song encore that began with the underwhelming “It Was Always You” from their new album V. During a long intro for “She Will Be Loved,” the band left the stage and Levine and Valentine went out to the end of the catwalk, had the lights dimmed, and had the crowd take their phones out and shine their flashlights. After a couple of minutes of “Ooo, shiny,” Adam then had everyone put them away, giving a speech about technology and how people pre-90’s were less obsessed with capturing every possible second of a concert on cell phones. He playfully bickered with a few audience members who continued to have them out and cracked a joke about them possibly having an addiction, then went on to play the song. The band came back out for the last chorus and Adam permitted the use of phones again while they wrapped up with “Moves Like Jagger” and their new single “Sugar.”
Going into the show a jaded old Maroon 5 fan with slightly low expectations, I was surprised at how actually good it was. The band was terrific despite being quite literally in the shadows for most of the night, Adam was as goofy and energetic as the first time I saw him nearly ten years ago, and I didn’t stop dancing at any point all night.