Maroon 5: A night of falsettos
â€śBlow me,â€ť Adam Levine, the front man to Maroon 5, said to the crowd that packed DTE Energy Music Theatre Aug 5.Â Sure he was impersonating a fan in the crowd that wasnâ€™t singing, but that truly was the highlight of a promising show with a bland ending.
Earlier in the summer, Maroon 5 released the single â€śMiseryâ€ť from their upcoming album â€śHands All Overâ€ť to be released in late September and also announced a short, pre-release tour with a stop in Clarkstonâ€™s legendary venue.
The pavilion lights turned off just after 9 p.m., but unfortunately it wasnâ€™t dark enough to shadow the stagehands botch the unveiling of the bands set up.Â After the tangled black sheets were pulled from the drum set, keyboard and piano, Maroon 5 finally made their anticlimactic entrance.
If it werenâ€™t for that, the first half of the show was as solid as any show can be.Â The transitions between songs were smooth with very little down time as the drummer, Matt Flynn, would keep a simple beat between songs.Â Levine sparingly communicated with the crowd, and when he did, it was surprisingly funny.Â And each song had its own unique character and intro.
Maroon 5 started with â€śMisery,â€ť a continuation of their funk, disco-rock style that has made them famous.Â The song was followed by their second-album hit â€śMakes Me Wonder,â€ť and their new guitar-string-chopping song â€śGive a Little More,â€ť that featured a disco ball that hung above Flynnâ€™s head â€“ the disco ball was also the showâ€™s best effect of the night.
In the first half, Levine hit his low notes and falsettos.Â He commanded the stage with his Mick Jagger/Freddy Mercury style presence and provided a few decent guitar licks in the middle or end of various songs.Â Their newest member, who Levine referred to as PJ, played keyboard and provided some much needed back-up vocals, as Maroon 5 shows in the past have left Levineâ€™s voice sounding empty.
After their funk ballad, â€śThe Sunâ€ť, Maroon 5 slowed the show with a well-done cover of Alicia Keysâ€™ song â€śIf I Aint Got You,â€ť in which Flynn added a snare/bass combo to jazz up the song.Â As Levine sat on a stool for the next song â€śSecret,â€ť he told the men in the crowd that now was time to make a move on the girl they brought.
It was during this song that Maroon 5 hit the apex of their performance.Â As Levine seduced the crowd with the songâ€™s sensual lyrics, pianist Jesse Carmichael intermittently pounded the keys while guitarist James Valentine softly finger picked his acoustic guitar.
After â€śSecret,â€ť the band played an unplugged version of their ballad â€śShe will be loved,â€ť that sounded like a cover band version of their own song until Levine had the entire crowd sing back-up vocals near the end.
From there on, the show left much to be desired.
Maroon 5 didnâ€™t necessarily lose their energy, but the showâ€™s surprises were all used up in the first half.Â Levine continued to insert his guitar licks, but by the second half, it was like listening to a 50-year-old guitar player playing speed rock at Guitar Center and nothing else.Â It was more annoying than entertaining at that point.
And, as a microcosm of all Maroon 5 hits, their similar-sounding, funk songs left some of the audience members wondering if they were repeating songs from the first half.
Apparently Maroon 5 also has been hit hard by the recession, because their stage was cheap for a globally-recognized band.Â Actually, it was cheap for a high-school garage band.Â It included a backdrop of palm trees, a couple set of lights and a disco ball featured for only a couple of songs.
They faked the end of their show with their first megahit â€śThis Loveâ€ť before going into an encore.Â But many of the fans seemed more interested in beating parking-lot traffic than staying to scratch their heads and wonder if they were experience a long, drawn-out dĂ©jĂ vu.
It is clear from their Aug 5 show and from their previous hits that Maroon 5 has figured out a formula to pump out hits and have stuck to that formula since â€śSongs About Jane.â€ťÂ If their upcoming album is anything like the handful of new songs they played, buyers need not invest if they already have the first couple of albums â€“ or even just the first.
Maroon 5 has not changed or evolved since 2002.Â But why would they when their albums continue to sell?