January 12, 2014 9:17 pm

Maroon 5/Robin Thicke, O2 Arena, London – review

The Californian rockers’ punchily paced set underlined how entertaining their best songs are
Adam Levine of Maroon 5©Katja Ogrin/EMPICS

Adam Levine of Maroon 5

One of the world’s most devastatingly attractive men was at London’s O2 Arena last week. But hey, enough about me. What about the gig?

Well, the studs were out in force there too. First was Robin Thicke, the man whose music puts the “sex” into “pest”. Then came Maroon 5, the US pop-funk band led by Adam Levine, whom no less an authority than People magazine has crowned “the sexiest man alive”.

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The evening started shakily with support act Thicke, he of “Blurred Lines”, the infamous anthem of sexual suasion whose creepy refrain, “I know you want it,” has karmically come back to haunt its creator. The R&B crooner, veteran of six albums, now finds himself knowing exactly what people want: “Blurred Lines” and nothing else.

Sharply suited but wooden in manner, looking unconfident behind the hand-in-pocket poses, he trudged along until finally reaching That Song, introduced with the pathos-ridden cry, “Let’s get this party started now.” Afterwards a rap track blasted over the sound system as the singer took his bow, a clear signal to vacate the stage pronto. All the scene lacked was a shepherd’s crook emerging from the wings.

Maroon 5 also carry the albatross of a massive signature hit, 2011’s “Moves Like Jagger”, but the Californians bear it better. Their arrival saw the evening go up several gears.

Levine was sporting a moustache and a shirt that wanted to be a cardigan, as though pitching for “sexiest golfer alive”, but there was no doubting his charm or, once the shirt-igan was removed to reveal a vest, his pectorals. Meanwhile his singing was as smoothly accomplished as you’d hope (but not necessarily expect) from a judge on the US edition of talent show The Voice .

He was anxious not to be seen to hog the limelight, introducing his colleagues early on, each doing that tedious soloing thing that backing musicians do when unleashed; meanwhile Levine picked up a black bra that had been thrown at him. The dynamics were reminiscent of INXS – Levine as the dashing Michael Hutchence, the rest a crew of anonymous funk-rockers – yet the five-piece played as a unit, zipping through the songs crisply.

The set had its share of filler but the punchy pace underlined how entertaining their best songs are, such as “Lucky Strike” in which Levine sang, “She keep me up all night, this is what it sounds like: whooooa, oh oh oh” – lithe and humorous where Thicke was just sleazy. “Moves Like Jagger”, played before the encore, sounded like the distillation of their strengths, not the sole highlight of a foundering career.


maroon5.com

robinthicke.com

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