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Maroon 5 At Madison Square Garden, Saturday, February 16th, 2013, Reviewed

It has been over five years since Maroon 5 ended a world wide tour at Madison Square Garden, with friends and family in the audience, and a last exhilarated rush of energy before the nearly two years of nonstop touring in aide of It Won't Be Soon Before Long ended and the band emerged as a big time pop rock conglom and Adam Levine a superstar lead singer. 

In 2008, Levine spoke of playing one memorable gig at at a Vegas bar to an empty room and the bartender who left for a cigarette and so there was nobody there at all and looking out at the sold out Arena, he pondered  just how far the band had come. It was kinda moving. Much less moving was when he gave the exact same speech towards the end of Saturday night's headlining set at the very same venue.

I mean really, these were expensive tix, can't he update his spiel? Well, Adam and the boys are professionals and if it works, why not recycle? And from the sparking stage design and huge LCD screens, to the bridge from the main stage to a smaller one, to a set packed to the seams with hit songs of unvarying quality, these boys were an ultimate bunch of pros and pros use what they need.

Incidentally, what is it with the late starts? When did 10pm become the new 9pm? Is it worth mentioning that if you must bring a couple of bands along, start the evening at 730pm? Maroon 5 reached the stage at 952pm to the sound of a telephone operator and before "Payphone" was over Adam had traveled every inch of the M shaped stag,  taking the opportunity of a pre-recorded Wiz Khalifa rap to meet the audience. It was a rousing start and the band played loud and hard, much closer to rock than power pop or dance. 

The set was a full energy push from Adam, he really never stopped moving and if his slapping on an electric guitar was mostly for show and if he didn't actually "Move Like Jagger", he did move well. Better than a rock star. And when he felt like it he could actually play his guitar. The rest of the band were somewhat anonymous but they were somewhat last time as well. Except for the bloke with the long hair, could you point any one out in a line-up? They take their roles seriously, and they do play live: Maroon 5 aren't all samples and synths even if they have no problems with modern science.

This is all lucid momentum and the band seldom slow the pace or lower the volume and by the three quarters mark they reel off "Harder To Breathe" , "Wake Up Call" and "One More Night" in succession. One from each of their last three albums and genius setlist programming. It builds through larger and larger hits to largest, and their biggest hit "One More Night" -as much of a Police ripoff as Bruno Mar's "Locked Out Heaven" and owing huge amounts to Shellback.  Shellback also co-wrote and produced "Payphone" and "Moves Like Jagger" (not to mention "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" for Swift). Maroon 5 performed an extended instrumental introduction before getting the mostly female but not teen audience to join in a singalong.And they top that with a band introduction "Hands All Over" and still had "Stereo Hearts" and "Move Like Jagger" for the encore where abridge from the main to a smaller stage appeared. The set was a wonder, just a beautiful light show and all sharpness and bright. 

This is all well and good, a guitar solo on "Misery" by James Valentine shows what they could do if they want to, so, yeah,  these are smart guys. They want to be in the Promised Land, they want to be pros, they wanna give their fans what they want and they have produced three albums (the first one is a dog) of steadily increasing power. Maroon 5's problem is that the set was too rote and all the emotions felt prefabricated. It was quite good. Is that enough?

Grade: B

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