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High Five for Maroon 5

Fans Dance, Sing, and Flirt with Rocker Cuties

By Allison Lewis

Maroon 5, with Michael Tolcher

Paradise Rock Club

Oct. 30, 9 p.m.

Maroon 5 knows how to work a crowd. Singing to the hordes of teenage girls gathered around the stage (and the more reserved guys, pumping their arms in the back), the oh-so-cute and amazing lead singer, Adam Levine, made faces, danced, and squatted to get on level with the crowd, commanding us to clap. “Just because you’re on the balcony doesn’t mean you can’t clap your hands!” he said, in rhythm to the music. The girls cheered and held out their hands to touch him. He smiled, jiggled his hips, jumped up and down, and sang.

The Paradise was packed. The room smelled like beer and body-odor. The entire crowd danced and sang with the music. On top of the band’s well-written, well-rehearsed sound was a muddle of voices trying to follow along with the words.

In the crowd were a bunch of kids with X’s on their hands, marked with a big, black Sharpie. I felt proud to be a member of the orange wrist-band group, hideous as it was. The group of girls in front of me were dressed in 80s attire: tennis sweat bands, mesh trucker hats, outfits probably inspired by Urban Outfitters. They were cute and fun to watch. They danced together, almost on top of each other, very in-the-moment, and trendy, a perfect representative of the rest of the crowd, and a large percentage of Maroon 5’s fan base.

Levine ate it all up; he loved the crowd. “We’re all friends now, right?” he said between songs. He told us about his ex-girlfriend, who their album, Songs about Jane, is written about. “Don’t ever drunk-dial your ex,” he warned. I think he used the F-word at least 100 times.

Behind him was Ryan Dusick on drums, Mickey Madden on bass, James Valentine on guitar, and Jesse Carmichael on keyboard. Dusick was tight, playing steady drum grooves that the band successfully built upon. Carmichael punched his keyboard 70s style, giving the mostly blues-rock sound a unique twist.

Madden and Valentine wore subtle mullets (long, straight hair, sharply layered around the face) and looked very 70s rocker (or MIT nerd). Madden also wore a sleeveless basketball jersey, and shouldn’t have; every member of the band was too skinny.

But the music was good, bluesy, fun rock, sharply punctuated by the keyboard and drums, and given a heavy, colorful, and slightly dark edge by the bass-player.

The guitarist played the melody well. Levine, also on guitar, flirted with the other players on stage. At one point, he and the other electric guitar battled it out. Levine took a solo, then Valentine did, and then they played together, two very friendly counter-melodies that danced quickly, in and out of each other.

The band played well and comfortably together; they fed off the crowd and enjoyed the energy and enthusiasm in the room. If it wasn’t for the crowd’s vibrant, excited reaction to the music, the show might have been dull, standard rock. But, with the crowd’s encouragement, Levine’s beautiful, strong, and melodic voice held each note to the fullest, and, even when he was just talking, filled the room. He emphasized some of the words, rising or falling to each note with a bit of soul, but always hitting the right pitch, even when jumping up and down.

The lyrics of the songs were wonderful and unique, yet universal. The melodies were simple, yet colorful, fun and catchy, but not too cliche, and never annoying. This music is rock at it best, rock through the ages -- a great beat and a great melody -- a combination of early, swinging, tuneful rockabilly, whining blues, with punctuated 70s rhythms, and a bit of a hard edge.

Doors opened at 9 p.m., and Michael Tolcher and band got the crowd worked up. They were perfect for an opening band; familiar with the nightclub/bar scene, they used their knowledge to their advantage. Tolcher sang and spoke dramatically, waving his arms in the air and bending around the stage, like an actor in a play or musical.

Maroon 5 came on stage around 10 p.m. and played for over an hour before saying goodbye, and then coming back onstage for one amazing encore, playing one of the songs off the album. Then switching to a well-known R&B song, Levine sang with a voice like Justin Timberlake. The fans loved it and had difficulty keeping still and quiet.

Maroon 5 played well on stage and worked the crowd. They were a bit of quirky, a bit of fun, and a lot of personality. Their album is wonderful and well-recorded, but when brought to the stage, their music is rock done right -- a fun and thrilling combination of rhythm and melody, rock and soul, and, most importantly, a sound that moves a crowd.