Maroon 5 is a band, and don’t you forget it

I remember when Maroon 5 released Harder to Breathe in 2002, the first single off “Songs About Jane.” Burning CDs was a thing. Pop-punk rock or an amalgamation of sorts was huge. And Adam Levine was just another scrawny lead singer much like Tyson Ritter and Craig Nicholls, or so I thought. They had the makings of a successful rock band, sans the sugary melodies they are known for now. Harder to Breathe was rock song, the kind that dudes would dig, and it presented Maroon 5 as a group with a solid lineup of musicians.

It took the band two years to release their next single, This Love, still off the same album. It sounded more like the Maroon 5 we know now — the bridge gave us a glimpse of Levine’s range. Around this time, he was already being recognized as an individual, a rock star even. By the time the video for She Will Be Loved came out, a video that starred Kelly Preston and zeroed in on Levine, the world kind of got the message that Maroon 5 is not just another rock band. John Travolta would know how to pronounce their name.

In between dating models, getting inked done, and landing deals with major (fashion) labels, Levine and the rest of the band remained intact, releasing hit after hit, album after album, from “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long” to “Hands All Over,” “Overexposed,” and “V.” One would think that, given its vocalist’s celebrity cred and all the attention, the band would just be a shadow of him — the out of focus guys, the backing tracks to his crazy-high vocals, but that’s not the case.

Maroon 5’s performance tonight at the SM Mall of Asia Arena has reminded fans that Maroon 5 is a unit — a damn good, solid one that delivers catchy tunes and impossible-to-ignore melodies at breakneck pace. In the context of a concert, where all their songs from 2002 to 2015 are woven together in one exhilarating set, two things are obvious: the band’s musical progression and the seamless sonic unity of all their songs. Each one is obviously different (Moves Like Jagger is definitely not Animals, Sunday Morning is the farthest from Payphone, Lost Stars is something different entirely — songs they all played, by the way) but they could easily belong to any Maroon 5 album. The result is a solid show of non-stop hits, because come to think of it, all of their songs are. That I know the words to every song is a fact that has escaped me until tonight — until I caught myself singing along to Sugar and thinking, “How the….”

All sorts of fans gathered at the MOA Arena tonight: fans of Adam, fans of Maroon 5, pop fans, rock fans, Behati fans, music fans in general. On the way to the venue, we were wondering why the concert didn’t have a lot of publicity leading up to it. Turns out, publicity is unnecessary when you’re Maroon 5. The concert was sold-out. The arena was packed to the crevices. And Adam took on the role of frontman — resisting to take off his shirt, maybe — quite impressively.  (Photos by MONG PINTOLO)