Maroon 5 get nostalgic in London

Adam Levine rocks the O2 Arena as Maroon 5 play the first of two huge nights in the UK

“This place is really big!” Adam Levine grins at the end of the O2 Arena’s extended walkway, using his hand to shield the stage lights from his eyes as he surveys those gathered in the venue’s upper balcony.

It’s a view you would assume the Maroon 5 frontman would be used to two decades into their stint as pop radio mainstays, but from the moment he bursts onstage to join his band amidst the colourful lights for opener ‘Moves Like Jagger’, a smile beams across his face. The first of two UK dates during their current trip across the Atlantic, it’s the sextet’s first visit to the capital since 2019, and it brings a night crammed full of unstoppable hits.

With little time for chit-chat between songs, Levine plays the frontman role perfectly – whether he’s ripping through guitar solos, leading the crowd in singalongs, or whipping off his denim jacket to deafening screams. Flitting between the swaggering popstar, the mysterious rockstar, and the soulful singer, each moment is delivered with such mesmerising conviction that even the hesitant dads, sons, and husbands amongst the crowd are soon singing along to every chorus.

Seamlessly transitioning between tracks at breakneck speed, a back-to-back rendition of hits ‘Payphone’ and ‘What Lovers Do’ see Levine strut up and down the walkway, whilst a one-two punch of 2002 tracks ‘Harder To Breathe’ and ‘Sunday Morning’ delivers a shot of nostalgia. The talents of keyboardist PJ Morton are passionately highlighted by Levine during the opening moments of the latter track, later leading a performance of the musician’s own song ‘Heavy’ with the frontman on guitar duties. 

After an impressive cover of Prince’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ sees Levine back in command of the microphone, he leads the room in a poignant singalong to 2019 hit ‘Memories’ – a song dedicated to the loss of the band’s manager, Jordan Feldstein. It’s a special moment, with the song’s simple melody allowing Levine’s dazzling vocals to shine bright. 

Shortly after returning to the stage alongside guitarist James Valentine for the show’s encore, the frontman takes a moment to reflect on the band’s first London show at the Camden Barfly. Noting the attendance of “around 15 people” he remarks, “I remembered thinking, ‘Holy sh*t, we’ll never succeed in England’… We wrote this next song around that time in a dirty house we all shared.”

With the duo leading the crowd in a heartfelt singalong to the band’s breakthrough hit ‘She Will Be Loved’ before being joined by the rest of their band for a euphoric final chorus, it’s a reminder of how far Maroon 5 have come – and yet how little has changed. 

Whilst there may be a little more grandeur to their performance 20 years on, everything remains centred around the six musicians atop the stage, and it’s that spirit which defines the night. An evening of music, friendship, and enduring community, as Levine addresses his band before ‘Sugar’ closes the evening, he says it better than anyone else could: “This is our stage”.

Maroon 5 play Birmingham on July 4. Find Maroon 5 tickets here.