This review was originally posted on Highlight Magazine in April 2019.
Wherever in the world The Maine may be, there is always an army of fans behind them. A mere week following the release of their seventh studio album, You Are Ok, the Arizona-based band found themselves in London for their biggest UK headlining show to date. With a brand new album of material to play, a release that would go on to debut at number one on Billboard’s Independent Album chart, The Maine’s show in London was not only a celebration of their new album, but a celebration of the community the band has managed to form worldwide.
Opening up the night with “Numb Without You,” the first single to be released from You Are Ok, the sheer loudness of the crowd singing the words with vocalist John O’Callaghan made it seem like the song had been out for years. Clad in coordinated outfits that reflect the colours presented on You Are Ok, the moment they hit the stage, it was clear that The Maine was going to do everything in their power to make the show a night to remember.
To the surprise of many fans, The Maine incorporated a number of old songs into their set including “Don’t Come Down”, “Diet Soda Society” and “Right Girl,” all tracks that followed the opening song and all tracks that are from different albums. The well thought out set list of twenty songs spanned The Maine entire career, showcasing their evolution as a band in both sound and style.
Although it was released over a decade ago, each time The Maine performs “We All Roll Along,” the song seems to become more and more special to those that hear it. As soon as the second verse began, all music stopped and the band let the audience sing the lyrics “8123 means everything to me” back to them. As a number that was originally the address of where The Maine would hang out before they became an international touring band, 8123 now describes the community that surrounds them and the family of fans that have come along for the ride over the years. It’s a moment in their set that each of the five members never quite seem to get sick of, each of them smiling wide as the crowd screams those lyrics with as much power and emotion as they can muster up.
“Slip The Noose,” the opening track on You Are Ok, was a particularly memorable moment in the set and one that even surprised the band. Having only been released eight days prior to the show, fans overpowered the vocals of O’Callaghan as the opening lines of the song began, singing with so much passion and excitement that the band took a moment to look at each other in sheer amazement that so many people already knew all of the words to the brand new song.
“Am I Pretty?,” a groovy tune about self-love and acceptance that was released on 2015’s American Candy, brought one of the most emotional moments of the night. Calling on a fan from the audience at random and bringing him onstage, the fan took the microphone and stormed the stage, energetically singing and even coordinating a few dance moves that O’Callaghan followed in sync with. Once the song was done, however, the fan took a moment to express how he, and so many people around the world, feel about this emo band from Arizona, saying the following:
“You are one of the most important bands in the world. You guys have helped all of these fucking people. I had the shittiest day yesterday and I was reminded of coming here tonight and I just couldn’t finish smiling. You guys are fucking amazing and I owe you my life.”
It’s safe to say there wasn’t a single dry eye in the venue after that, the fan’s words hitting home to so many in the audience.
Before closing out the night with “Black Butterflies and Deja Vu” and “Another Night On Mars,” both fan favourites, O’Callaghan opened up candidly to the audience about the thoughts floating around in his head, expressing that he didn’t understand what they did as a band to earn the fans that they have or be as successful as they are, but “whatever it is we did, we must have done something right.”
Their show in London, as is the case for every show they play around the world, had an atmosphere that is almost hard to describe to those that weren’t there. It was excitement, happiness, joy and for some, it may have even felt like home. As friends that met because of The Maine stood next to each other in the crowd, singing as loud as their voices would let them, the sense of family and community that surrounds this band is powerful and unique in all of its own ways.
What The Maine has been able to accomplish over the years as an unsigned band who got their start on MySpace – sold out headlining international tours and a number one debut on a Billboard chart – is almost hard to fathom and understand. For now, the words John spoke that night in London will have to be the best explanation for what has happened for them over this past decade – “whatever it is we did, we must have done something right.”