Maroon 5, Train offer solid pop
It’s ironic that Maroon 5’s Adam Levine was one of the judges on “The Voice,’’which aimed to focus on pure singing. His own voice is serviceably fine for undistinguished blue-eyed soul, but he nails every other intangible necessary to be a great frontman. Saturday night at the
“Moves Like Jagger’’ set the tone right at the outset with its guitar chank, Sergio Leone whistle, and tight disco beat, while a grunting riff helped the band play with space in “Harder to Breathe.’’ Maroon 5 flitted effortlessly between those modes, with “Makes Me Wonder’’ on the former extreme, “Hands All Over’’ on the latter, and “Wake Up Call’’ bridging the two.
If there was a facelessness to the songs - most obvious in “Won’t Go Home Without You’’ and “Never Gonna Leave This Bed,’’ both of which had the same anonymous, genre-free chug as Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now’’ - it was well offset by the machine-tooled precision with which the group attacked them. Like KC & the Sunshine Band displaced 35 years into the future, Maroon 5 seemed like the world’s hardest-working disco-party band.
Pat Monahan’s voice is exactly as good on its merits as Levine’s, but Train’s coheadlining set showed what happens without those intangibles. Confident but bland, he and his band were stiffer and more workmanlike than their tour-mates.
That’s not to say that Train wasn’t occasionally effective. “Drops of Jupiter’’ earned its dramatic sweep, the fist-in-the-air uplift of “Calling All Angels’’ had a skip in its step, and “Save Me, San Francisco’’ was solid modern-day roadhouse country. But there was zero subtlety to vaguely rootsy anthems like “Parachute’’ and “Words,’’ just the band cranking up all the instruments to 10 until everything was flat and featureless. Throughout the night, that seemed like Train’s favorite place to be, mostly because it suited them so well.
Filling in for Gavin DeGraw, who dropped out of the tour after he was assaulted recently, Maroon 5 touring keyboardist P.J. Morton opened with a solid set of light pop-funk in a vein similar to his bosses’.
Marc Hirsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.