Maroon 5 review: Abu Dhabi show was a testament to the band's staying power

After two decades in the spotlight, the pop group continue to draw fans of all ages

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Not many 21st century pop bands have the staying power of Maroon 5.

Almost 20 years on from the release of their critically acclaimed debut album, Songs About Jane, they are still pulling in fans of all ages, blending their two-decade back-catalogue seamlessly to put on a show that doesn’t stop for breath.

The US band made their Abu Dhabi debut in impressive fashion on Friday, taking to the stage at Yas Island’s Etihad Arena for what felt like a proper return to pre-pandemic live events.

The 90-minute set jumped back and forth through the band’s musical journey, switching from ballad to upbeat, in a show that managed to avoid a single flat moment.

Fans excited to see Maroon 5 live at Etihad Arena, Yas Island. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Dramatic music and flashing lights built atmosphere ahead of the band’s energetic burst on to the stage, and they headed straight in for crowd-pleaser Moves Like Jagger, during which lead singer Adam Levine danced around, not quite matching the song’s namesake.

From then on, it was hit after hit, as they went into This Love, Stereo Hearts and One More Night.

There was little crowd interaction from the band in the first half of the show, save for the odd: “How you doing Abu Dhabi?” but Levine still managed to command as a frontman, showcasing plenty of charisma throughout.

However, ahead of ballad Payphone, he asked for the arena’s lights to be turned up, so he could take in the crowd.

“I want to see everyone,” he said. “This is our first time here, we’ve been waiting a long time and we are finally here to see you.

“We have the best job in the world.”

He then played a slowed-down version of the track alongside lead guitarist James Valentine, to which the crowd sang along with might, as the screens to either side of the stage bathed the pair in sepia light.

The band also took several moments to show off their instrumental prowess, including Grammy-winning keyboardist PJ Morton during Sunday Morning and Matt Flynn, who performed an energetic drum solo during Harder to Breathe.

PJ Morton, keyboardist of Maroon 5, performs at Etihad Arena, Yas Island. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

“To still be playing these songs 20 years later, and to be able to come all the way over here, we could never have imagined it,” a genuinely touched Levine said.

After a short encore, the band returned to close the evening on a high, from ballad Memories and fan-favourite She Will Be Loved, into the energetic Sugar, ensuring everyone ended the night on their feet.

Updated: May 07, 2022, 7:34 AM