concert reviews

Maroon 5's Frontman, Far From a Perfect 10
Maroon 5 at the Verizon Center, Washington, DC, Tuesday 16 October 2007

Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine has the characteristics of a swoon-inducing Sensitive Guy, and he flaunted them all on Tuesday at Verizon Center: lanky, stubbled appearance; mushy, cliched lyrics ("I can't stop thinking about you," "Just give me one more chance to make it right"); and that oh-so-notorious falsetto.

Except that falsetto never really clicked live: Levine's voice always seemed just a hair flat and never quite powerful enough to fill the arena. He tried to mask those weak vocals with his other trademark -- percussive lyric-spitting -- but even the fast-paced "Harder to Breathe" seemed thin despite the rush of words.

The biggest mistake a mediocre singer can make is to cover a song by a better singer, and Levine's misstep -- interjecting a verse of "In the Air Tonight" into the down-tempo "Secret" -- exposed by direct comparison the limpness of his tone and delivery.

There were a few moments where the band jelled -- one murmured verse of "The Sun" showed true sensitivity -- but mostly, with Levine's earnest sing-shouting, Maroon 5's pop-radio-friendly Sensitive Guy songs never really translated to the arena-rock setting. Oddly, one stadium-show standard saved the band in the end: The loud singalong to "She Will Be Loved" thankfully drowned out Levine's crooning whine.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 18 October 2007; Page C13
.: Selected discography: It Won't Be Soon Before Long (Maroon 5, 2007); Songs About Jane (Maroon 5, 2002).