LIVE: The Maine @ O2 Forum, Kentish Town

By Yasmin Brown

“The Maine are the best band in the world”. It’s a phrase heard many times across the course of the evening, and while quite clearly a subjective opinion, there’s weight in this bold claim.

Not only have The Maine just put out an incredibly dynamic, powerful, and uplifting record – understandably titled ‘You Are Ok’ – but combined with their vibrant, fun stage presence and their seemingly kind and caring nature, this band really is, objectively, altogether wonderful.

The evening kicks off after a screen is erected behind the drum kit – which is itself raised on a platform ensuring that drummer Pat Kirch is no less a part of this show than his bandmates –  creating a more intimate vibe than this venue usually allows for. And despite the fact that there are close to 2,300 fans in attendance, this is an intimate show.

The first track the band released from ‘You Are Ok’, ‘Numb Without You’, opens the set and despite having only being released in January, the entire venue erupts seamlessly into chorus as soon as the first notes hit their ears, singing along to every word as though they’d known this song their entire lives.

In fact, this was pretty much the case for every new song The Maine included on their 20 song setlist, most of which had been out for barely over a week. To say that this fanbase is loyal would be to insult the fierceness with which they love this Arizonian quintet, and when one fan takes to the stage to get down (seriously, he gets down) with front man John O’Callaghan before being handed the microphone to take on the vocals for ‘Am I Pretty?’, this ferocity is perfectly showcased. Before leaving the stage (following which O’Callaghan ensures the fan returns to his spot at the front of the crowd), this fan uses his brief platform to express his gratitude for the band, stating that The Maine are “one of the most important bands in the world”, that he “loves [them] so much”, and gesturing to the crowd as he finishes with, “and they all love you too”. It’s just one fan, but somehow we know he is speaking for everyone.

The energy in the room is electric, which O’Callaghan himself acknowledges not too long into the set, and despite venue rules that those in the front few rows of the balcony should remain seated, there’s not a single person not on their feet for the duration of the set. Any command that is sent our way is followed unquestioningly, heads banging dutifully during ‘Misery’, high fives respectfully shared during any in-crowd moments, and bodies launching themselves into their air obediently throughout the night.

That this band is musically tight is a given, as 12 years into their careers (and 12 years after they first played ‘We All Roll Along’ right here in London, which we are treated to again tonight), the members of The Maine are obviously closer to being brothers than they are friends; more than being in sync, these men appear to have access to each other’s thoughts with how flawlessly they perform together.

Looking around, there’s not a single moment that’s not filled with Cheshire Cat smiles, or friends screaming and pointing at each other excitedly as they share this special experience with each other. O’Callaghan says it best as the set draws to a close when, humbled, he exclaims, “I don’t know what the fuck we did but I’m sure glad we did it!”

Based on the deafening roar that erupts upon hearing this, it’s doubtful that there’s a single person in attendance who disagrees.