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Paul Mann: Maroon 5 Brings Rock-‘n’-Roll Circus to Santa Barbara

Fans get in on at the act during a lively performance at the Bowl

As the first rainstorm of the season cleared and the stars came out on Oct. 6, Maroon 5 brought their grandiose rock-and-roll road show to the Santa Barbara Bowl.

Australian rocker Ry Cumming and his band played a short opening session to the early birds. Playing low-key but well-played rock ballads, the relatively new face on the rock scene received a polite response from the audience. As twilight began to descend, the next band to play proved to be the real surprise of the night.

One Republic, a Colorado-based band, has rapidly achieved success in the international pop music world. The instant notoriety comes largely from their first 2007 hit song “Apologize,” and the subsequent remix of the same song by Timbaland. The band likes to consider themselves “genre-less,” but in fact sound like a cross between Canadian indie band Arcade Fire and English electronic rock master Radiohead. (Could there be a better sounding musical offspring?) Led by masterful lead singer Ryan Tedder, the band offers a diverse sound with an explosive stage presence.

Although the band has had international success, they fly just under the radar of pop stardom in the United States. That soon may change as the band has been touring relentlessly since the release of last year’s album, Waking Up.

By the time the band finished their set at the Bowl, most fans had found their seats at the nearly sold-out show and greeted the band with vociferous and ecstatic response. As night fell, a wave of anticipation surged through the crowd waiting for the headliners — Maroon 5. The diverse audience covered all demographics, from screaming preteens to adulatory grandmothers. Cheers erupted as the band came onstage in a barrage of lights.

The Los Angeles-based band came on strong, led by vocalist Adam Levine. The band can launch into a full-tilt rock jam when they want to. On songs such as “Wake Up,” “Stutter” and “Hands All Over,” they wore their full metal jackets, rocking like an Ozzfest band. But their jams are punctuated by campy singalongs that are reminiscent of a giant summer camp campfire sing along. Their loyal fans, however, eat up this atmosphere and perform on cue, singing requested chorus lines.

The Grammy-winning band has produced a slew of radio hits in the past decade, making fans familiar with most every song played. On songs such as “This Love,” one of their earliest hit, Levine had the crowd singing like a choir. The seeming dichotomy of hard rock and mellow sing-along pop tunes seems to be a formula that defines the band and endears them to a huge loyal fan base.

By the end of their 90-minute set at the Bowl, the whole crowd was on their feet singing, dancing and screaming their approval.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributor.

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