Last week, one of Arizona’s favourite pop-punk-alternative-rock pieces The Maine shook the modest walls of O2 Academy Birmingham’s top room. They were supported by fellow Arizonans Nick Santino [6/10], the ex-frontman of gentle indie band A Rocket to the Moon, who now regularly performs with The Maine as a solo act. His soft guitar playing and soulful voice had many audience members swaying/slow-dancing slowly, and he showed real musical talent despite a complete lack of backing instruments or special effects. Nick Santino played a short set and then was followed by Lydia [5/10], an indie-rock four piece who also formed in the early noughties and have a loyal following back across the pond. Despite this, their reception could be described as somewhat lukewarm, save a few die-hard fans who danced along and belted out every word. Though their songs are fairly bland, they still make for pleasant listening.
It is safe to say that The Maine [7/10] are well loved by their fans, as the atmosphere was drowning in the joyful screeches of fangirls and their boyfriends alike. The energetic five-piece, who are pretty familiar with Birmingham at this point, were welcomed back to the stage with open arms, and seemed genuinely glad to be there. The Maine have been around since 2007 and have had a good string of shows in the UK over the years, and it is not hard to see that they have built a good relationship with their UK fans. Lead singer, John O’Callaghan, treated the crowd like a group of old friends and interacted with them throughout the show. We witnessed the overwhelming happiness of an attendee as John acknowledged him with a wave and ironic *two-fingers to eyes* glare.
Being fans of their older work, we were compelled to see what The Maine had to offer this time around on their Forever Halloween tour. In comparison to their earlier albums, Forever Halloween is a lot more mature in terms of composition and production, but simultaneously, our bias left us with a feeling that there was something missing. And despite the crowd ferociously belting alongside the band, it was noticeably louder and infinitely more passionate when they reverted back to the kind of songs that earned them their place in music. On this occasion, it was ‘Into Your Arms’ and ‘Right Girl’ that generated the kind of reaction that could shatter glass. The Maine have a great self-awareness about their careers and how their fan base seem to stay cemented in time whilst they continue to evolve, and, to our bittersweet dismay, have stepped away from the Can’t Stop Won’t Stop days.
That being said, the night was full of frivolity and energetic head-banging, as well as an array of great, upbeat tracks from the new album, including our personal favourite, ‘Vanilla’, a scathing satire on the selfie-taking, pumpkin-spice-latte-drinking ways of the modern youth (not in so many words). There was an air of informality and modesty throughout the show and not a single person can accuse The Maine of not giving their performance 100%. They show a palpable dedication to their music as well as their fans and want nothing more than to please.
Gaby Quattromini & Anna Lim