Songs About Rain (Part 2): Grand All Over

God willing and the creek didn’t rise. The show went off without a hitch, and neither the one and a half hour drive / crawl down, nor the labyrinthine parking situation, nor the slightly more-than-damp lawn seats and humid night air were enough to deter or detract from the fun that lay before us.

Indeed, just as I wrapped up the writing of my previous post, the rain reduced to a slight, cough-and-sputter-style sprinkling. By the time we arrived at the grounds the rain had all but gone away, leaving patches of setting azure-to-sandstone colored sky behind as it went.

Stepping through the gates at the Comcast Center grounds I was immediately reminded of the entrance to a giant amusement park. Save for relative lack of ambient screeching and screaming of both the human and high-speed mechanical sort and the obvious absence of any large and looming, bobblehead-ish mascots that lumber up and down the main drag of such places, it made for an appropriate comparison (Just add much more Coors Light at Fenway-park-style prices and you’re golden).

If “amusing” was one of the keywords of the evening, then “entertaining” was another, and none of the three acts failed to delight or impress.

Maroon 5 themselves certainly did not disappoint, putting on a show that was enjoyable both on a base entertainment level and on a technical, musically complex level as well.

They proved– to no one’s surprise save perhaps my own pre-concert reservations– that for all the success that pop stardom had brought them they still knew how to play music. And not just play music but play music– in various forms and styles of composition– extremely well. Perish the thought of them using fame, stardom, and sleek high-powered studio-engineered productions sounds instead of natural ability with guitars, drums, and other essential elements of rock: it was clear that each band member was a talented musician in his own right, able to improvise and deliver solos worthy of any major rock name while still being able to play as one cohesive band unit. For a taste of this, I recommend checking out this live cut of guitarist James Valentine going to town on “The Sun” from their first album. It may be a few years old already, but its an excellent representation of the band’s energy and skill.

Here too was a band that acknowledged and respected its musical roots. They paid tribute not only to their earlier work (particularly from my beloved Songs About Jane era), but also to their influences and predecessors. At no point was this more obvious than when they transitioned between songs using the classic horn riff from Stevie Wonder’s hit “Sir Duke,” complete with a live horn section  Apparently they do this sort of thing a lot, and it does them no shortage of courtesies.

In addition to all of that truly brilliant and wonderful technical stuff that’s all so important to a hardened, cynical, audiophile like me, all three performers proved that they were truly worthy of their audience. As I sat there on the slightly swampy lawn in between opening sets, I realized what a demographically and culturally diverse gathering there was before me. That Pop Music, at the core of its being, is music meant for the population at large: an art form that is able to connect on a deeper level with the broadest spectrum of people.

When you think of it that way, you begin to realize the herculean task that it presents to those who attempt to practice its form day to day, and you are more able to appreciate the work that the Maroon 5s, Kelly Clarksons, and Rozzi Cranes of the world do each day.

For the families of all shapes and sizes looking for wholesome, quality live entertainment, the college friends out for a simple low-key night of fun, the troupe of recent divorcées looking for a night of leave-your-worries-behind (along with your umbrella) sing-a-longs, the long-haired, pierced and pale goth-ly dressed kids who debate the merits of one peformer’s album over another without the slightest shred of irony, and yes, to the multitudes of teenage girls, their music is able to reach them all and deliveer the goods that each group sought.

Of course, you could do a whole lost worse than going to see a few talented folk like Rozzi Crane, Kelly Clarkson, and Maroon 5 in today’s world of Katy Perrys, Justin Biebers, and One Directions, and even those artists have the ability to connect with the huddled masses. Whether you connect with the lyrics, the music, the technique, or even just the beat pop music has something for you. Something to pick you up when you’re down or propel you higher when you’re feeling good. It may not be enough of a reason for me personally to go out and go goo goo over Gaga, but it’s a reminder of why such a thing exists in the first place: to give people a way to connect, find fun, and, often, find release. And I can definitely get behind that.

And who doesn’t like to let loose once in a while with a sing-a-long? The guy below certainly doesn’t mind…


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