The Maine Celebrate Sixteen Years Of Their Band In London | Live Review

London, O2 Forum Kentish Town, April 26 2024

Photo: Thomas Berridge

Life as a teenager can be rough, and few of us come out unscathed, but that’s where a band like The Maine come in.

Formed by five Arizona natives over sixteen years ago, since 2007 The Maine have forged a fanbase that stretches worldwide. A community that oftentimes feels more like a family, they’re known as 8123. The address for a parking garage the five of them once hung out in, it’s become a tight-knit, inclusive collective fuelled by powerful bonds and deep connections. 

With nine studio albums under their belt, sixteen years into their career The Maine seemingly have a song for every occasion. From heartbreak and painful goodbyes to new loves and old friendships, they’ve long served as a place of security and comfort for thousands of misfit humans, many finding a sense of home and community in their music.

Retaining the same line-up since they signed their first record deal in 2007 – John O’Callaghan, Kennedy Brock, Jared Monaco, Garrett Nickelsen and Pat Kirch aren’t conventional rockstars. Interacting with their fans as if they were dear friends, the five-piece have gained a reputation for the warm welcomes and heartfelt reconnections delivered to those who love their music. Making a conscious effort to spend quality time with those who come to every show, 8123 is a place where egos are checked at the door, and where everyone is welcome. 

Photo: Thomas Berridge

A salute to the last sixteen years, it’s finally London’s turn to experience the band’s ‘Sweet 16 Tour’, a career-spanning set featuring songs from every chapter of The Maine. Over two-thousand fans shuffling into the room, whether they first heard the band whilst watching YouTube videos of their 2009 Vans Warped Tour sets, or whether they joined the party later down the line, there’s room for everyone in 8123 – and tonight is a celebration of that. 

A glittery silver backdrop behind the stage, a disco ball dangling from the ceiling, the band dance onstage to the vibrant ‘Dose No.2’. Welcoming the London crowd to their sixteenth birthday party, just a few minutes into their time onstage John demands those seated upstairs get to their feet, the whole room now standing to attention. 

A sold-out venue of 2,300 bodies all revelling in the buoyant buzz of ‘Diet Soda Society’ and the airy contemplative notes of ‘I think about you all the time’, by the time John has launched himself offstage to host a front row singalong to 2010 hit ‘Right Girl’, the night’s energy is in full swing.

Photo: Thomas Berridge

“Our band is called The Maine. We’re from Phoenix, Arizona… a long, long way from here,” the frontman smiles.

“I suppose that tonight is a culmination of the last 16 years, so we’d better play some old shit!” 

2010 cuts ‘Saving Grace’ and ‘Whoever She Is’ getting their first ever plays in the city whilst fan-favourite ‘American Candy’ track ‘English Girls’ makes a welcome return to the set (winning a crowd vote against ‘Slip The Noose’), if it’s ‘old shit’ anyone came for tonight – The Maine deliver. Taking time to bask in nostalgia, ‘Like We Did (Windows Down)’ sees Kennedy join on vocal duties, John’s arm around the guitarists shoulder as their voices harmonise. 

“How many of you bastards out there feel fucking old right now?” the frontman laughs.

“You might be right, but I am too… I’m on your team!”

Whilst reminiscing on the past is certainly high on tonight’s agenda, there’s plenty of time saved for the present. Unveiling their self-titled album in 2023, ‘how to exit a room’, ‘blame’, and ‘thoughts I have while lying in bed’ spark huge singalongs, whilst standalone track ‘Loved You A Little’ gets a raucous response even in the absence of guest vocalists Charlotte Sands and Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara. 

Photo: Thomas Berridge

A reminder that The Maine have not only endured the last sixteen years, but have triumphed in their evolution, by the time a euphoric rendition of ‘Numb Without You’ has echoed throughout the room, the smiles fixed upon the five faces onstage seemingly can’t grow any wider. 

“This is crazy! I didn’t think anyone would show up tonight,” John laughs.

“Even if you have work tomorrow… you don’t have work. Tell your boss that some random 36-year-old man said it was okay.”

An invitation to let loose, after joking that they’ll be playing for another twelve hours (a quip that many in the room wish was a reality) the frontman calls for everyone to put their “modern lighters” in the air. The raw, dark swagger of 2013 album closer ‘Forever Halloween’ bringing a fleeting moment of calm, as John hops into centre of the pit to befriend those within it, he issues a simple request for the remainder of the evening.

“You can do what you want, you bought the tickets, but I would implore you to put your phones in your pockets now… This shit is on YouTube, you can watch it online!”

Grinning as he bounces amongst the crowd, welcoming them to borrow his microphone to belt out lines of ‘Sticky’, whatever barrier may have existed between those onstage and those below is shattered. Inviting a member of the audience onstage for ‘Girls Do What They Want’ – a fan from the Netherlands dubbed by John as “a tall Justin Bieber” – the band coach him through the performance, the crowd screaming words of encouragement. 

The whole room dancing and singing, each moment of the night brings a reminder that life is too short not to have a good time, and no one knows that better than the five men onstage. A room filled with people who have found a home in their band throughout the last sixteen years, their gratitude radiates through every note.

“We’re getting old, there’s no way around it… but this feels fucking awesome,” John nods.

“We don’t deserve you!”

A closing statement that everybody stood in the room would surely disagree with, as ‘Another Night On Mars’ brings the night to an emotional close, there’s no doubt that The Maine are an incredibly special band. Five guys from Arizona with a bunch of songs and a whole lot of love, they’ve created a family like no other, and in a world filled with so much uncertainty and discomfort – tonight is proof of just how much that matters. 

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