Walking through the traditionalist ballroom stylings of the O2 Institute’s hallway, it’s grand double staircases arching over makeshift merch tables amidst theatre-like trappings in the form of cloakrooms and box offices, you’d be forgiven for assuming you’re here for something of an operatic nature. Pulling the wool from the eyes, as you make the descent down the monochrome stairwell that brings you passage to the dingy darkness of the basement-like O2 Institute2, the setting of tonight’s anti-opera: emo-tinged pop-rockers The Maine.

For a Sunday, this 600-capacity venue is pretty much beginning to pack itself out before any support acts even hit the stage, which is testament to the pull of both the line-up as a whole, and of The Maine, who’ve spent ten years crafting a reputation as a relentlessly fun live act.

Credit: Kaytee Fisher

Keeping in line with their reputation for fun-filled energy-heavy concerts, they’ve curated a cast of supports that warm them up rather nicely. Kicking proceedings off with a bit of a bang are modern-day post-Britpop prodigies, and 8123 cohorts, The Technicolors. For a band who have never ever played the UK before, they come across well versed in our way of gigging, flowing through a well-paced set that explodes as it ends. Their brand of British-inspired post-Britpop indie-rock is a rattling riot that riff and rolls its way through the venue. Whilst opener Neon Roses is a training ground, as only half of the crowd seems to get it, bonafide banger Lilies For Lily gets the crowd dancing and singing, it’s ’07-vibing modern-gleaned indie soaking all who listen.

Credit: Kaytee Fisher

Following them are the hotly-tipped Californian kings Night Riots, who look as much the part as they sound, although admittedly, tonight they come off more like the isle they’re touring than they do the land they’re from. Whilst it’s clear that they’re visually inspired by The 1975 and the modern-day Arctic Monkeys, musically, they’re a pop-riddled AFI who have a turn for Alt-J styled jams and lyrics the likes of The Cure would throw out. Night Riots are a riot live, and they’re a big jar of marmite waiting to be devoured, too (or not). You’ll either adore or despise these Californians, but there’s no denying that they’ve got more potential than a Labour government, and that’s saying something. Fangs is a far-reaching crowd-chanting favourite, and every song goes over well, especially with the ladies of the crowd. The highlight is when the lights go out, and the entire band bang away in sync on drums, only their hits lighting up the drumsticks in vibrant red and blue.

Credit: Kaytee Fisher

Warmed up well, with a couple of pints from the venue’s multiple bars to boot, and The Maine are more than ready to bring the roof down on this Sunday evening party. Celebrating ten years of their existence, as well as the release of their sixth record, ‘Lovely Little Lonely’, the set is split mostly between the aforementioned record, and its closest predecessor, ‘American Candy’, the rest of the set representing a pick n’ mix of fan favourites from their back catalogue.

Opening, or shall I say, exploding onto the stage with ‘Black Butterflies & Déjà vu’, it’s clear this crowd were always here for one band, and one band only, the roars rapturous, and you’re mistaken if you thought that was the peak of the applause, as follow-up Am I Pretty? brings the house down with a whole-song sing-along.

Credit: Kaytee Fisher

John O’Callaghan is a masterful frontman, gifted with a talent few vocalists achieve in their lifetime, but one which many seek; the ability to have the entire crowd eating out of the palm of his hands, like slaves to the rhythm of the words he sings. Whether he’s telling you to leave your coolness at the door and sing wave after wave after wave of different vocal chants, or getting you to jump up and down like a Mexican wave on acid, or even leading the crowd through a mind-blowing goosebump-heavy chant-turned-dance-explosion of ‘da da da da’ in My Heroine, we are helpless to the wishes and whims of this man and his band.

Whether you’ve been following them for ten years or if you’re here on partner or parent duty, The Maine deliver a show bands spend years trying to perfect, entertaining you through each and every song. Newer cuts like ‘Taxi’ and ‘How Do You Feel’ pop as big as older cuts ‘English Girls’ and ‘Girls Do What They Want’, the latter of which brings one of the nights finest highlights. Pulling up on stage an unlikely fan of the band, who turns out to be a dutiful dad bringing his daughter to see the band she adores, John and co. lead him through the chorus, which ends up in an explosion of venue-shattering gang-vocals and a dad-of-the-year display wrapped up in one.

Closing out with ‘Another Night On Mars’, The Maine prove once again why they’re still going ten years after, bigger and better than ever before, and they’re doing it in such a way that suggests they’ll be playing venues far bigger and far bolder than the O2 Institute2 come their twentieth anniversary.

Fumbling up the stairs, out of the darkness and into the light of the ballroom hallway, reality releases itself upon us, the rain and the cold creeping in mischievously, ready to take us away. However, spirits are high and the entire crowd are brandishing smiles as bright as fireflies, so no British weather could put a spanner in the works of tonight’s finale. Isn’t this how all good gigs should end?

 

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