Friday, February 26, 2010

Concert Review : John Mayer at the Wachovia Center

Through the years I've seen my share of John Mayer shows...three to be exact, one for each album (Room for Squares, Continuum, Battle Studies). It'd be hard to argue that he'll ever be able to top his debut album in Room for Squares, but in my opinion he almost did that in Continuum. I haven't quite warmed up to his newest album, Battle Studies, but it's still hard to pass up the opportunity for a good show.

Venue's aside (all three were fairly big, one was a fairgrounds, one was an outside amphitheater, one was an arena), the opening act went a long way in deciding which concert of John's I enjoyed the most. With Michael Franti & Spearhead opening for John this time, I was a little underwhelmed by the performance. While I dug their reggae vibe, their songs came off a little too sing-along-y, which took away from their overall performance. They did a good job of bringing energy and mixing up the slow and fast songs, but in the end it was a little too predictable for me to get into.

In comparison, I've seen Umphrey's Magee and Counting Crows open for John Mayer, so the bar was set very high from the beginning. Playing to a packed house, John immediately set the mood for the night with one of my favorites from his new album and his new single Heartbreak Warfare. The mellow, soft rock vibe of the track sort of epitomized the sound of his new album.

The concert served as a sort of wake up call that I hadn't given his new album enough listens. Despite that, I did enjoyed hearing him play Perfectly Lonely and starting his encore with a solo acoustic version of Who Says . Also noteworthy was his "crowd voted" rendition of one of my favorite songs of his Slow Dancing in a Burning really doesn't get much better than personifying love with such peacefully destructive imagery...and in concert the sadness is even more palpable. Why I always enjoy depressing relationships going up in flames tracks, I have no idea...

The most surprisingly likable song of the whole concert was without a doubt his cover of the Fleetwood Mac song Half of My Heart. While I'm not one to ever find a bright side within the genre of Country music, I find a way to enjoy it when it is attempted by non-Country artists...weird right? Between this cover and his cover of Bruce Springsteen's I'm on Fire, there's no doubt that John Mayer knows best when it comes to choosing tracks to cover.

As the concert continued on and I continued to hope and pray that by some stroke of luck John Mayer would just let David Ryan Harris play a couple songs by himself, I was left with a couple notable songs on the "wish he woulda played list". My all time favorite Comfortable was missing, along with the undeniably sexy, fretless bass laden I Don't Trust Myself With Loving You, Dreaming With a Broken Heart, Bigger Than My Body and of course my new favorite I'm On Fire.

Without a doubt the best part of the show was an unscripted display of talent by a 12 year old kid named Austin. Pictured above, Austin had been in the front row holding up a sign that said "Let me play Belief with you" or something to that effect. Feeling spontaneous as usual, John invited him up on stage, gave him a guitar and let him play the guitar while he sang. I still can't come up with the words for the type of poise this lil dude had when he kept his cool on stage in front of thousands of people. Below are two angles of him playing on stage with John, one farther back (where I was) and a close up crowd shot:

Here's a much closer angle of Austin rockin' out Belief on stage with JM:

Crazy man...most adults would have shit their pants just being on stage with John Mayer, let alone jumping in his set mid concert unrehearsed and rocking out a couple guitar riffs for a minute and a half. Mad daps & lbs to Austin, the coolest 12 year old I've seen do anything in quite a while.

A final video below is the second verse from his first encore song, Who Says...

Overall I'd give the concert a B, definitely wasn't the best Mayer show I've been to music wise, but thanks to the company I was with, it turned out to be one of the more fun concerts in recent memory. Kinda cool that 90% of the time I go to concerts it's all about the music, but this one was memorable for reasons completely separate from the music I went to see. Good lookin' out CC...


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