Last Wednesday I went to see John Mayer. I’ve seen JM a few times over the past 8 years. I was not really impressed with the latest album, but the main reason I still care about him is that he can still play the guitar live and make me forget that he has stupid songs like “Say”. Maybe he’s gone over the top with this heart throb image he’s trying to project now, and maybe his stage looks like a curtain draped bed, but he can still impress me with the guitar playing.
After having seen Jay-Z at the same arena a couple of weeks before, I noticed and mentioned to friends at the JM show “if Jay-Z was the show where black people get dressed up, John Mayer is the show where white people get dressed up”. It was striking how true that statement was. More tight clothes, more of it all. On the way to get a bloody mary, I stopped off in the restroom. I’m standing at the urinal when I hear a liquid hit the floor behind me, and the cleaning guy on the other side of the room say “what are you doing man? get IN the bathroom!” I completed my task, and turned around to see some dude had thrown up in the doorway of the restroom. He made it all the way from his seat to the doorway and couldn’t make it the extra 10 feet. Pathetic. I went and got my bloody mary thinking “this may be my last John Mayer show, this crowd has changed over the years to something I’m not a part of anymore.”
I took my seat on the front of the upper deck. Michael Franti was still playing, so we watched him. All his songs sounded the same, and I guess I’ve had less patience for opening acts lately. He came out into the crowd to perform a couple of times, including one time where he started playing in the aisle right below us on the lower level, but sadly I lost that picture in the transfer from camera to computer.
John Mayer finally hit the stage and led off with Heartbreak Warfare. It is one of the few songs I like off the new album, partly because of the cool video he did to go along with it. No Such Thing came 2nd, which I thought was weird. They rolled through some good songs, including I Don’t Trust Myself With Loving You. One of the things I liked so much about Continuum, was the guitar solos. They are amazing to hear live. They’re the reason I go to the live shows. This solo did not disappoint. Before the next song stared, there was an electric guitar malfunction, so he called an audible and did two songs acoustic, by himself. The first was Comfortable, which was the favorite song of my friend TH way back when he was telling me about this new guy John Mayer in 2001 or 2002. I had never heard it live, so it was cool to finally hear it. After Neon (another golden oldie), the technical problem was fixed so the band came back out.
Even the songs that I think were stupid before sounded and looked good live, including Who Says. He finished up with his cover version of Crossroads, so he ended up playing the 3 songs on the new album that I think are the only good ones. It was one of the better shows I’ve seen him play. I would go see him again, despite the immature crowds and the stupid marketing. I get it, I get the big production and the fancy band, but at the heart of it is still that guy who I admire playing smooth guitar solos, and that’s enough for me.